We entertain a lot and I tired of renting plastic tables. So I built my own wood table tops that look like our expensive dining room table! Today I am sharing how to make wood table tops.
You all know how much I love to entertain. Three years 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.)
The photo above is not an expensive wooden table. It is two homemade table tops sitting on top of two cheap folding plastic tables. Look closely at the table(s) below.
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 finally share it today.
How to Use the Wood Table Tops
Why Do These Wood Table Tops Work so Well?
Honestly, these work well for a lot of reasons.
- They look nice enough to use without a tablecloth.
- They 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 any of our back porch photos you can barely see them behind the armoire.)
You can see Andrew and Dave carrying the wood table top outside from the back porch in this photo.
I did have help making these table tops. My handyman (who is used to my crazy ideas and helped 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 kind of sounds like a cooking tool. But apparently it’s not.)
We bought the lumber at Home Depot and brought it home.
When I dreamed up the idea to make these, I thought I was making table tops that would always be covered with a table cloth. Thus, I chose to use cheap lumber. But once I stained them I realized they looked really nice and didn’t need a cloth.
I have used our table tops in the dining room many times and friends always 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
One – #20 FSC Wood Biscuits (and a biscuit joiner tool)
One can – Fast Dry Wood Stain (I used gray.)
The finished size of the table is 94′ x 44″. This includes a 1″ trim around the outer edge around the entire table.
Cut the plywood into three 14″ x 64″ lengths and two 14″ x 42″ lengths.
Cut the 1″ x 6″ boards (for the underside frame) in 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. Once the table is assembled, remeasure the outside frame and incorporate the mitered edges. The finished table top should measure roughly 94″ x 44″.
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 nicer side of the wood for the top.
This is the underneath side.
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.
Because of the low-grade wood, there was a lot of sanding involved. With nicer wood, this might not be as necessary. (Note to self for next time.)
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.
To attach the three horizontal boards to each end board, we used a biscuit joiner (which is not a cooking tool). (Please see below as there is a different way to do this without the biscuit joiner.)
You do need a biscuit joiner (or sometimes plate joiner) and it is 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 till later.)
Then I gently tapped one of the wood biscuits into each slot.
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 and mark a centerline on both sides of the biscuit and cut the slots on the smaller boards accordingly.
Once the slots are cut, place some wood glue into the empty slot and tap the boards together. Let dry.
In case you aren’t too excited about using a biscuit joiner, you could use metal straps to joint the boards instead. The only thing you need to figure out is 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!
The next step is to attach the frame underneath.
Lay the tabletop 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.
Nest, we added a mitered frame around the outside edge.
I wanted the frame to drop down a bit to that it made the tabletop look even thicker than it was. So we used the 2″ side for the drop.
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 sort of protective coating as well.
When you are done, your table tops should look like this!
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