Designing a Dining Table

September 7, 2022 • #

One of my next projects I’d like to work on is designing and building a custom dining table. The table we have now was a simple bare-wood pine table we bought probably 15 years ago and painted flat black. For years it was our office desk, where one of us sat on each side; then we converted it to our small dining table. It’s still going strong today, with remarkable durability. I haven’t even repainted the tabletop.

But we want a larger proper dining table that we can use for the family. The current table doesn’t get much use, but we’ve now got a proper dining room that we’d like to use for its intended purpose.

My idea is a long and relatively narrow thick panel, with some kind of simple cross-member base assembly. This is the rough SketchUp model so far:

White oak dining table

I’m designing it to be extendable with a leaf in the center, with the support apron rails forming an enclosed box in which we could store the leaf element when it’s not in use. For typical day-to-day we wouldn’t need it extended — only having that as an option for larger events and things. I don’t want to have to store the leaf somewhere where it’ll get buried out in the garage or take up space elsewhere, so it’s best if it stays with the table. The whole thing is designed to be 90” when fully extended. I’ve worked out the measurements so I think this approach will work with a leaf size that’ll be storable within this hidden box underneath. No one would even know it’s there.

Leaf storage underneath the table

The design doesn’t have any of the finishing touches I’m imagining working in somehow. The chamfers, round-overs, joinery. The vision right now is to do this with probably 10-quarter white oak (for the top) and maybe 8-quarter for the legs and base components. It’ll be a fun project if or when I can find the time to do it. I’ve wanted to tackle a more substantial furniture project for a while, and it’d be gratifying to build something that the family can use and enjoy for the years to come.