SPRING ONE ROOM CHALLENGE, WEEK TWO: DIY FLUTED DINING TABLE
This post sure has been a long time coming! Week Two of the One Room Challenge has arrived and I figured I’d finally share how we built our fluted dining table. As I mentioned last week, our home is open concept, so everything is getting a bit of a once-over to go along with the kitchen renovation. The dining area is more or less finished, minus some drywall work on the archways we installed that I’m saving for last. I also have to touch up the drywall on the ceiling around the chandelier. Although I really loved the medallion, it didn’t really go with the style of our home, so we removed it the other day. We put it up initially to give a little architectural detail and break up the huge expanse of white ceiling a bit. However, with the keyhole archway that divides the space now, it no longer seemed necessary.
Other things I still have to do: figure out what I’m doing for artwork where the credenza and mirror used to be; paint the planter I made for my Bird of Paradise; and lay out the new rug I just received from Winnoby the other day. Anyway, I’m super excited to finally share this DIY with you, but let me preface it by saying it’s not a quick and easy DIY by any means. There is some geometry and woodworking skill involved. If that doesn’t scare you off though, let’s get to it!
First things first, gather your materials and tools!
1 piece of 3/4″ thick 4 x 8’ maple plywood
Roll of masking tape
20′ roll of 1″ maple edge banding
1 piece of 12′ long 2 x 4″ fir lumber
12 pieces of 6′ long 1 x 5″ maple lumber OR 35 pieces of 8′ half round
Pencil, thumbtack, and thick string OR a compass
Table saw or circular saw with straight edge clamp
Router (if you choose to route the half rounds yourself)
1/2” radius half round router bit
Utility knife with extra razor blades
220 grit sanding block
Construction adhesive and caulk gun
Measure + Cut:
To determine the size of the top, I first decided the overall length and width. Since I wanted it to be pill shaped, I knew that each end would essentially be a half of a circle with a square in the middle. However, since I wanted it to be under six feet long and at least 40 inches wide, the middle ended up being a 32 x 40 inch rectangle. Once I figured that out, I halved the width of the table to figure out the radius of the circles on the ends. Since the table is 40 inches wide, the radius of each circle is 20 inches.
After figuring out the measurements and cutting the plywood with a table saw into a 72 x 40 inch piece (you could also use a circular saw and this clamp to ensure a straight cut), I found the center point of it and measured out 16 inches to either end of the center point to determine the middle of each circle. Before drawing my line, I wrapped each end of the wood in masking tape so that it would be less likely to splinter when cut.
I then made a compass with a thumbtack, string, and pencil. I put the thumbtack in the center point of the first circle, measured 20 inches of string, since I’d determined the radius to be 20 inches. I stretched the string out to its fullest extent with the pencil tied to the end of it and then made my half circle. If you get the radius right at 20 inches the line should meet up perfectly with either side of the 40 inch piece. You could also buy a compass and set it at 20 inches, which would probably be more accurate, but I decided to just work with what I had on hand.
Once the half circles were drawn on either end of the plywood, my husband used a jigsaw to cut along the lines I’d drawn to make the final shape. I then started working on the size of the base.
Determine the Size of the Base:
The area of the base should be no less than 1/3 the area of the top for a round table to ensure it doesn’t tip over, which is partially why I figured the dimensions of the top by determining the radius of the half circles on the ends. We determined the size of the base by finding the area of each half circle as well as the area of the rectangle in the middle and then determining 1/3 of their combined area. To find the area of the top of the table, you use the following formulas for a circle and rectangle:
I’m including how I determined all of the measurements for the sake of those of you out there who want your table to be circular or a slightly smaller/larger pill. If this is you, read on! However, if you’re going to build the table with the exact measurements I used, you don’t need any of the info in the next three paragraphs, so feel free to skip over it.
For the circle, pi (3.14) multiplied by the radius (20”) squared gives us an area of 1256.6 square inches. Since the two ends essentially make up one whole circle, we can add the area of just one circle to the area of the rectangle in the middle, which can be found by multiplying the length (32”) by the width (40”), which equals 1280 square inches.
