Dining Table Woodworking Plan

Dining Table Woodworking Plan
Dining Table Woodworking Plan

A compact dining table of striking appearance, this unique design is a composition of great subtlety and balance. The top displays the rustic quality of elm, with its swirling grain pattern and tight knot clusters. The supporting framework is made of straight-grained teak. Clear carnauba wax is the only finish required to bring out the character of the wood.

Dining Table Woodworking Plan


• 4.6m (15ft) of 230 x 25mm (9 x 1 in) hardwood for the top
• 3m (10ft) of 75 x 75mm (3 x 3 in) hardwood for the legs
• 2.1m (7ft) of 75 x 25mm (3 x 1 in) hardwood for the rails
• 4m (13ft) of 50 x 25mm (2 x 1 in) hardwood for the top frame
• Wood glue


The pieces for the tabletop are cut from two elm boards, one of a lighter tone than the other, and laminated together. The legs are tenoned through the tabletop to make a bold geometrical pattern.


Teak may not be readily available, ecologically desirable, nor affordable, in which case you could substitute a different type of wood of contrasting color – dark oak, for example, makes a natural partner for elm. The beauty of the design is derived from the combination of the two species. Even the wedges for the tenons use the same contrast to highlight the effect.



1. The” fishtail” design of the tabletop is not only attractive but also serves to lock the ends of the boards together and keep the top flat. The five components are edge-jointed, using loose tongues made of 6mm (1/4 in) hardwood offcuts (scraps). Cut the three main boards to the sizes shown in the figure above.

2. It is best to laminate the top in two separate stages. First glue and clamp the three long boards together, making sure that the angled ends are aligned correctly. Use two straight-edged battens to clamp the assembly flat on the bench while the glue dries.

3. Make an angled template as an aid to shaping the end sections. Pare down the edges if necessary to accommodate any discrepancy in the assembly. Position the template so that the most suitable and attractive portions of wood will be used to complete the tabletop. Mark out the end pieces and cut them to size.


4. Plane the edges of the end pieces so that they are absolutely square, arid pare them clown carefully to fit the tabletop. When they fit perfectly, rout the 6mm (1/4 in) grooves for the loose tongues. Stop tile grooves short of the ends by 25mm (1 in).

5. Apply glue, insert the hardwood tongues in the grooves and clamp the ends in place. Note how the grooves stop short of tile ends to avoid weakening the corners. Set the top aside for the glue to dry while you work on the table frame and legs. Use weights or cramps to keep it as flat as possible.

6. Make the legs in pairs to suit each end of the table. Clamp each pair together, as shown, arid set out the mortises for the lower rails. The mortises are sized at 68 x 19mm (2.75 x 0.75 in). This is slightly smaller than the rails, leaving a 3mm (1/8 in) shoulder around each tenon.


7. At the outer face of each table leg, angle the sides of the mortise to receive the locking wedges. As the wedges have a decorative aspect, they can be generous in size, adding 6mm (1/4 in) to each end of the mortise.

8. Pare the tenons down to a good fit and dry-assemble the legs, making sure that the shoulders sit squarely. Then set out the mortises for the horizontal stretcher bar in the centres of the rails.

9. The mortises for the stretcher are the same size as those for the rails, allowing a similar amount for the wedges. Good accurate joints are required for this assembly to ensure a rigid base for the table.


10. Assemble the stretcher to the rails and set it aside. Then make the supporting frame for the top. Mark up all the components carefully to avoid confusion at the construction stage – each leg must be fitted individually to the tabletop.

11. The supporting frame is mortised and tenoned together. having three cross rails to span the laminated top and hold it flat. so make absolutely sure that the frame is not twisted. No wedges are used for these smaller tenons – they are simply glued and clamped together.

12. The longitudinal bearers of the frame extend beyond the outer cross rails. to provide full support for the table ends. Cut small bevels on the ends of each bearer to remove the bottom corners. Then glue and clamp the frame together. making sure that it is square.


13. The tenon at the top of each leg measures 50 x 50mm (2 x 2in) in the section. being bare-faced on the inner edge. The shoulders locate under the supporting frame members. Add the thickness of the tabletop to the depth of the frame members to establish the length of the tenons.

14. Centralize the assembled supporting frame on the underside of the tabletop. Attach it with a couple of screws at each corner. then place each leg in turn in its corner of the frame as shown. Mark the positions of the mortises on the top. then remove the frame. marking it first so that you can replace it in the same position.

15. Use a try square to transfer the mortise positions to the upper face of the top and scribe around the edges of the cutouts. Use a spade bit or auger mounted in a drill to remove the bulk of the waste, then pare down the sides so that the tenons are a sliding fit.


16. Clamp each leg upright and cut two small slots in the top of the tenon for the wedges. The slots should be no more than 25mm (1 in) deep – the thickness of the tabletop – to avoid weakening the tenons more than is necessary.

17. Fashion a wedge-shaped section of wood from an offcut of the tabletop material, using a bandsaw or circular saw to achieve a sharp feather edge. Note the grain direction. Using a tenon saw, cut the strip into eight 50mm (2in) wedges.

18. Make 12 smaller wedges to fit the cross rail and stretcher tenons in the same way. Glue each pair of legs and corresponding cross rail, in turn, keeping them flat and free from any twisting. Clamp them so that the assembly is square, insert the small wedges, and tap them in.


19. Stand the two ends upright on a flat surface. Slip the support frame over the tops of the legs to position them correctly. then insert the connecting stretcher between the rails. Place the tabletop over the tenons. square up the legs and tap in the wedges. Leave both sections to dry before proceeding to the next step. Leave the top in position to keep the assembly square while the glue dries, then remove it for the final attachment.

20. Apply glue to the tenons at the tops of the legs, replace the tabletop, and hammer in the wedges, using a small block of wood to protect the ends and keep them straight. Note the direction of the slots in the tenons – this prevents the wedges from applying pressure to the longitudinal grain of the tabletop. When the glue is dry, cut the excess from the wedges and sand the tops of the legs flush with the surface.


Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: