How to Make My Wood Table Tops

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We entertain a lot, and a few years ago, I got tired of renting plastic tables. So, I built my own wood table tops that look like our expensive dining room table!

You all know how much I love to entertain. Four years ago, I came up with an idea to solve my shortage of tables. I designed and made wood table tops that fit over regular plastic folding tables (the cheap kind). Today, I am sharing how to make my wood table tops.

Table with Lights
You Made that?
Setting the Table

The photo above does not show an expensive wooden table. It shows two homemade table tops sitting on top of two cheap folding plastic tables.

I think this just might be one of my best ideas ever.

Hundreds of you have asked about this DIY. I am so happy to share it today.

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How to Use the Wood Table Tops

Three Ways to Use My Wood Table Tops

In the three years since I made these wood table tops, we have used them dozens of times. You can also see them here, here, and here.

How to Use My Wood Table Tops

Why Do These Wood Table Tops Work So Well?

These work well for a lot of reasons. 

  • They look nice enough to use without a tablecloth.
  • These table tops fit snugly over the plastic tables (there’s a frame underneath) and are very secure.
  • They sit 6 – 8 people each.
  • If you make two tabletops, they can fit together to make a square or a long table and sit 12 – 14 people.
  • Storage is easy. We store our two table tops behind the armoire on our covered back porch.  (Although if you look closely at our back porch photos, you can barely see them behind the armoire.)

You can barely see Andrew and Dave carrying the wood table top outside from the back porch in this photo.

Table Top from Wood

I did have help making these table tops.  My handyman (who is used to my crazy ideas and helped me build our outdoor planters) has the tools and carpentry knowledge. Between the two of us, we make the perfect team. (Case in point …  I had no idea what a biscuit joiner was. I mean, it sounds like a cooking tool. But apparently, it’s not.)

We bought the lumber at Home Depot and brought it home.

Getting the Supplies for the Wood Table Tops

When I dreamed of making these, I thought I was making table tops that would always be covered with a tablecloth. Thus, I chose to use cheap lumber. But once I stained them, I realized they looked nice and didn’t need a tablecloth.

I have used our table tops in the dining room many times, and friends constantly ask when I got a “new dining room table.” They have a very farmhouse look and look great with our dining and outdoor chairs.

If I ever make them again, I will likely upgrade the lumber. But it certainly isn’t necessary.

What You Need to Make Wooden Table Tops

Two – Sanded Plywood (FSC Certified) Common: 19/32 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft.; Actual: 0.578 in. x 48 in. x 96 in.

Three – 1 in. x 6 in. x 8 ft. Premium Kiln-Dried Square Edge Whitewood Common Board

One  – #20 Wood Biscuits (and a biscuit joiner tool)

Three – 1 in. x 2 in. x 8 ft. Select Kiln-Dried Square Edge Whitewood Board

One can – Fast Dry Wood Stain (I used gray.)

One six-foot plastic folded table.

The finished size of the table is 94′ x 44″. This includes a 1″ trim around the outer edge of the entire table. 

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Cut Lengths

Cut the plywood into three 14″ x 64″ lengths and two 14″ x 42″ lengths. 

Next, cut the 1″ x 6″ boards (for the underside frame) into two 92″ lengths and two 30 1/2″ lengths. (These measurements are based on using a 72″  x  30″ plastic folding table. I suggest you cut the two 92″ boards but wait to cut the shorter boards until later.)

Cut the 1″ x 2″  boards based on your finished tabletop size. Remeasure the outside frame once the table is assembled and incorporate the mitered edges.  The finished table top should measure roughly 94″ x 44″.

Wood for the Table Tops

The overall design of the tabletop is three vertical long pieces of wood and an additional vertical piece at each end. I copied this from our Pottery Barn table. I think many dining room tables have this same design.

Obviously, we used the nicest side of the wood for the top.

Making the Wood Tabletops

This is the underneath side.

Measuring the Frame for the Plastic Tables

My favorite part of these tables is the underneath side. I wanted the table top to fit snugly on the tables, so I put a frame on the underside that would sit perfectly on top of a cheap, foldable plastic table. 

That might be my most brilliant idea ever.

You can see one of the plastic tables through the gate. Yes, it is one of those cheap tables that many of us already own.

Here is the underside of the table below.

Adding the Frame to Wood Table Tops

Because of the low-grade wood, there was a lot of sanding involved. With more excellent wood, this might not be as necessary. (Note to self for next time.)

Sanding the Wood

Building the Wood Table Top

Even though there is a frame on the underneath side of the table top, you still need to secure the three vertical pieces of wood to the horizontal ends. That’s because the frame doesn’t lay directly below the seam. 

We used a biscuit joiner to attach the three horizontal boards to each end board (which is not a cooking tool).  (Please see below, as there is a different way to do this without the biscuit joiner.)

Tools to Add the Wood Biscuits

You need a biscuit joiner (or sometimes a plate joiner), a woodworking tool used to join two pieces of wood together. It actually cuts a special hole (or slot) at the end of the wood. And yes, I did use this tool! First, I cut two biscuit slots at each end of the longer (vertical) boards. (Don’t try to cut the corresponding slots in the side of the shorter horizontal boards until later.)

Then, I gently tapped one of the wood biscuits into each slot.

Cutting the Holes with the Biscuit Cutter

I didn’t want the boards to be too close together, so we added a quarter-width between them. (This is certainly not required and caused quite a bit of angst for my handyman. You would think that by now, he is used to my crazy requests.)

Next, cut the slots in the smaller horizontal boards.

So, how do you get the slots to match? Lay the boards flat, mark a centerline on both sides of the biscuit, and cut the slots on the smaller boards accordingly.

Joining the Wood Biscuits

Once the slots are cut, place some wood glue into the empty slot and tap the boards together. Let dry.

Putting the Table Together

If you aren’t too excited about using a biscuit joiner, you could use metal straps to joint the boards instead. You only need to figure out whether the straps will cause the table to not fit snugly on top of the plastic table. I think if you placed them evenly throughout the underneath side, then this might work. It certainly is easier!

Making the Wood Tabletops

The next step is to attach the frame underneath.

Lay the tabletop on the right side down and mark the center lines with a chalk line. Then place your plastic table on top. Confirm the size of the frame by adding  1/4″  around the outside of the table. Make sure the frame size is in the center of your table and straight on all sides.

Attach the 1″ x 6″ boards to the underneath side of the table top with screws.

Adding the Frame to Wood Table Tops

Nest, we added a mitered frame around the outside edge.

Adding Molding to the Table Top

I wanted the frame to drop down a bit so that it made the tabletop look even thicker than it was. So, we used the 2″ side for the drop. 

backside of the wood table tops

The last step is to stain the tables. I used gray stain, but you can use any stain you want. I also didn’t seal the wood, but I suggest you use some protective coating.

When you are done, your table tops should look like this!

Table Lights

My Favorite Outdoor Entertaining Must Haves!


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  1. Genius! I wish I had a reason to need larger tables because I would totally have my husband make these. I am saving this post because you just never know!

  2. Always wonderful! You are so multitalented.
    Leslie, I know this post is about the tables, but would you remember where are your chair covers from?
    Thank you.

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