Farm Table Construction

Yet another rainy day here in NC. I decided to go through my pictures and share how we made our Farm table. Thanks to my brother in-law I was able to obtain the larger solid hardwood I was looking for to construct the table.

I wish I had taken pictures of the stock I used. It looked like firewood. Anyway after sizing my lumber the first pictures shows the first cuts for the tenon used to make the legs. These joints used hand cut Brazilian Cherry pins to attach the legs at the base. After making the legs for each end I set them in place to determine how long the table should be. I also wanted to maximize the lumber. It seemed a shame to have nice long beams only to cut them down.

I used 2 pins at the bottom of the leg and one at the top. The upper timber is not as tall as the lower and is also less visible under the top. When making the holes for the pins the holes are drilled slightly off center in the rail. When the pins are driven in it tightens the joint and there is no need for hardware. The Brazilian Cherry is extremely hard and when it was driven in the 2 pieces are like one now. It has been several moths now and these joints show now sign of coming apart.

Now that the legs are assembled it was time to make the stretchers. I wanted to assemble this table with no hardware and decided on through tenon for the bottom and a wedged mortise for the top. Because i wanted to make extensions for this table I need to use the wedged tenon to allow for the extension supports. These tenons are also obstructed by the top so it was also less visible. I used the cherry for the wedges for it’s hardness which creates an extremely tight joint when assembled.

With the table base assembled it was time to turn to making the top. The top is 2″ thick Red Oak. Although this is most likely overkill the goal was to make a table to hand down for generations and hopefully inspire someone to follow in my footsteps. Just sayin Stephen…

On to the top….extensions ….top. Hmm Having no certain idea how to add extensions that once installed were as solid as the table and not wanting to copy someone else’s design I was looking at the scrap pile when it occurred to me that the Oak was going to give me the best chance I milled up some Oak into 2″x 2″ stock and laid it onto the legs.

I notched the upper rail to fit the supports and attached both supports with a half lapped cross piece. The support slides under the end of the top when not in use. To install the extension it slides out to a stop and the Extension has two 2″ diameter dowels that are attached to the bottom of the extension. These slip into the cross piece locking the support to the extension and table. I added anti tip guides on the bottom of the extension on either side. (quarter inch steel plates that swivel out when needed) When the extension is installed you can stand on the outer corners of the extension and they have zero sag. One of the things we have had to adjust to is walking around the table. Walking into it is not recommended as we have found out. Solid as a tank.

With the table ready for sanding and finishing it was time for a discussion about color. This table is new and old wood and would fit in a farm house style or modern home. We decided on something a little different and their was a process I wanted to try called “
Ebonizing” After researching I decided that the top would be full black and the base would be tinted black. I made my solution of vinegar and steel wool and let it sit for some time. Oak reacts due to the tannin in the wood causing it to turn black. I wiped it on and was very disappointed….at first. The Oak turned a very nice dark black after about 30 minutes. I did this 2 times but I don’t think it got any darker. The Oak has a bit of a bluish tone but the reason I did this was that it is more like a dye and the color goes deeper. After this process was done I used two coats of black gel stain with sanding sealer between coats. Because of the potential of black showing wear I used several coats of a high performance matte top coat sanding between coats. Starting with 220 grit all the way through 800 grit. Although some scratches are inevitable and with every blemish character is added the top does show some scratches but the top coat can be re-coated with out having to do the whole top.

The base was finished with the same process minus the Ebonizing. The base is a mix of Poplar and Hickory and does not react the same way. This allowed the grain to come through and add highlights to the base.