Home Projects Furniture How To Build a Wood and Metal Dining Table

How To Build a Wood and Metal Dining Table

DIY Metal and Wood Dining Table

Have you been planning to build a slick wood and metal dining table?  Maybe one with a welded base and a custom wooden top? Yeah, me too. This project has been on my list for years and it’s finally done.  

I designed this dining table to have a modern welded base and a custom white oak top.  The table top is seven feet long and four feet wide. This was a fun project to make and I can’t wait to show you how everything came together.  

Come along for the ride and I’ll show you how I turned some metal pieces and rough lumber into a thing of beauty… if I do say so myself.

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Here is what you’ll need for the project:

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How to build and wood and metal dining table

  1. Pick lumber and start initial milling
  2. Finish milling of lumber
  3. Glue up top and fill in holes
  4. Cut metal parts for base
  5. Weld table base
  6. Finish and mount table top

1. Pick Lumber and Start Initial Milling

I built this dining table using white oak boards I got from my buddy Matt from Rustic River Creations.  Matt makes custom tables and furniture south of Nashville and has an impressive shop. He hooked me up with some sweet boards, but they needed to be milled up.  

Even though we picked some of the straighter boards, we’re still dealing with rough lumber and these suckers were 9 feet long and 1-½” thick.  So Matt, being the stand up guy he is, graciously offered to help me mill the boards to get a flat face and one straight edge.

We cut the boards to rough length and then ran them through his ridiculously large 16” jointer for face and edge jointing.  This got the boards flat on one side and one edge.  

Honestly I don’t think I could have managed lumber this size in my current shop setup.  So if you don’t have a friend like Matt you can look for lumber yards that sell both rough and milled lumber.  What we ended up with would be called S1S1E which means Surfaced 1 Side and 1 Edge. This will let me finish it off in my shop to my exact dimensions.

2. Finish Milling of Lumber

Once I got the boards back to my shop I let them sit for about a week to acclimate.  Then I ripped each board down to their final width. I determined how wide I wanted them to be based on the overall width I wanted for the table top, which was 40 inches.    

Next I laid out all of the boards I’ll be using for the table top and clamped them together.  This shows me where I have spots with gaps between the boards. Then I marked those spots with a pencil, folded the boards together like a book and ran them through my jointer together.  This will eliminate any gaps caused by a slightly out of square setup on your jointer.

I went through and folded up each set of mating boards that had gaps and ran them through the jointer until everything fit tightly.  After that I laid the wood back down just how the top would be attached and put a big V across all the boards as a reference mark to keep them in order.  Next I went through and made marks across the joints about 20 inches apart for biscuits that I’ll use for alignment during the glue up.

I cut slots in all the boards for the biscuits and then did one final dry fit to make sure everything was good before glue up.  The last thing you want here is to run into an issue when you’re 3 minutes deep into assembly with glue drying while you panic…believe me, I’ve been there.

3. Glue Up Top and Fill In Holes

With all the prep work and dry fittings done, the glue up should go smoothly since you know how all the boards fit together.  I glued one board at a time putting the biscuits in for registration and lining the boards up with the marks I’d made earlier.

I used a mallet to level out a few spots that had crept up and then put a few more clamps on the top.  After 45 minutes I came back and scraped the partially dried glue beads off the top.  It makes final flattening a bit easier, plus it’s super satisfying.

The next day I came back and cleared out any of the knot holes in the table top and gave it a rough sanding to 80 grit in a few spots.  I marked all the spots that needed filling with blue tape then mixed up some epoxy.

To fill the holes I used Total Boat epoxy and instead of leaving it clear I add some mixol black tint. I think the black accents the knots without being too gaudy.

4. Cut Metal Parts for Base

The table will have a metal base at each end made from 1×3 rectangular tube steel.  Each base is a T shape on the floor with vertical supports going up to a top plate.

I started off by cutting the six vertical leg parts to rough size so I could manage the steel more easily.

Each upright is square at the top and will be joined to the lower T-shape with a 45 degree miter.  I set the fence using a carpenter’s square, which I think is illegal when metalworking, but don’t tell anybody.

I finished up cutting all the miters on the legs then switched to the lower T pieces.  The longer top portion of the T has miters at both ends to match up with the legs.

I finished up by cutting all the legs to final size.  A scrap block clamped down to the bench gave a stop to make repeatable cuts.  Since I’ll have six legs to deal with the chances are pretty high it can get out of whack, so starting with exact size pieces at least gives me a fighting chance.

Next I went outside and ground down all the parts where they would be welded to give me a good base for the filler material to go.

5. Weld Table Base

I started welding the base by using my Lincoln 210MP Welder attaching the upright legs to the lower piece that had two miters.

I tacked those pieces in place and then marked and cut a top plate from ¼” flat bar stock.  The top plate will extend a few inches past the legs on each side for extra support for the top.

Next I turned the assembly upside down on top of the flat bar and pried it back into square using a spreader clamp.  The heat from the welds will tend to move the metal so checking everything for square before welding is crucial.

After tacking the plate in place I went around and finished all the welds on this square assembly.

Then I clamped and welded together the third leg to the small base piece.  From there I butted this assembly against the square I’d already made to form the T-shape.

And the last piece of the puzzle was to flip the whole thing over and add another top plate to lock everything together and then repeat the whole process for the second base.

6. Finish and Mount Table Top

I went back to the table top and I knocked off the majority of the epoxy with a block plane then finished smoothing off the surface with 80 grit sandpaper.

We left the boards about six inches long when we milled them.  So I measured in 3” from each side, set my track saw square at 90 degrees to the long edge and cut the table to size.

Next I drilled mounting holes in the top of the bases at the ends and the intersection of the T.  I used a step bit and drilled them a bit oversized to allow for wood movement.

Then I hoofed the base up on top of the table (which was bottom side up) to mark through each hole for the inserts.  

After that I could take the bases outside and prime and paint them with a matte black finish.

While the paint was drying I finishing up the top by adding a chamfer on all the edges of the table. 

Then I decided to apply finish to the bottom before doing the inserts.  I used rubio pure as my finish and I really love how it turned out. 

Finally I used a center punch where I’d made the pencil marks for the inserts.  I drilled out the holes for the inserts and installed them with an impact driver.

Then we flipped the table over again and I finished the top with the rubio pure.  I made sure to spread the finish on first so it’s not pooled anywhere and I went back over it with a sander and white pad to buff things in. 

And that’s how I build my metal and wood dining table!  If you liked this project you should check out my other Furniture Projects.

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