Woot woot! We are so excited to share our latest project with you! We have always wanted a beautiful farmhouse style table, but have never had the space to accommodate one. Now that we moved into our new home, we are so grateful that we finally have the space. It wasn’t long until we were on the search for a farmhouse table style that we liked and would fit our space well. We have made a few farmhouse tables in the past that were fairly straight forward with 4 legs and a table top. If you want to see them, you can find them here and here. As much as we loved these tables, we wanted something with a little more pizzazz.
After going back and forth we found the table we wanted! Not surprising, it was a table that Ana White had posted on her blog page, and you can find the full plans with a the materials to buy and a cut list for her table here. We made a few modifications to her plans in order to build it to fit our space. In this tutorial, I only included cut lengths and widths for pieces that I deviated from the original plans. Here we go!
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Tools we used:
Table saw – I use an 1989 9″ Craftsman. Its so reliable that I haven’t had the need to upgrade.
Corded drill (You can use a cordless drill for everything, but I find it much easier to drill pocket holes with a corded drill)
Sanding discs – If I can stress one thing about getting materials for your projects, it would be stay away from buying sanding discs at a big box store. You will pay way too much for not a lot of discs. If you do quite a bit of sanding like I do, I always go with Amazon. You can buy a 100 pack for $20. Instead of a 5 pack for $5 at a big box store. You can get all the grits you need here.
Phase 1: Building the base
I basically followed the cut list for the X table from Ana Whites plans for everything on the base except the cross braces that connect the two table base ends. Her table plans are for an 8 ft table, but I thought that size would be a little too much for our space. I decided on a 6 foot table with a one foot overhang on the ends so you could comfortably sit at the heads of the table. Because of this, I deviated from the plans and put in 41 inch cross braces, and just rough fit and marked in my angled pieces and made them fit.
First, I glued and screwed the center braces for the legs.
I predrilled and screwed in two 2″ screws into each side.
I did the next two steps in reverse order than the plans. I attached the 1×4 to the top and then added in the angled braces. I chose to do it this way in case my angled cuts weren’t spot on. I attached the 1x4s with wood glue and 2″ screws. When it comes to screwing in the horizontal pieces that will stack on top of each other, its important to makes sure to drive the screw head below the surface of the wood. That way, when the next piece goes on top, it can be level with the surface. You can use a countersink bit to predrill, but because it would be covered up, I predrilled a regular pilot hole and just drove the screw in just passed the surface. Using the hole drill setting on your drill when screwing it in can help, if you are having trouble getting it below the surface.
Then, I cut the angled pieces and attached with wood glue and 2″ brad nails.
When it comes to following the plans and getting the right miter cuts, its very important to pay attention to which direction you are cutting each end. For the angled pieces above and the next two layers on the table ends, the plans say to cut off parallel. As you can see below, you want the cut lines to be going in the opposite direction. I was working on this stage of the build late in the evening and actually made the wrong cut two times. Ugh! So if you do too, don’t feel bad. It happens. I usually buy a few extra boards in case something goes amiss.
I knew I was going to use 3″ screws to attach the last 2×4 on the top and bottom, so I just used some glued and 2″ brad nails to attach the second layer.
I predrilled holes and screwed down through the top of the last layer with 3″ screws and drove them passed the surface of the wood. This would hold all three horizontal layers together nicely.
I totally forgot to take a picture of the next step, but I attached 5″ pieces of 1×4 to each side of the bottom of the table ends to act as feet. You can see them in the next pictures, but I just attached the using wood glue and 1 1/4″ screws.
Outside of the original plans for the table, I saw several other people who have done this build, but none of them said how they attached the table top to the base. I mulled over a few ideas, and decided to use pocket holes. One problem, my table ends wouldn’t fit in my pocket hole jig. I could have went and bought one that you clamp to boards and drill them, but I figured out how to do it using the jig from my K4 System.
Next, it was time for the two cross braces to hold the table ends together. I cut these to 41″ each. This would leave a 12″ overhang on both ends of the 6ft table. We wanted someone to be able to sit at the head of the table and not have their legs cramped up against the ends. I drilled pocket holes into each side of the cross braces.
Because I had attached the feet already, when it came time to attached the bottom brace, I laid down two scrap pieces of the 1×4 under each end, so the brace would line up properly. I attached both cross braces with wood glue and 2.5″ pocket hole screws.
The final step of the base assembly is to add the angled braces to the middle. I played around with positioning a bit until I decided that I wanted them to line up 3″ on either side of the center. So I made my mark on the bottom brace where I wanted it. I rough measured from the mark to the corner where the top brace meets the end (27″). I cut a 2×4 to 27″. Next, I held it up on the back side of the braces, lined up the opposite corners with the mark I made previously and the upper corner. This is how I found the angle I needed to cut in order for it to properly fit. I drew a line with my pencil to mark my cuts. Then, at the miter saw, I just moved my blade to match the line I made and cut. I needed to make a couple adjustments to get it just right.