So for the base, I rounded up the area of the circle (1257 sq.in.) and divided by 3, which is 419 square inches. I then searched “area of a circle” and used Google’s online tool that will find the radius for you if you already have the area. I don’t mind a little geometry, but figuring the radius from the area was a little more than I’d bargained for and I wanted to make sure I got it right. After inputting the area online, I was given a radius of 11.55 inches for the base, which I rounded down to 11.5 inches. I knew that adding the dowels would increase the area of the base, so I didn’t worry about changing the numbers a bit to make them easier to work with.
I then divided the area of the rectangle (1280 sq.in.) by 3 to find 1/3 of it, which is 426.7 square inches (427 sq.in. rounded up). To find the length, I divided the area by the width, which is double the radius of the circle (23”), giving me a length of 18.5 inches (19″ rounded up). So since the base has to be a minimum of 1/3 of the size of the top to prevent tipping, the minimum area the base of the table could be (419″ + 427″) was 846 square inches. How’s that for all those hours of high school geometry actually paying off?
Build the Base:
Now that you know all of your measurements, you can build the base of the table. We used OSB because that’s what we had on hand. If you want a cleaner look, I’d recommend using plywood, but it really doesn’t matter either way IMHO because you’ll never see it. Totally up to you though!
I created the outline for the base the exact same way I did for the top, but with the smaller measurements. Since we knew the length and width of the base, I drew it as a 23 x 42 inch rectangle on OSB and Derek cut it out with the table saw. I found the center point and measured out 9.5 inches to either end of the center point to determine the middle of each circle. I double checked to make sure I was centered in the middle of the circle by also making sure I was at the halfway point of the width of the rectangular piece of OSB as well.
I then made a compass again with a thumbtack, string, and pencil. I put the thumbtack in the center point of the first circle, measured 11.5 inches of string, since I’d determined the radius to be 11.5 inches. I stretched the string out to its fullest extent with the pencil tied to the end of it and then made my half circle. If you get the radius right at 11.5 inches, the line should meet up perfectly with either side of the 23 inch piece.
Once the half circles were drawn at each end, Derek cut along the line using a jigsaw just like he did with the top. Since the base is constructed of two pill shaped pieces with 2 x 4 inch pieces of wood attached in the middle, he then took the piece he’d just cut, lined it up with the second 23 x 42 inch piece of OSB and traced it so he could cut a second piece of the exact same size.
Now that you have the shape of the base cut out, you’ll need to use a chop saw to cut the 12 foot long 2 x 4 inch board into four pieces, with each one measuring 26 inches long. Next you’re going to use your clamps and some construction adhesive to glue two of the pieces together and then the other two to make two legs. Don’t use too much adhesive because it seeps out of the seams when you get your clamps on and you don’t want to have to wipe off too much excess.
Once the pieces are dry, remove the clamps and screw the end of each leg into the center points of the circles on your first base piece. It doesn’t have to be exact, so don’t stress if it’s not perfect. Then turn it over so the base piece is on the floor and the legs are sticking up and put the other piece you cut on top. Take your level and hold it against the side of the base in several places before you put the screws through the top into the legs to ensure everything lines up well. As you can see from this picture, we cut up some extra butcher block we had and glued it to the bottom of the base to add some weight, but it’s up to you if you want to do the same. We did it just to be extra safe in case the kids climb on the table.
Route (OR BUY) the Half Round Pieces:
First, Derek cut the 10 foot long maple boards into 28 inch pieces and then used the table saw to turn them into 1 x 1 inch square dowels. Then he used this router bit to cut each one into a half round. However, hindsight being what it is, he figured after the fact that routing the edge of the 28 inch pieces and then using the table saw to cut it off at an inch for each one would probably work out better. It would take longer, but would prevent the pieces from getting sucked into the router, which Derek said was a problem.
OR you could just go buy 35 pieces of 8 foot half round and cut each one into three 28 inch pieces. For those of you who don’t have a router, this is the cheaper, faster, and easier way to go. We chose to make the pieces ourselves because we already had a router, so it ended up being less expensive that way. We also wanted to use maple for its durability and to match the top. However, it’s worth mentioning that if you do get half rounds from the local hardware or craft store, they’ll likely be made from pine or fur and may not hold up as well as a hard wood.
I actually ended up having to sand all 104 half rounds with the orbital palm sander because of the issue I mentioned before with the 1 x 1 inch pieces getting sucked into the router and therefore not being perfectly shaped. I can’t say for sure that you wouldn’t have to do some sanding with doing it the other way, so plan for that step in case. If you use half rounds from the store, I’d use a 220 grit sanding block and lightly sand over each one to make sure they’re extra smooth.
