9 Foot Long Dining Table - 6 legs needed?

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Forum topic by Michael posted 09-05-2012 07:04 PM 11556 views 1 time favorited 13 replies Add to Favorites Watch
View Michael's profile


4 posts in 2289 days

09-05-2012 07:04 PM

Hello all, thanks for reading. I’m building something of a farmhouse style table for my family. We currently have 7 children (3 bio and 4 foster/adopt) so with 9 currently at the table my wife would like seating for 12. My plan is to seat 4 down each side and 2 on the ends and I think a 9’x4’ table will do the job. I am making it from construction grade lumber, using 2×10 or 2×12 for the top. I will cut the rounded edges off and plan to use a biscuit joiner and biscuits, glue, and clamp it together. Looking into getting cauls to keep it flat and will hand plane the joints and sand the whole top prior to staining and waxing. We’ve had a pine table for 10 years so marks/nicks/dings aren’t a concern (I would rather the babies ding cheaper pine than expensive hardwood).

My concerns/questions are in regards to the strength of a 2×4 for the apron when holding up a top of this length and weight. Fearing it may eventually bow I’m wondering if I need to make this table with 6 legs, or have even considered just adding a 5th leg in the very center. Thoughts?

13 replies so far

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3170 days

#1 posted 09-05-2012 07:19 PM

I would use 2×6 for apron, even if I rip it down to 4 or 5 inches, because the quality of the 2×6 lumber is much better. I suspect because these are often used for rafters. But, that’s just my opinion..

I have been looking into building a 10 seater myself, 42” x 102”.
Been torn between a Stickley #622 style, which is a trestle style table and a farm type with aprons.
If I settle on the farm house style I plan to put a 5th leg in the center.

For a 4ft wide top you might have a problem with expansion. Will probably need some sort of floating breadboard ends to keep from splitting the top.

View Surfside's profile


3389 posts in 2373 days

#2 posted 09-05-2012 07:31 PM

Make sure you’re using a hard wood for the table base.

-- "someone has to be wounded for others to be saved, someone has to sacrifice for others to feel happiness, someone has to die so others could live"

View Michael's profile


4 posts in 2289 days

#3 posted 09-05-2012 07:32 PM

Thanks so much for the response. I’ll look into the 2×6 aprons but will rip them down, but a curved end might be pleasing to the eye.

In all the different plans I’ve looked at online I’ve never seen one with that 5th leg, just something that seemed like it would work but I was afraid it would be laughed at. Glad to know I’m not too far off base. As for the expansion, my plan was to use plenty of z-clips in grooves cut with my biscuit joiner. I’ve read that some don’t like them but I don’t intend to move this table around once it’s in place, so I think they will be fine and much easier for me than other methods I’ve read about.

As for a breadboard, I was very interested in making them but I’m not sure how wifey will take to the long planks not being flush with the breadboard ends for several months out of the year. The plan was to just use the z-clips for expansion and leave the ends exposed. Am I missing something with that approach?

View Clint Searl's profile

Clint Searl

1533 posts in 2561 days

#4 posted 09-05-2012 07:53 PM

You don’t need no stinkin’ extra leg(s) or anything heavier than a 2×4 apron. I would probably design it with the legs inset fron the ends about 12” or so.

-- Clint Searl....Ya can no more do what ya don't know how than ya can git back from where ya ain't been

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2364 days

#5 posted 09-05-2012 08:54 PM

that’s a heavy table. I think you can get by with a 2×6 apron and a 3/4 top. I would overbuild the apron, like a sad torsion box, and Z clip a top on it. I did something similar with an outside table. The box was made of 2×6s with two interior short aprons. If you inset the legs 1’ on each side your span, on a 9’ table, is 7’, which will hold a 2×6 box with a lot of weight on it. Once the table is a box, the actual table top can be 3/4 material or even sheet goods. It will save a bunch of weight. You can go a bit thinner and save a bunch of cash by re-sawing the 4×10s.

View Michael's profile


4 posts in 2289 days

#6 posted 09-05-2012 09:08 PM

Thanks for the info. Can you explain a sad torsion box for me?