I attached these by putting wood glue on the ends, holding them in place, and using some 2″ brad nails at the bottom. Then, I sunk a 2″ screw from the bottom up into the top cross brace. I needed a 6″ phillips bit to get into that tight area.
Just like that, the base is fully assembled and ready to stain or paint. Its much easier, in my opinion, to do your staining or painting work on the base without the table top attached. As I normally do, I enlisted my beautiful wife to do the painting.
As usual she did an amazing job, but I wasn’t surprised by that. 🙂
Phase 2: Build your table top
There are a number of ways you can build your top. A 30 minute session on Pinterest will more than likely tell you 10 different things to do. I have a pretty simple way to achieve a flat and seamless table top. I use a combination of glue, clamps, and pocket holes to ensure my tops are strong, flat, and mostly seamless. Be sure to take the time when you buy lumber to get straight, flat pieces. This will ensure a great table top. Also, if you spend a lot of time moving lumber around to find the right ones, please take the time to restack the pieces you don’t take. There is nothing worse than going to buy lumber to find a huge mess of the stacks. Be considerate and leave it better than you found it.
First step is to cut your boards to length. I wanted a 6 ft table, so I cut each of my boards down to 76 inches. Yes, yes, I know 76 inches isn’t 6 ft. I always cut them about 4 inches longer than they need to be. That way, once I get my top glued up, I can shave 2 inches off each side so I end up with a straight, clean line on the end of my table. Doing it this way, takes some of the pressure off getting these first cuts exact.
Second step is to rip your boards to the right width on your table saw. Some people skip this step, but it is important to do this step if you want your top to be seamless. I deviated from the plans where they have four 2x10s for the top. To avoid warping and cupping, I like to use smaller width boards. I decided on a six 6″ wide boards for the top. I used 2x8x8s. You will want to rip both sides of the boards to eliminate the rounded edges that dimensional lumber has when you buy it from the store. So I ran my 2x8s over the table saw and took off about a half inch off the first side. Then ran them all over again at the proper 6″ width ensuring that I cut off the rounded edge on my second pass.
After you have all of your boards cut, its time to lay them out and figure out your desired configuration. There is one very important step to consider when laying out your table top. In my experience, and through reading through piles of blogs and tutorials on building table tops for previous tables I have built, it is very important to alternate your grain patterns from one board to the next. If your first board has an over arch grain, the next board should be an under arch. I’m sure there is a fancy term for this, but arches make sense to me. This allows your joints to naturally resist cupping. See the picture below to see the board on the left has an over arching grain and the one on the right has an under arching grain. When I buy wood for my table tops I make sure to get boards that are straight, but also that they have a clear arch in the grain.
Once you get your table top laid out the way you want it, number each board in order in case you forget, and it can also be helpful to label the bottom so you remember. I have had a few times where I skipped this step, and I ended up having to lay it all out again because I couldn’t remember. Its a drag, but not the end of the world.
After you label your boards, its time to drill pocket holes. You will want to drill your pocket holes in the direction of the next board. Some people like to do pocket holes going in both directions on each board, but I haven’t experienced any tangible benefit from the extra time and extra screws. Perhaps, if you decide to only use pocket hole screws to hold your top together, there would be some added benefit to doing it that way. I did a pocket hole about every foot. Just make sure not to drill a hole within 2-3 inches from each end. Remember, we will be cutting 2 inches off each side after the top is assembled. You don’t need to drill pocket holes into your final board because you wont be attaching anything to that end.
Once, all of your pocket holes are drilled, its time to glue up your top. I always like to start with my first two boards, so I only have to worry about one joint at a time. Set out your clamps on a flat surface. I have been told to have 1 clamp per foot of your top, but I only had four at the time of this build, so I made due. The clamps I used are from Harbor Freight and I bought them because I needed some clamps fast for a previous build. They get the job done, but can cause more of a headache than the savings I got on them. Soon, I shall invest in some better clamps, but they have worked for me thus far.
Put a generous amount of glue on the inside surface of your first board and butt it up against your second board. I like to clamp boards with the top facing up, so I can clean up th glue that squeezes out of the joint. Before you tighten your clamps, I always put scrap wood between my clamp and the actual board, so as I tighten the clamp, it doesn’t put marks in my board. For this project, I used the pieces that I ripped off when cutting them to width.
