Considering a modern dining table - Advice for getting started - Or if I should start?

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Forum topic by dvhart posted 01-03-2015 02:10 AM 1150 views 0 times favorited 9 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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111 posts in 2983 days

01-03-2015 02:10 AM

Topic tags/keywords: dining table sketchup modern mahogany walnut

It’s been a while folks, but I’ve been getting back into some woodworking after a couple of years spent on a move, career growth, and the early years of a couple of kiddos :-) We’re considering a large modern dining table, along the lines of this one made by Made Studio (

I’d like to seat 10 and do so without the complexity of removable leaves. I’m considering dimensions of 102×48, sitting 3 per side and 2 per end when we need the space (twice a month). I’d use benched on the ends which slide under the overhangs when not in use, making seating for 6 the “normal” mode. I’ve included a slightly raised slab of stone in the center common area of the table of hot serving items. I drew this up in SketchUp, something like this:

I contacted Made Studio, and the ballpark price made my better half shake her head, not going to happen. So my question to you folks: Can an amateur woodworker with very limited time pull something like this off? I could justify some additional tooling, but I am working out of my garage with a 10” 120V/15A HP Jet “Hybrid” Tablesaw, a 6” Jointer, and a portable planer (the Dewalt 4 poster), a large drill press, and an assortment of portable power tools (routers, drills, drivers, a biscuit joiner, etc.). I’d like to use Mahogany or Walnut.

I’ve built a rustic cedar picnic table, bathroom and office cabinets, a small desk, a couple of beds, a tack truck, and a bunch of architectural detail for our previous house. This would be my first large piece of fine furniture. My biggest concern is the glue up and flattening of the table top itself. See my projects ( for evidence of my skill level (or lack there of?) :-)

-- Darren

9 replies so far

View oltexasboy1's profile


250 posts in 1672 days

#1 posted 01-03-2015 02:37 AM

Nice table but I am a more traditional kind of guy, love the over sized harvest tables like the Amish make. Good luck.

-- "The pursuit of perfection often yields excellence"

View Marshall's profile


151 posts in 2023 days

#2 posted 01-03-2015 03:18 PM

You can do it. I’m a similar hobbyist woodworker, and I’m working on both a kitchen and dining table right now (see my blog page). I also have a 6” jointer (short bed). its really undersized for a project like this. That said, I’ve surfaced boards for a 7’ and a 6’ workbench as well as the 6’ dining table that I’m working on. Not ideal, but it worked. My next tool is an 8” long bed though… or maybe one of the 12” jointer/planer combos.

Glue ups are pretty straight forward. Practice on some scraps if youve never done it before. Glue up in sections. For my workbench, I only did one glue joint at a time and then ran each section back over the jointer until the sections were too wide for the jointer. For the dining table, I glued four boards at a time to make each half and then glued the halves together. Make sure you use enough clamps. I dont really have a definition of enough… maybe there is one out there. My rule of thumb is to add another clamp :)

For the flattening, see my blog post where I responded to the question you left me.

Good luck!

-- Marshall -

View TheWoodenOyster's profile


1313 posts in 1903 days

#3 posted 01-03-2015 04:18 PM

I made a dining table when I was about at your skill level (and probably still am). I used a cabinet saw, a 6” jointer, a bandsaw not worth metnioning, and a 12” planer. It came out well, and you can see it in my projects. I think it took me in the ballpark of 160 hours. It was 42” x 84”.

As far as your concerns go:

1. It was a huge challenge to make the dining table in a 1 car garage. I had to make a table flipping jig to put the finish on by myself.

2. I think I glued the top up in 3 separate glue ups. It isn’t fun, but it can be done.

3. Flattening is difficult. I scraped the glue joints and then sanded from 80 to 220 for about 15 hours.

Here are some other things to consider as well. You will not be reasonably be able to face joint a 102” board on a 6” planer. You will have to just plane the faces and try to squeeze out any warp. You will be able to joint the edges on your jointer, but it will be the best workout you get in months. Then next thing is that that table is going to be totally unwieldy when it is all glued up. You won’t be able to budge it, much less pick it up. I could barely carry my top when it was finished. Keep that in mind and come up with a good plan for how you plan to apply the finish.

Good luck

-- The Wood Is Your Oyster

View Minorhero's profile


373 posts in 2573 days

#4 posted 01-03-2015 05:13 PM

You can definitely do it. I am at your skill level or possibly below and I just made a dining room table.

You can see the project here:

I had access to a wider jointer, but otherwise I had the same tooling. I learned that face jointing a board is absolutely essential for a project like this. Before my table build I would fudge my projects by running something on opposite sides through the planer. When doing smaller projects you can make things flat simply by adding more clamps when doing the glue-up. For something this size that was not an option. You must start off with fairly flat boards.

