DIY Farmhouse table with a bench
A friend of ours asked us if we could build them a beautiful farmhouse table for their new home. It was something we had never done before. They weren’t looking for the rustic, weathered feel that we so often do with a lot of our work, so it was a great change of pace and learning experience for us. We love a challenge, so, of course, we jumped on such a great opportunity!
Tools used for the project:
Pocket hole jig
1.25″ course thread pocket screws
2″ course thread pocket screws
BEHR Off White Eggshell Paint
Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
Minwax Dark Walnut Stain
Minwax Satin finish Polycrylic
The first step in this project was to build the base for the table and the bench. I used 4×4 posts for the legs and 2x4s for the frame on both the bench and table. Our friend wanted the table to be 4ft x 3ft, and I wanted the table and bench tops to hang over the base a bit on all sides, so I made my cuts for the base a few inches shorter to achieve this look.
After cutting the wood for the table and bench bases, I used a Kreg pocket hole jig to drill pocket holes on the ends of each of the frame 2x4s. At this stage, you will also want to drill some pocket holes going up throughout each 2×4 that you will use to attach the table top later on. It is much easier to do it at this stage than after the base is assembled.
Now its time to assemble the bases. I laid two of the 4×4 posts down on the floor and positioned on the 2x4s between them making sure the pocket holes to attach the table top were pointed in the right direction. I didn’t want the 2x4s to be flush with the outsides of the posts so I laid a piece of scrap wood, that was about .75″ in width, under the 2×4. Using 2″ coarse thread pocket screws and some wood glue, I attached the 2×4 to the 4×4 posts. I repeated this step all the way around the table base until I had all four sides assembled together. I added a 2×4 with pocket holes to the middle of the frame to make it a little more sturdy.
The bench base was a little different because the width of the two side 2x4s weren’t long enough to put in pocket screws. There just wasn’t enough room to screw them in. The solution was to use a lot of wood glue and put heavy lumber on top of it to attach the two sides of the bench base. I also put a few pieces of scrap wood between the bottoms of the legs so the legs would stay square while the glue was drying. I let this sit over night to be sure it was fully adhered together. Notice, I did put pocket holes on the long 2x4s to attach the top later.
After I finished the assembly of the bases, it is time to build the table top. This was a something that I had never tried before, and it was much more challenging than I thought. Because lumber isn’t always perfect, it is important to spend the time to get lumber that is straight and not bowed. The better the lumber, the more precise and clean your table will be. The most challenging part of the table top is getting the seams to line up and be completely flush. If you don’t mind a little ridge at the seams, then this part can be fairly simple.
For the table top, I bought two 2x10x6 boards, one 2x12x6, and one 2x12x8. I used the remaining length of the 2x12x8 and cut it to length for the bench top. I spread some wood glue on the top of the legs and 2x4s of the bench, and sunk 2″ pocket screws from the bottom to secure the bench top.
Store bought 2 inch thick lumber generally has rounded edges, and that doesn’t work very well for smooth seams on the table top, so regardless of the width of the table, you will want to use a table saw to trim off the outside edges along the length of the boards. Because I needed the table to be 36″ wide, I trimmed the 2x12s to 10 inches and the 2x10s to 8 inches. I trimmed .75″ of both sides to get two straight edges on each board. The table needed to be 4 feet in length, but I cut them to 5 feet using a circular saw. I will cut them to the right length after the top is assembled to get a nice, flush, even edge.
After all of my cuts and trims, I drilled pocket holes on the inside edge of the 2x12s. These would be my outside boards so I didn’t need to pocket hole in both directions. Then, I drilled pocket holes going in both directions on the 2x10s so they could be secured on both sides. I forgot to get a picture of this step, so I apologize for not providing a visual.
The next step is to assemble the table top. This is the step where it can be a little more difficult if you want the top to be seamless. If you don’t mind a little ridge, you can just add some wood glue between the boards, lay your boards upside down on a level surface, and sink 1.25″ or 2″ pocket holes screws into the holes and your table top is assembled. If you want the top to be seamless, you will need some bar clamps. I was told that for best results you want a clamp at each end and every 12 inches in between.
