Jessica Hoffman
Jessica Hoffman
  • Tutorial Team
  • Boynton Beach, FL

Simple Dining Table Top “NO SCREWING”!

9 Materials
$100
2 Hours
Easy

no real tools or skill needed for this one!!! In my first couple attempts, i made it way more complicated than necessary, reading wayyyyyy too many tutorials, spending way too much time looking for the right wood, caught up in the little details! In the end, i realized the simpler, the better and now i have this down to about two hours and minus the legs, less than 100.00!!
1x3 Select pine, Home Depot
1x3 Select pine, Home Depot
This pine rocks!! It’s inexpensive, perfectly straight and if you are game for a 6ft table, doesn’t even need to be cut! This table top has NO SCREWS!! (Minus the support/skirt underneath)! That’s right... ZERO screws and absolutely NO cutting! Because it’s so light, all you need is glue and a few clamps. The glue is actually so strong, that once it’s set, the boards will actually rip/tear before the wood can be pulled apart! (In fact, be careful not to let glue come out of the seams and dry by your clamps, or you will be pulling broken little pieces of wood around them!)
Gluing up in sections
Gluing up in sections
The first step is laying out the boards. I used 14 1x3 boards (actual measurement is 2.5), to make a 6ft by 35” table. This would make enough room to seat six average size adults, comfortably. By laying out the boards, you can look at the grain patterns and customize your look. The patterns are all different (different trees, etc.) so I try to line up the grain to match, as closely as possible. This is truly beautiful wood and I like it as much, if not more, than much more expensive wood, sold by linear foot. Once you are happy with the look, make sections of 3-5 boards and glue them together. Using ELMERS WOOD GLUE (this is old-school wood glue and it takes stain, so if it drips, you won’t be left with white marks where stain couldn’t be absorbed- and believe me... I learned the hard way!! Many other wood glue brands are out there and are strong, but this is the ONLY one that accepts stain!) tipping each board on it’s side, squeeze a thin layer, you don’t need much, at all.. just make a thin “ribbon” (using the tip of the bottle to flatten it) and put the boards back together, making sure they are even.

Clamp the sections:
This is important! Again, i learned the hard way!!! Pay attention!
When clamping, if you are not experienced in this, it’s natural to think that you must first attach the clamps along the width, squeezing them as tightly as possible to get good adhesion. Don’t do that!!! The result will be uneven boards!!
First, clamp vertically! Chances are, if you are buying wood from any of the big box stores, even though they should be technically straight, you will have a couple stubborn ones. So once they are pushed together, use small clamps to even them up. After this is done, using your horizontal clamps, tighten just enough to make sure they are touching- with no obvious gaps in the seams. Make sure you have a damp/wet rag in your hand, because as you tighten them up, some glue will come through. Also... if you have any small wood scraps available, place them under each clamp, so you aren’t left with grooves from where you tightened.

Clamps, rag, wood scraps under clamps
Clamps, rag, wood scraps under clamps
Once each section is dry, remove clamps. If the glue layers are fairly thin, they should be ready in less than an hour. (Not totally ready, as in cured, but ready enough to join the sections!) now take each section and spread the thin ribbon lines of glue, line up and clamp. Same as above. This is where it gets exciting. You can see your table top and it’s beautiful!!
All sections joined
All sections joined
now you wait! This is the hardest part, but very important! Walk away! Ideally, you should just leave it alone. For me, i usually plan this, so I am joining it all together at the end of the evening, so I can just go to bed and leave it alone. If you aren’t that patient, give it at least an hour before removing the clamps. This is not recommended, but in all honesty, I have done it more than once, without disaster.
Sand and stain
Sand and stain
once you have chosen your stain (many recipes online to accomplish different looks) take out a sanding block, or if you have it, Palm/orbital sander (Not necessary, because very little sanding is required) and make sure everything is smooth.
simple dining table top no screwing
Apply stain!! I apply very thin layers- because my layers are so thin, I only usually need about 20 minutes for the first two coats. Depending on the look, sometimes that’s all it takes. If I’m looking for a deeper color, the third and fourth layers should dry longer. Just make sure nothing is tacky to touch, before applying the next layer.
Polyurethane/top coat
Polyurethane/top coat
For the final step, make sure the stain is completely dry. Using a sponge brush, apply your top coat!
Beautiful new dining table top!
Beautiful new dining table top!
There are lots of tutorials on making the support/skirt, legs, etc. I wanted a mid-century modern finished look, so I made a simple support and ordered hairpin legs at www.hairpinlegs.com
Dinner is calling!
Dinner is calling!
simple dining table top no screwing
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Jessica Hoffman

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Have a question about this project?

3 questions
  • Jane
    on Mar 24, 2018

    I love this and was looking to do this miself ---then found YOUR wonderful tutorial. I would ask though that you do not show how you supported it underneath? you took strips of wood and placed them across the panels? I think that would have been helpful to see the WHOLE construction ---not just the top. I know the hairpin legs are super simple ---but curious about how you braced the "undercarriage"...thanks!

  • Ann
    on Mar 28, 2018

    what are you clamping “”vertically”? It appears you are clamping 2 boards together at a time width-wise then 2 of these 2 lengths together to make 4 togethe

  • Carol Cole
    on Apr 2, 2018

    How do the hairpin legs go on??????

    • Lin Collins
      on Dec 31, 2018

      Too bad Miss Jessica didn't see fit to pull the chairs back out of the way so we could better see the legs. Naturally she didn't see fit to answer the question because it wasn't specifically about the "top' of the table.

Join the conversation

3 of 16 comments
  • Barb Orthmann
    on Mar 28, 2018

    great tutorial- beautiful table :)

  • JA
    on Apr 14, 2018

    Why does the stain look splotchy? Is it the type of wood that causes that? I want a smooth color, country or not.

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