Dining table construction advice


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Hey guys! I’m a newbie at building things. My husband and I just built nesting tables and a coffee table and I’m ready to tackle a bigger project but I needed some advice. Hoping you guys can help me out!

I want to build a large square dining table that will seat 8 people. And I want the base to be in the middle of it so it doesn’t have legs getting in the way of the chairs. I want it to be solid oak because I think that’s more durable than plywood or veneer. 
 

my problems are the following:

- how do I get a large piece of oak? My local Home Depot / Lowes only has oak/birch plywood in those sizes and the 2x10 boards they have are just pine. 
 

- how do I figure out the width of the base so that the table is stable. I gather that the base will have to be heavier than the top in order for it to be truly stable. 
 

- what do I use to make the base? Can I just make a square box out of plywood (joined by pocket holes or biscuits/dowels) and use that? 
 

- am I wrong in looking for solid oak for this project? Should I be using veneer or plywood instead?

 

The post won’t let me post pictures of my coffee table / nesting tables sadly but we made a fluted round coffee table with an old dining table top I found - turned out it was plywood and I sanded through it so I opted to add oak veneer on top and it looks great! The sides have pine half rounds attached to give it a fluted look. 
 

for the nesting tables, we used 3 2x6 pine boards joined together by pocket holes and created waterfall edges with 45 degree cuts. 
 

thanks in advance!

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A quick google search of hardwood dealers or saw mills near your area would give you some good results.  Your location will also play a hand in the availability of hardwoods in your area.  Where I'm at there's quite a few smaller operations that I can get wider oak stock, and If you have the ability to mill your own boards buying rough sawn will drastically help in the cost as well.  

Solid work on the nesting tables and coffee table btw!

 

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4 hours ago, SAZ said:

I want to build a large square dining table that will seat 8 people. And I want the base to be in the middle of it so it doesn’t have legs getting in the way of the chairs.

We need to know a few things.  What tools do you have?  Do you have the space/shop area to build a fairly large piece?   If my memory serves, which is debatable, a  5'x5' square will seat 8 comfortably.  There are a number of options, gluing up lumber to size, veneered plywood, etc..  Another would be to purchase a butcher block like this top and then make the pedestal base.  At one point Grizzly offered a 5x5, I don't know if the they still do.  But two butcher block pieces could be joined fairly easily.  Building a stable pedestal base for something that large would be a challenge. 

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if this is your first table of this size I would start by looking at pics of pedestal tables online.  Find ones that appeal to you and then try to figure out how you can build it or something like it.  Also check online for dimensions of table, room required for each chair, foot room, etc.   One final thought -Havine 4 legs at the corners allows for the chairs to be between the legs and construction will be easier than a pedestal.  Good luck.

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Here is an example of a pedestal table that I built. The pics and discussion may give you some pointers, even though the table is round. Note the leveling feet I included to mitigate the issue @BillyJack pointed out with circular bases.

If you are limited to typical home-improvement tools (jig or circle saw, drill & driver, speed square...), building the table you describe may be challenging, but not impossible. Don't hesitate to ask for help on how to accomplish a given task with what you have on hand.

Oak is a perfectly suitable material, and your local home center probably offers oak "project boards" that are already surfaced. They will cost a good deal more than rough lumber, but if you have no jointer or planer, then surfaced is your best bet. Even then, examine each piece carefully to find boards that are straight and flat. 

The table top will be a panel of boards glued edge to edge for the width you need. I suggest a simple panel with supporting aprons, no breadboard ends, and certainly no mitered frame. You need to really understand how wood reacts to environmental changes to execute those correctly. And glue, in place of or in addition to pocket screws. The edge joints, if properly fit and glued, will be stronger than the wood. Screws just hold it while tbe glue cures.

Regarding the foot to top width ratio, you should be able to have the top hang over 8 to 10 inches on a side, and be pretty stable. My rou d table overhangs about 14" or so, if I recall correctly, but I added ballast to the base as compensation. It is quite stable. Also, leave 10" to 12" between the chair seat and apron edge for comfortable seating, with the total height between 29" and 31" for chairs having a seat height of 16" to 18".

Oak ply may seem easier for the top, but the rotary-cut grain patterns are disturbing to look at.