View rustfever's profile


760 posts in 3510 days

#7 posted 09-05-2012 09:08 PM

Before you get to far into the making of the table, you might like to go to and view their suggested measurments for dining room tables. This sitet was a great deal of help to me when I made my DIL her dining room table.

This sight covers such details as minimum clearance under the apron for you legs: Talbe leg distance from end/side of the table so as to not interfear with seated guests , etc. This site also give space required for each person.
Check it out.

BTY, I would be fearfull of making a dining table from any but 7% MC lumber. Construction lumber that claims to be “kiln Dried’ is usually dried down to only about 18%. Wood with a moisture content of 18% will move significantly once brought indoors

-- Rustfever, Central California

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2364 days

#8 posted 09-05-2012 09:25 PM

Thanks for the info. Can you explain a sad torsion box for me?

A sad torsion box would be, in this case, a 3×7’ box (12 inches in on the ends and 6 inches on the sides) with two extra short aprons inside.

like this:

if that sad drawing made any sense. the black is the apron, the brown are the edges of the top. This is roughly to scale. This way the longest span of any unsupported top would be 2.5’ x 3 ’ or so (a little less) which is probably sag resistant for even 1/2” lumber (as opposed to 2x material which can span 6-8 feet without too much in the way of sag.

View Michael's profile


4 posts in 2289 days

#9 posted 09-05-2012 09:56 PM

Rustfever, fantastic info, thanks so much. I’ve read as much about the moisture content and am buying a gauge to test the wood. I’ll bring it inside to stack with fans on it to further dry it.

CplSteel, your drawing totally makes sense and that was what I had in mind, about 1’ past the aprons on the ends and about 6” overhang on the sides. I wasn’t sure what you meant in your earlier post about short aprons as I’ve seen them labeled as cross braces, but yes I had imagined 2 or 3 of them. If I do the 5th leg I think the easiest way for me to attach it would be two inside aprons on either side of the leg in the center, then one on each half that is centered between the center leg and outside apron. Overkill perhaps, but I need to stay inside my skill set and I’m learning all of this as I go.

View casual1carpenter's profile


354 posts in 2675 days

#10 posted 09-05-2012 10:46 PM

Michael, 9 mouths to feed I can see why you want to use the construction grade lumber. I believe I have read that lumber air dries at 1” per year properly stickered, held down, etc. Don’t rightly know how long the 2by’s will need but some fresh 2by’s that I have milled were really wet. Did you consider incorporating some plywood into the design? A lot of higher priced store bought tables are core material edged with wood and veneered. You could always sticker the construction lumber let it dry well and replace the top with the one you really want at a later date if you choose to. You mentioned cauls, someone on a post here mentioned cauls and to look up “Mike Henderson” and caul, was an interesting read and they are shop made 2 by 4’s i believe. Might even consider saving clamps and strategically placed “all thread” with washers and nuts could do the job.

View CplSteel's profile


142 posts in 2364 days

#11 posted 09-05-2012 11:50 PM

Michael, if you are going with the extra support inside the apron then you can get by with much thinner material on top. 3/4” pine boards would work fine. As casual carpenter says, sheet goods, with a veneer or banding can work as well.

View Woodknack's profile


12430 posts in 2580 days

#12 posted 09-08-2012 06:39 AM

2x material is overkill even for a table of that size although I had a 2x SPF dining table for years and loved it. It was finished dark and the small dings just added to it’s character. I built a workbench top from 2×12 southern yellow pine, flattened it with a hand plane and it has held up perfectly for over ten years. 5/4 decking would be an excellent compromise but would come at additional cost. Get the driest material you can, try a real lumberyard if possible instead of HD/Lowes. Other options are SYP (southern yellow pin) which is a good deal harder than white pine, poplar, douglas fir or cypress.

-- Rick M,

View joseph000's profile


346 posts in 2226 days

#13 posted 01-17-2013 08:59 AM

Hi everyone,
Thanks for sharing information.The most important aspect of a dining room is the dining table itself, and by choosing the right dining table, you can not only show your creative side, but also deal with a few seating problems. If you get the right table for your dining room, then you can serve multiple purposes ranging from enhancing your interior designs, or expanding to seat a growing family or flourishing social life.

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