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How To Build Tables

Updated on February 23, 2014

Most homes have many tables serving different purposes, but buying furniture gets expensive and many people cannot afford it.

If you like DIY projects and enjoy woodworking then consider building your own tables.

  1. Understand the purpose you want your table to serve. Will it be used at the end of a couch of for eating dinner?
  2. Learn how to build it. Find out the material and tools you need as well as building instructions. There are books available a well a some excellent videos online.
  3. Get your wood. Decide what kind of wood you want (maple, oak, etc) and buy it.
  4. Get your tools. If you already do a lot of woodworking then you probably have most of the equipment your need. If you don't have the necessary tools then you'll need to make an initial investment to get started.
  5. Start making your table.

The Kitchen

How to Make a Kitchen Table

It's believed that the Egyptians invented the first kitchen table which consisted of several planks used for the sole purpose of keeping food off the floor.

In the middle ages tables served the duel purpose of providing a surface on which food was prepared and then while the family ate in the great hall, servants would gather around the kitchen table to eat their supper.

During the 1700-1800s because many cottages were often one room and quite small, these tables were used to prepare food, to eat meals, for children to do their homework and for the family get together after dinner. They became the mainstay of early American pioneer families.

Since these tables were made more often than not by the same families that used them, the wood for these tables was usually whatever wood was available on the land the families occupied. Pine, maple, oak, ash and cherry are just some of the woods used in these wonderful creations.

Older tables had simple lines, sturdy legs and were usually rectangle, though a few were round. Larger families usually used bench tables which somewhat resemble a picnic table with free standing benches. Others were smaller with two or four chairs.

Due to the lack of storage space in most early homes, many tables had drawers where cutlery and even drinking cups were stored. Others had leaves that hung down the sides of the tables and were extended for meals.

In the larger homes, there was usually a kitchen and a dining room table. The dining room table was reserved for company and the family normally took their meals at the kitchen table just like their less well to do neighbors and friends.

In some homes, kitchens actually supported two tables. The standard table used for eating and a smaller table known as a work table. Work tables were usually made of extremely thick pieces of wood and were used for chopping meats and vegetables so as not to mar the surface of the eating table. However, most kitchens were not large enough to sport two tables, so a cutting board was often used to protect the tables surface.

How to Build a Harvest Table

The harvest table has a European country look to it and makes it easy to see how sharing food around a table was such a staple of everyday life. Many people buy harvest tables in an effort to recreate the look of a kitchen table.

French harvest tables often have one or two drawers on the longer sides. This made them double easily as office desks. The straight legs on this type of table stand separately, rather than being beveled or being part of a trestle. Even though this table was more commonly used for writing and other types of home paperwork, it has inspired a resurgence in interest that has made it once again popular in modern homes.

If you would like to give your home the look and feel of the antique French country style, then a harvest table would be a great place to start.

Building Other Types of Tables

How To Build a Coffee Table

Coffee tables are long, low tables intended to be positioned in front of a couch in order to support beverages, books, magazines, or even eating dinner. These tables are often found in the lounge or family room.

The inspiration of a table exclusively for serving tea or coffee can be traced back to Europe. Around 1750. The tables during this time were high and round placed next to a chair or in front of a group. The tea service is placed on top and served up to guests or family members.

This eventually evolved into tea trolleys and finally into rectangular center tables we often see in modern living rooms. The first wooden table was designed by E.W. Godwin in the year 1868. Designs for this table were varied and became popular only during the twentieth century.

How To Build a Trestle Table

Trestle tables are very easy to recognize by their simple, functional and practical design. A trestle table actually uses at least two trestles vertically to support a horizontal piece as the top. The result of this construction makes the table take on the shape of a t, although a v-shape is possible when using legs that resemble sawhorses.

Another great thing about trestle tables is that they could be made of any size simply by adding more horizontal and vertical pieces. These tables are relatively easy and inexpensive to make. These tables while being simple can be very ornate depending on the builders creativity.

How To Build a Console Table

Wall or console tables are the small tables set to a wall or are designed to be placed aligned to a wall. They are usually positioned under a sizeable wall mirror and have a bowed top and ornately designed legs.

The original tables of this kind were mostly small and shaped like a half-moon fixed to a wall using a console, an s-shaped bracket. In France, these tables are also known as "pier tables" since they were mounted on the pier wall amid two big windows. They were basically for decorative purposes until modified and crafted with four legs and where adapted to be situated alongside the walls in hallways or pushed against the back part of a big sofa.

In the later part of the 1800s, the European wall tables were replaced by the "mission" style furniture designed by Joseph McHugh. The tables had straight and rustic designs that were replicas of the chair backs of a house of worship in San Francisco which were, in turn, copied from models in a Spanish mission.

How To Build a Bedside Table

Nightstands, also called bedside tables or night tables, are small cabinets or tables intended to be placed alongside the bed or anywhere in the bedroom. It may hold night lamps, alarm clocks, books, medications, mobile phones or function as coffee tables during nighttime.

Prior to the construction of indoor comfort rooms, the chief purpose of the night table was to hold the chamber pot. This is the reason why earlier versions of the nightstands were small cabinets with enclosed storage rack and sometimes with built-in drawers.

Two of the most popular designs for bedside tables (real or replica) in the U.S. are French Country bedside tables and Asian / Japanese bedside tables.

Making Pedestal Tables

Pedestal tables are a must have for if you need a strong piece of furniture for lamps or decorations. They can also be used for eating on.

There are many styles and options to take into consideration when purchasing a pedestal table. The pedestal table can be the highlight of the room, and a piece of furniture that can be used for years.

If you feel that your area is short of space, there are pedestal tables available with drawers built into the table top. This is an extremely practical and stylish way of storing things in your dining room

How to Build a Claw Foot

Many claw foot tables feature detailed carvings on the sides and legs, which makes them the perfect addition to any living room décor. The intricate carvings in the wood provide touch and style to stand the test of time.

Claw foot tables have a claw design at the bottom of the leg, which makes them completely unique to any other table design. They come in a variety of sizes, with various wood finishes, any of which would draw attention to whichever room they were situated in within your home.

Making Drop Leaf Tables

Drop leaf tables. also known as gateleg tables, have been used in America since the late 1600s. The gate-leg table was one of the earliest types and was common from 1690 to 1725.

Drop leaf tables are a type of table whose sides drop with clawfoot style legs. The sides are attached to the legs and the legs are hinged to the table from below. When the leaves are raised, the legs swing out like a gate. Often these tables also have one drawer in the front.

People love these because they are large enough to be used as a dinner table, yet can be quickly stored away when not needed or not in use.

In approximately 1710, an American innovation was devised by the name of the butterfly table. These were generally smaller than gate-leg tables, but they were named due to their wing-shaped leaf supports that pivot out from the stretchers.

How To Make Nesting Tables

The most popular period for nesting tables is around the turn of the 20th century to about the 1950's. Most nesting tables come in a set of three with the smaller tables each fitting under the next size up. Because nesting tables are designed with the smaller tables nesting under the larger ones they are meant to take up less space and can be easily stored out of the way while still being displayed for pleasure or for sale.


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