Start on one end, line up the boards so the tops are flush, and tighten the first clamp until the joint is tight. Then, move to the next one down, line up the seam, and tighten the clamp. If the seam is hard to line up, tighten your clamp a little and put a piece of scrap wood on the the board that needs to be pushed down into place and use a hammer to set it in place. Then, tighten your clamp until its nice and snug. Do this all the way down the line until all of your clamps are tight. Wipe off any glue that squeezed out with a wet rag. It is really important to get all of the glue off. Glue doesn’t take stain, so you will end up with different color seams if you stain it.
While I was waiting for the glue to set, I drilled 2.5″ pocket hole screws into the holes I could reach. This wasn’t necessary, but figured it didn’t hurt. I also like to check on it about 3-5 minutes after I finished my clamping as some additional glue can squeeze through after the fact.
Once the glue sets (The glue I use suggests 30 minutes, but I like to wait about an hour or 2 to be sure. Follow the instructions on your glue bottle), loosen your clamps, add another board, and do it all over again.
After I glue up my last board, I always like to let the whole thing sit clamped up over night. This helps ensure the glue has set and the joints will be strong while I am moving my table top around. Putting too much strain on the joints before the glue is fully set could be problematic.
Once its set, flip the top over and sink in pocket hole screws into each hole. Then, you are ready for sanding and finishing your top. You’re on the home stretch now!
Phase 3: Sanding and Staining
This is the point where if you are going for a really clean top look, you would fill all the of your imperfections in with some stainable wood filler, wait for it to dry, and sand it off with the with rest of the table. We wanted a rustic look, so I did not do this step. There weren’t any very big scuffs or dings anyways. Just a little character. Keep in mind bigger and deeper gouges should be filled because if liquid spills and sits in the gouge, it may eventually penetrate the wood and could cause issues over time. Plus, its hard to get crumbs out of deep gouges too.
I started with a single pass with 60 grit sand paper on the bottom side of the table top to get rid of any splinters.
Then, I flipped the table over and started on the top. You can find a ton of different suggestions for sand paper grits to use for sanding, but generally, you want to start low and go high. I usually do about 3 passes, increasing the grit number each time. I started with 60 grit and it helped work out where my seams weren’t flush. Make sure to sand the end grain as well. I also rounded all of the corners and edges a bit to give it a more worn, well-used look. Then I jumped up to 100 grit and did a pass. Finally, I did a pass with 150 grit. I like to finish with a pass with a higher grit like 220, but I didn’t have any on hand, and I was very happy with the texture and feel of the top after my 150 grit pass. I have read a lot of people suggest going one step higher for the end grain otherwise, you end up with a different color on the top and end grain when staining. I don’t mind when this happens, so I usually don’t go one step further on the end.
Once you are happy with the texture of your table top, you are ready to stain or finish your top. I dont have any personal suggestions for finishing a raw table top at this time, but a Google search is guaranteed to find you lots of suggestions. I used Minwax Dark Walnut Stain for this table top. I started by staining the bottom. The nice part about doing this first, is that you can experiment a little bit on what you want the top color to be. You can do this on scrap wood too, but the bottom isn’t visible most of the time, and I didn’t do too many tests. This particular stain penetrates very quickly, so I usually just apply and wipe it down right away.
Then, I flipped it over and stained the top, sides and ends.
Phase 4: Attaching your table top
Find a nice flat, clean spot in your shop and flip your table top upside down. Flip your table base over and set it on the table top. Align it where you need it, and sink 2.5″ pocket holes screws into your pocket holes. I don’t use glue on this step because I want to try to allow some room for the top to move. Wood is “alive” and will change with varying temperature and moisture in the air. If you attach it too tight, it can crack on you. I have even seen it suggested to sink the pocket hole screws all the way in and then back them out a quarter turn. Do not over tighten your pocket hole screws. Set your drill to a small number, so it doesn’t drive in too deep.
Phase 5: Finishing
Now its time to ad a clear coat to the top to seal and protect the wood. This is the step that can make or break your hard work building your table, and your enjoyment of it for years to come. Do a little research into what you want to use to finish your table. I use Minwax Polycrylic in a matte finish for most of my furniture work. I love it because its water based which makes application and clean up super easy, it self levels, and it barely has an odor. The smell is very minimal, so I have even applied it indoors when its been too cold to apply outside.
The key to a good finish is doing multiple thin layers that are evenly spread. Try not to work it too much or you will get bubbles. After you finish each coat walk around and look for any spots where it may be dripping or not spread evenly. Minwax suggests a minimum of 3 coats, so I usually do 4. Lightly sand with a high grit (220 or higher) sanding block between coats.
Once you are done with your final coat, let it sit over night in your shop to ensure the finish has set. Read the instructions that come with your finish as to when normal use can start. Get it into moved into place, then stand back and look at your masterpiece, and enjoy many years creating fond memories with family and friends at your beautiful, new farmhouse table! Nice work! Comment below if you have any question about this build, and make sure to follow this website by entering in your email to the right to receive updates on all of our upcoming projects.