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How to Build a Reclaimed Wood Dining Table (page 1 of 4)

Build a rustic harvest-style dining table from reclaimed wood planks and gutters.

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Dining Room Table
  • Time

    Day

  • Price Range

    $100 - $250

  • Difficulty

    Moderate

Highlights:

Prepare Top Planks

Be sure wood is dry. Material from a job site or floor joists that existed in a crawlspace may have high moisture content; material from a conditioned space should be dry. Wood can be dried in a kiln (ask your local lumber mill) or stored inside through the winter. If time does not permit, stack wood in a hot dry place with 1" spacers between layers. Allow to dry for a minimum of two weeks.
Rough-cut boards to the desired length, plus 2 inches. A final cut will be done after the planks are joined.

If planks are slightly cupped or twisted, have them planed at a local millwork shop or borrow a tabletop planer and tackle the job yourself. If planing yourself, first check planks for and remove nails and excess dirt*. Run planks though the planer, stripping a small amount of wood from each side as you plane. While the board is going through the planer, manually adjust the depth of the cut to compensate for irregular thickness (or twist) over the board’s length. You can hurt yourself or damage the board or planer if you do not manually adjust as you go. Keep running boards through the planer until the blade has lightly stripped each surface. Next, rip boards on a table saw to create straight edges; planks do not have to be identical in width.

*DIY Tip: Some shops may decline this job to avoid damage to blades from concealed nails and/or embedded dirt. If no other options exist, sand the tabletop with a wide-belt hand-held sander after planks are joined. Keep belt perpendicular to plank joints and move back and forth in a direction parallel to joints.

Find Reclaimed Wood

The top of the table shown was fashioned from old, rough-sawn 2"-thick 2x12s. Rafters and floor joists from renovations and demolition jobs would work just as well*. Make sure to carefully pull nails and staples first.

Two old symmetrical porch columns were cut in half to make four legs. Wooden gutters were used in place of crown trim to cap the table's perimeter.

*DIY Tip: When sourcing materials from a renovation or job site be sure to have clear permission and wear the appropriate safety gear. Be aware that lead paint and asbestos may be mixed in with clean wood. Watch out for and pull nails out of material before loading in a car or truck so reclaimed wood will stack better. Be careful when working with items painted prior to 1979 as they may contain lead-based paint. Be sure to consult the EPA's Renovate Right: Important Lead Hazard Information for Families, Child Care Providers, and Schools pamphlet before disturbing any paint that could contain lead. Building materials produced before 1983 should also generally be tested for asbestos. Contact your local building official for exact requirements.

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