Attach the Half Rounds:
Okay, now it’s about to get real! I was so stoked over this part because I was finally able to see what the table base was going look like when I was all finished. Before attaching the half rounds, I wrapped the base in canvas and stapled it to the top and bottom edges because I assumed it would help to disguise any cracks between the half rounds, but it’s totally optional. In fact, I think I’d skip this step if I were to do it over again.
Once I was finished with that, I started attaching the half rounds to the base with 1.5 inch brad nails. I found that tipping the base on its side made it a lot easier. In fact, I left the base upright when I first started and realized after awhile that I had, in fact, nailed it to the floor in the living room in several spots! So I definitely recommend tipping it over! I pushed a level up against the pieces every so often to ensure they lined up perfectly on the bottom of the base, which is the part that you’ll see when the table is complete. The line of the dowels, which inevitably vary slightly in length, doesn’t matter as much on the top of the base because the tabletop hides them.
After you get the half rounds attached, fill all of the holes from the brad nails with natural colored wood filler. I used this one, which can be wiped off instead of sanded. I also filled the cracks from where some of the dowels split when I nailed them on.
Attach the Tabletop:
Now that the base is all finished, you can attach the top! Since you’re using construction adhesive, I’d recommend doing a trial run and enlisting someone to help you. We put the top on first and then used a tape measure to measure the distance from the base to the edge of the table on both sides and ends to make sure it was perfectly centered. Then I lifted it slightly, making sure it didn’t slide around at all, while Derek liberally applied construction adhesive to the center of the top of the base. Be careful not to apply too much close to the edges or it will seep out on your dowels.
Then I lowered the top back onto the base and we quickly remeasured to make sure the it hadn’t moved before putting a bunch of weight on it. I would’ve preferred to screw the top into the base, but since I attached the half rounds first, it wasn’t possible. You definitely could screw the top on from the underside of the top of the base. However, I think it would make it too difficult to attach the half rounds with the nail gun, which is why I didn’t do it that way.
Apply the Edge Banding:
Applying the edge banding to give the top a finished look is actually really simple. I rested the tabletop on the base before attaching the half rounds to do so, but if I were to do it over again I’d wait and put the edge banding on last. Since I used 3/4 inch maple plywood, I got 1 inch maple edge banding to hide the exposed edges of the plywood where it was cut. Before ironing it on, I unraveled the edge banding and loosely taped it every few feet or so all the way around the edge of the table and then cut the piece off the roll at least five inches or so long just to make it easier to work with.
Then I started with one end and ironed it all the way around, taking care to line up the top edge of the edge banding with the top edge of the table so I only had to trim excess banding from the bottom side. It’s important that you use a small block of wood or even the backside of your knife to go back over the banding and really press it to the edge of the table, rubbing it firmly, to ensure it sticks as you go along. Once I’d ironed all the way around, I carefully lined up the edge banding with the start of the piece, trimmed off the excess with scissors, and ironed it down.
Then I went around the bottom of the table and trimmed the excess banding off with the razor blade. They do make edge banding trimmers, but I wouldn’t recommend wasting the money. They don’t really work. If the edge banding hasn’t adhered well it becomes more noticeable after trimming. Since mine hadn’t in a few spots, I went back over with the iron again and really rubbed against the spots with the wood piece until I couldn’t see a gap anymore. Lastly, you’ll want to take your 220 grit sanding block and lightly sand around the seams to really make it blend. You can go over the top and sides as well to get it ready to seal as long as you make sure to wipe it all down really well with a lint free cloth (I used a microfiber one) to remove the dust.
Seal It + Admire Your Handiwork:
Lastly, you’ll want to seal the whole table to protect the wood. I used Polycrylic in a matte finish and followed the directions on the can. Sealing the tabletop can be a pain because large flat surfaces tend to want to dry with streak marks. I found that applying it as quickly as I could and dragging the brush all the way from one end of the table to the other for each stroke helped a little.
That’s it! If you’ve made it this far, you must REALLY want to build this beauty for yourself! I’ll admit, I found this post a bit hard to read and even harder to write. It was surprisingly way more difficult to explain how we built the table than what I’d initially thought it would be! If you have any questions at all though, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or DM me on Instagram!
Make sure to check out what the other One Room Challenge participants are up to this week!