DIY Retrofitted Dining Table Top
Remember back a few months ago when I found this dining table for $100 on a Facebook buy/sell/trade group?
Well, it didn’t look like this when we got it actually.
It desperately needed a paint job, and I was dead set to sand down the top to reveal some gorgeous wood grain that just HAD to be hiding underneath the worn yellowing paint. Except…
…it wasn’t good wood. It was really ugly MDF that gouged easily and didn’t clean up well. A total “womp womp” of a surprise. But I figured I’d already gotten into this mess; I might as well finish it the best I could and deal with it later on when we could tackle Plan B.
So, hi! Welcome to Plan B. (By the way, don’t you love it when Plan B works out SOOOO much better than you could have imagined for Plan A? Because that’s what happened.)
Robert and I were looking around at table building plans on Ana White for a solution to somehow take apart the table and remake it when it hit me that we could just build a retrofitted table top with a lip to fit it right over the existing table top. No need to take apart the old table or damage it in any way.
(This would be totally doable for coffee tables, end tables, nightstands, dresser tops, whatever surface you find needs some gorgeous real wood grain.)
Here’s the plan we came up with:
This is the table top upside-down.
Supplies Used: (Of course, you will likely have to adjust the widths and number of wood planks to work with the size of your existing table, but this is what fit our table’s measurements.)
- 8 – 1″x6″x6′ boards – We used red oak, but you could use whatever type of wood you prefer.
- 2 – 1″x8″x6′ boards
- 2 – 1″x1″x6′ boards
- 2 – 1″x1″x8′ boards
- Miter saw
- Nail gun with 1 1/4″ finishing nails
- Kreg Jig
- 1 1/2″ Kreg Jig wood screws
- Power drill
- Palm sander
- 220 grit, 120 grit, 180 grit, and 80 grit sandpaper pads
- Tape measure
- Hand clamps
- 2-3 bar clamps
- Minwax Stainable Wood Filler
- Putty knife
- Clean, dry rags
- Stain brush
- Large foam brush
- Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner
- Minwax Dark Walnut (That’s just the color we chose. There are more color options depicted lower in the post, if you want more ideas.)
- Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane in Clear Satin (You can choose whatever sheen you like though.)
(Note: We started out planning to use 1″x2″ boards for the lip, but later changed our plan to 1″x1″ boards, in case you’re wondering why 1″x2″ boards are just hanging out in this first photo. You could really use either one, depending on how thick your table’s original top is. )
1. Start out by lining up your 1″x6″ boards.
2. Lay your 1″x8″ boards on each end of the 1″x6″ boards and mark the edges with a carpenter pencil.
3. Cut the 1″x6″ boards on the line you just marked with your saw to make sure they are the exact length you need to line up with the 1″x8″ boards on the ends.
4. Measure and mark the width of the 1″x6″ boards lined up to cut the 1″x8″ boards to the size you need with your saw.
5. Once all boards are cut to the necessary length and width for the template of your table top, line the boards back up and start marking with a pencil where you’ll need to drill pocket holes.
6. Then, start drilling pocket holes using a Kreg Jig so that they will attach the 1″x8″ boards to each 1″x6″ board. Drill pocket holes on the 1″x6″ boards so they can be screwed into each other as well.
7. Use bar clamps to press your 1″x6″ boards together and start drilling 1 1/2″ Kreg Jig wood screws into the holes to start connecting the boards.
8. As you screw 1″x6″ boards together, connect one end to the perpendicular 1″x8″ board using more Kreg Jig screws. Use a hand clamp as you screw.
9. Once the 1″x6″ board and 1″x8″ top is fully connected and finished, start on the lip by measuring and marking your 1″x1″ board to the width and length of your table top.
10. Use a miter saw to cut the boards at an angle to create corners.
11. Then attach the 1″x1″ boards around the perimeter of the flat table top using a nail gun with 1 1/4″ finishing nails. Line them up as flush to the 1″x6″ boards and 1″x8″ boards as you can.
Bam! That table top is built!
12. To start making it pretty, flip the table top over so the pocket holes are facing down.
13. If you end up with some small gaps, use a putty knife to press some Minwax Stainable Wood Filler into the gap to close it up. Let dry.
14. When the wood filler as fully dried, start getting the wood as smooth as possible by going over it with the palm sander. Start with an 80 grit sanding pad, then a 120 grit, a 180 grit, and finally a 220 grit to make that wood smooth as butt-ah. Sand down the dried wood filler so that it’s completely smooth too.
15. Brush off (or remove with a tack cloth) any residual sanding dust from the wood and apply a coat of Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner so that the wood will take the stain in the next step evenly.
16. Let the wood conditioner soak in for at least 5 minutes but no longer than 30 before you start applying stain. Wipe of any excess conditioner with a dry rag just before staining.
Before we built our table top, Robert and I had to decide what sort of wood we needed to use, so we tested out 8 Minwax stain colors on 3 different species of wood to help us choose. This dining table will get a lot of use over the years, and we weren’t about to go through the process of building this top without doing it thoroughly.
Of course, we went with the more expensive red oak because we absolutely loved the look of the grain. And with it being a hard wood, we know it will stand the test of time for many many years.
But if you need help deciding on a stain color for any of your wood projects, here were the results from our little test.
Notice how splotchy the stain on that pine board is? I’d definitely use wood conditioner for anything pine that you plan to stain. I didn’t apply it on this piece since it was just a sample, but you can definitely tell.
We almost declared poplar the winner because it seemed like a nice option that still wasn’t too pricey.
We just couldn’t get over this gorgeous red oak grain, and we splurged. (When the table itself only costs $100 though, you can do that, right?)
We decided Dark Walnut was our winner since I just love the contrast of a dark wood table top with a white table base.
So to finish the steps…
17. Apply a coat of the Minwax Wood Finish Penetrating Stain following the directions on the back of the can. We only applied one coat, but you could do two or three, if you wanted it darker. (For some of the lighter stain colors in the past, I’ve applied two to three coats.)
18. We let the stain dry for 24 hours and then, using a foam brush, we applied the Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane. I prefer to use a foam brush because it eliminates bubbles in the final finish. Add 2-3 coats to protect the table top from wear, especially from condensation on drink glasses and food spills.
Robert and I hauled this baby right in and set it right down on top of our existing table. It fit like a glove! Maybe we should just put green felt down on the original table top and make it a poker table to hide underneath our fancy dining top. (Kidding… or am I? Maybe I should learn to play first. Ha!)
I absolutely love how this dining room feels so much warmer and cozier with this pretty wood grain front and center.
And the satin finish gives it just enough of a sheen to make it catch your eye as soon as you walk in.
This room is starting to feel more and more complete now with this table finished and the mirror gallery wall complete and fresh paint on the walls.
We still have to swap out the chandelier. Two of the glass beads fell off the other day and were beyond repair, so that’s just a sign to me that it’s about to bite the dust. It’s a remnant from the former owners of this house.
Okay, I swear I’m done taking pictures of this table. I just can’t stop looking at it.
Now, I’m wondering if there are any other tables in our house that could use the retrofitted top treatment. Maybe we could even build a coffee table top with a checker/chess board painted on the underside that we could flip over to play on whenever we wanted. How legit would that be?! I need to find more furniture. 😉
So. many. possibilities.
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