How to Build a Reclaimed Wood Dining Table
Build a rustic harvest-style dining table from reclaimed wood planks and gutters.
In this project, the table legs and apron were ordered from an online woodworker supply catalog, and reclaimed wood is used for the top.
The legs are attached to the apron with precut mortises and tenons. Apply wood glue to the mortise of one leg, then use a brush to spread the glue evenly (Image 1).
Paint a thin coating of glue onto the matching tenon. Wiggle or tap the tenon into the mortise. Make sure the apron is facing in the right direction (Image 2). Apply glue to the tenon on the apron’s opposite end and to the next leg, then gently tap the leg into position. Assemble the other legs the same way.
Use ratchet straps to hold the apron securely while the glue dries. Check with a carpenter’s square to ensure that the assembly remains square in all dimensions (Image 3). Protect the apron corners from the straps with plywood or cardboard scraps. The straps should be snug, but not too tight. Allow the glue to dry overnight.
The reclaimed wood boards are glued together, side-by-side, to form the table top. Use a biscuit joiner to cut matching slots along the board edges (Image 1). Because this tool can be set to cut the all of grooves at the same precise depth, when you insert the biscuits in the slots and pull the boards together the result is a smooth, level surface (Image 2).
To cut the slots, first lay out the boards on a flat surface in the order you want them to be when the table is complete. Make a light pencil mark across the joints at 12” intervals to indicate the where the biscuits will be placed (Image 3).
Set the biscuit joiner’s fence to the correct height and depth so the cuts will be centered in the board edges. Line up the tool’s centerline with each pencil mark and make plunge cuts for each biscuit. Be sure to plunge the tool fully into each cut.
Test fit a biscuit into each cut. The biscuits should fit snugly into the slots, and when two board edges are clamped together the biscuits should seat deeply enough to allow the board edges to touch.
Using a small brush, apply glue to one biscuit at a time as you insert them into the slots along the edge of the first board. Then brush glue onto the protruding biscuits and all along the board edge.
Apply glue to the edge of the matching board, then fit the boards together. Line up your pencil marks to ensure a proper fit.
Repeat this process with subsequent boards, adding biscuits and gluing the edges as you go, until all of the boards are assembled with their pencil marks aligned.
Use bar clamps to snug the boards tightly together. Do not overtighten the clamps, which can cause the assembly to bow.
Do not wipe off the wet glue or it will smear into the wood. Allow the clamps to remain on while the glue dries overnight, then remove the glue with a scraper or chisel.
When the glue is completely dry, remove the clamps. Scrape away the dried glue. Be careful not to nick or gouge the wood surface. Cut each end off the table top assembly with a circular saw, using a guide to ensure a straight cut.
Sand and smooth the table top ends, sides and top.
Finish the top and leg assembly with your choice of wood stain and protective topcoat.
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