Your table will never be as flat as one that comes out of a factory. But it will be flat enough that only someone running their hands flat against the top of your table all over the place will be able to detect tiny deviations. And really, who does that? Basically just other woodworkers.

One design tip though. don’t make the center stone raised above the surface. Make it flush. That way if you use a table cloth it won’t look odd.

Another idea is buy the stone first. That way you will know your dimensions and will be able to get a cast away piece from your local granite seller instead of trying to get them to custom grind something to fit your table.

View Ub1chris's profile


116 posts in 1348 days

#5 posted 01-03-2015 05:38 PM

A table is a good first “big” project, and could be easier than a desk or bed depending on the design. Jointing / glue up of 9ft boards will be tricky – be careful here – this is what everyone will see first.

For flattening the top you could consider having a pro cabinet shop run it through their wide belt sander. It’ll be dead flat is under a minute. I love woodworking, but have no desire to sand for 15 hours or more (sorry Oyster)


View jiggles's profile


48 posts in 1245 days

#6 posted 01-03-2015 05:45 PM

I don’t know your feelings about repurposed things. But I used a solid core cherry laminated door as a top for a credenza/now entertainment center now project. I cut it to fit and laminated the cut sides, stained to match the top. Got the door at the restore less than $40. Of coarse you would need to find a longer door slab, perhaps even a new one. But with two door slabs you would simply put your stone slab in the middle, attach to base and you’ve got a table.

-- Jiggles, Huntsville (Prison City), Texas

View RussellAP's profile


3103 posts in 2254 days

#7 posted 01-03-2015 09:30 PM

You will need a firm bench that you either put a 4×8 piece of 3/4 MDF on or an MDF bench. This is a very long table and gluing it up will prove a major challenge to get it straight. Consider making it slightly less than half the length and joining the two 4’ glue-ups with a board at 90 degree in the middle and on both ends.

When you buy your wood, look for a local mill. They are almost always cheaper, by up to half, and they also provide services like planing, straight-line rip, and sanding.

When you glue up the wood, use a biscuit joiner and hardwood biscuits. I’d say every 10 inches or so. This will make a better joint and help even the wood out so you don’t have any off set between the planks. Your finished product will look much better if you don’t have to sand down any offset between the wood.

I’d glue it up in halves width wise and they glue the halves together.

Like I said, a local mill will plain it down and sand it for you after you put it together. All you do then is stain and seal.

-- A positive attitude will take you much further than positive thinking ever will.

View Woodknack's profile


11485 posts in 2348 days

#8 posted 01-03-2015 11:12 PM

I felt similar trepidation before building my mahogany table and it is smaller than you propose. The challenges were working on a large project in a small shop, something was always in the way; and having enough large clamps to glue up the top. I mulled over flattening the top and eventually just hand planed it flat, it wasn’t as big a deal as my brain made it out to be, just work. It took me an afternoon to flatten it starting from rough lumber. “Looks flat” is good enough. First I planed across the grain to get it reasonably flat then with the grain to remove the marks. A little sanding and the top looked perfect. Of course mahogany is a fairly soft wood, the harder the wood obviously the more work it will be. The trick is aligning the grain to avoid tearout or use dead straight grain lumber so it doesn’t matter, and making your hand plane super sharp. I used a cheap but tuned up hand plane and it turned out great but investing in a quality plane will make things a little easier.

-- Rick M,

View dvhart's profile


111 posts in 2983 days

#9 posted 01-04-2015 03:57 AM

Thanks for all the tips and sharing your experiences. It sounds like I should look into a wider jointer with a longer bed and hunt around for a cabinet shop or similar that would be willing to run the final top (and legs) through a 48”+ wide belt sander. Even if I pay them $100 a pass I’d still be a lot of money ahead :-)

@Jiggles: The door slabs are a decent economical solution, but in our case we’ve been making do with our college furniture for a good long while (16 years?) and are looking to move to a really nice heirloom dining table. Also, we want solid wood over veneer so we can refinish the top once the kids are done stabbing it with forks…

@RusselAP: I recently stopped using my PC Biscuit Joiner on things like this as it seems to fight more than align. Maybe something is wrong with my tool – or maybe I’m incompetent… Or maybe I should buy a Festool Domino Joiner…. ;-) As to splitting up the length, I’d consider that a last resort as it would work against the continuous solid look we’re going for. It is a solid pragmatic suggestion though, thanks. The glue-up table is something I was wondering about. Building an assembly table just for this, possible a torsion box style, would probably be a worthwhile investment.

@MinorHero: Beautiful table, thanks for sharing. The Slab would only be “just” higher than the table itself, just enough that an offset pot wouldn’t damage the wood or the finish. And tablecloths are bit too high brow for the likes of us ;-)

-- Darren

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