Because it was my first time, I decided to glue up two boards first, so I only had one seem to worry about. I laid the clamps out and positioned my boards between them. I put some glue along one edge of the board. The key is to work the seam one clamp at a time. Starting at one side, get your boards flush on the end and make sure the seam where the clamp is flush as well. Tighten the first clamp. Depending on your clamps, make sure they are tight, but don’t damage the wood in the process. Move onto the next clamp. Get the seam flush at this clamp and tighten the second clamp. As you move along, it will get harder and harder to adjust the seam. Have a small piece of scrap wood and hammer handy. You can put the scrap wood on the side that needs adjusting and hit it with the hammer until it lines up. Its important to use the scrap wood, so you don’t damage your table top. Once your last clamp is tightened, you may notice that the edge might not be perfectly flush. This is why it was important to cut your boards a little longer than the final table length. After the table top is fully assembled, you will cut your table to your desired length and this will result in a two flush sides.
You may see in the photo above, I couldn’t quite get the seam flawless on the close end. It was a very small ridge that I was able to sand down easily later. Make sure to clean up any glue that squeezes out of the top with a rag before it dries. I let this sit for an hour or two before I removed the clamps. After removing the clamps, I flipped it over and sunk 1.25″ pocket screws into the holes to fully secure the boards together.
Then, I followed the same process of gluing, clamping, adjusting, drying, and pocket hole screws while adding the third board to the two I had done before. I did the same with the fourth board, and the table top was assembled.
Now onto the home stretch. Decide how you want to finish your table and base. Our client wanted the base to be white, and the top to be a dark brown color. My wife painted the the base of the bench and table with BEHR Off White Eggshell paint. It turned out perfect!
Now is the time to cut your table top to size. I measured out 4 ft from my one flush side and made my cut with a circular saw. If both ends aren’t flush, feel free to trim both sides to get flush ends.
The next thing you will want to do is fill any holes or cracks in the lumber if there are any. If you like the character, then you can skip this step. I used a stainable wood filler from Minwax. It’s just like filling a nail hole in your wall. Take a putty knife or a flat edge and fill the crack with the filler and smooth it out.
Moving on. Its time to sand your tabletop to get the seams perfect and any other blemishes taken care of. I did my first pass with 80 grit sand paper on my orbital sander. I hit the seams and smoothed out the edges as well as removed some dirt and marks that were on the boards. Then, I did a pass with 150 grit to refine it a bit. Finally, I finished it off with fine 220 grit sandpaper for final preparation.
You are now ready to stain. If you don’t want to stain the tabletop, you can skip this step and move right onto your clear coat finish. I stained the bench seat first, and I wish that I waited to assemble it until after staining. To get the right color you want, make sure to test the stain on a piece of scrap wood to make sure its what you like. You can experiment by letting the stain soak for longer and shorter periods of time before wiping it down. The longer you wait, the deeper and darker the color will be. Use a brush or a rag to spread the stain over the wood, and let it sit for a desired time before wiping it off. The dark walnut stain didn’t take very long to get the dark, rich color I was going for. Because the top was already attached, I had to be careful when staining the bottom of the overhanging area, so I didn’t get any on the paint. It took a little longer, but it still turned out great. I learned from my mistake and stained the table top before I attached it.
Then I put a drop cloth down on the ground and set my tabletop upside down on it. Using some wood glue on the top of the base, I positioned the base where it needed to be on the bottom side of the tabletop, and used 1.25″ pocket screws to secure the tabletop to the base.
The last step is to put a clear coat finish on the table. I prefer using Miniwax Polycrylic finish for all of my furniture finishing. It is water based which makes clean up easy, and the fumes are way less pungent than oil based polys. Our client didn’t want the table to be glossy, so I used the polycrylic with a satin finish. I did one coat on the whole table including the base. Then, I did three more coats on the tabletop with a light sanding in between with 220 grit sand paper.
Tada! You have yourself a beautiful farmhouse table with a bench!
We were thrilled to see the final product dressed up in our client’s home! We hope that there be many meals and great conversations with loved ones at this table for years to come. What an honor it was to be apart of creating this!