Your square table would work well witb a square base pedestal, using cross-lapped feet and top braces, like the braces on my round table.

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18 hours ago, Just Bob said:

We need to know a few things.  What tools do you have?  Do you have the space/shop area to build a fairly large piece?   If my memory serves, which is debatable, a  5'x5' square will seat 8 comfortably.  There are a number of options, gluing up lumber to size, veneered plywood, etc..  Another would be to purchase a butcher block like this top and then make the pedestal base.  At one point Grizzly offered a 5x5, I don't know if the they still do.  But two butcher block pieces could be joined fairly easily.  Building a stable pedestal base for something that large would be a challenge. 

That's the biggest thing is tooling. I have plenty of ideals for a nice quick pedistals for DIY'ers but require some tooling. 

Tooling?

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On 12/3/2020 at 3:18 PM, Just Bob said:

We need to know a few things.  What tools do you have?  Do you have the space/shop area to build a fairly large piece?   If my memory serves, which is debatable, a  5'x5' square will seat 8 comfortably.  There are a number of options, gluing up lumber to size, veneered plywood, etc..  Another would be to purchase a butcher block like this top and then make the pedestal base.  At one point Grizzly offered a 5x5, I don't know if the they still do.  But two butcher block pieces could be joined fairly easily.  Building a stable pedestal base for something that large would be a challenge. 

Thank you!! I have quite a few tools and some workspace too. I dont have a planet but have a table saw and was planning to join the boards using pocket holes.  

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On 12/3/2020 at 5:03 PM, Ronn W said:

if this is your first table of this size I would start by looking at pics of pedestal tables online.  Find ones that appeal to you and then try to figure out how you can build it or something like it.  Also check online for dimensions of table, room required for each chair, foot room, etc.   One final thought -Havine 4 legs at the corners allows for the chairs to be between the legs and construction will be easier than a pedestal.  Good luck.

Thank you! I know making 4 legs would definitely be easier. But I’ve got my mind set on pedestals lol

I like your recommendation about looking at the measurements online. Thanks so much!

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On 12/3/2020 at 5:37 PM, BillyJack said:

Your going to have be smart about the base.  This base does well on hardwood or concrete. No so good on carpet..

Very concerned about this table but I didn't draw it up....

 

 

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Hmm ya this looks like it’s too heavy and might have trouble with stability. Thanks for sharing! Mine will be on tile or hardwood. 

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On 12/3/2020 at 8:54 PM, wtnhighlander said:

Here is an example of a pedestal table that I built. The pics and discussion may give you some pointers, even though the table is round. Note the leveling feet I included to mitigate the issue @BillyJack pointed out with circular bases.

If you are limited to typical home-improvement tools (jig or circle saw, drill & driver, speed square...), building the table you describe may be challenging, but not impossible. Don't hesitate to ask for help on how to accomplish a given task with what you have on hand.

Oak is a perfectly suitable material, and your local home center probably offers oak "project boards" that are already surfaced. They will cost a good deal more than rough lumber, but if you have no jointer or planer, then surfaced is your best bet. Even then, examine each piece carefully to find boards that are straight and flat. 

The table top will be a panel of boards glued edge to edge for the width you need. I suggest a simple panel with supporting aprons, no breadboard ends, and certainly no mitered frame. You need to really understand how wood reacts to environmental changes to execute those correctly. And glue, in place of or in addition to pocket screws. The edge joints, if properly fit and glued, will be stronger than the wood. Screws just hold it while tbe glue cures.

Regarding the foot to top width ratio, you should be able to have the top hang over 8 to 10 inches on a side, and be pretty stable. My rou d table overhangs about 14" or so, if I recall correctly, but I added ballast to the base as compensation. It is quite stable. Also, leave 10" to 12" between the chair seat and apron edge for comfortable seating, with the total height between 29" and 31" for chairs having a seat height of 16" to 18".

Oak ply may seem easier for the top, but the rotary-cut grain patterns are disturbing to look at.

Your square table would work well witb a square base pedestal, using cross-lapped feet and top braces, like the braces on my round table.

Thank you so much for the detailed reply! This is really helpful. I’m going to get planning! :D

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