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DIY Rustic Counter Height Table Plan

We searched and looked for tables since we moved into our house in September, but simply couldn’t find any that we like.  Oh, and they were all over $1,000.  We just didn’t want to pay that.  If you have some time and a few tools, you can build a Pottery Barn-like table like ours for only $150.  Don’t think so?  Read on – anyone can do it…

After getting a Kreg Jig for Christmas (I strongly recommend you buy one if you want to do any woodworking), I decided to try to make our own table.

Of course, I wanted to take photos and document the process so I could attempt to provide others with a way to build your own DIY counter height kitchen table.

I based this plan off of one of my favorite sites at Ana-White.com, where you can always find neat things to do.  The looks are similar, but I was able to make it a little cheaper and add our own touch to it.

Let’s get going on the table.  To start, here are the basics.  Despite looking complex, it’s actually a pretty simple project.  Keep in mind that although I’m fairly new at creating handmade furniture, I have helped my Dad renovate before, and have “handy-ness” in my blood :).  

Here are the basics of the DIY Rustic Counter Height Table Plan:

I’ve stated pretty clearly here on this site that we are attempting most of our projects for the first time.  Inevitably, we run into problems each and every time, and expect that.  Our goal is to remember them so we can tell others to NOT do what we did – someone might as well learn from our mistakes :).  So…

What NOT to do:

Do NOT use pretreated lumber!  All these photos have pretreated 4×4′s, but you can NOT use this for anything indoor.  I had everything done and completed, then started questioning why I got pretreated lumber (hint: I didn’t do my research until it was too late).  Fortunately the wood guy at Lowe’s let me know my mistake could be harmful – especially for our dog, Duke.  Unfortunately, I didn’t figure this out until the entire table was put together (but before painting).

 

Enough about what NOT to do – on to the plan…

Dimensions:

  • Length:  53″
  • Width:  40″
  • Height:  42″

Wood, Tools, and Supplies Needed

 Wood:  I used a Douglas Fir for our table.  It’s a cheaper wood that’s a bit lighter (the table is still heavy), and great for a first-time project.  NOTE:  This is what I bought, knowing that I might need some extra, just in case.  If you are confident in your cuts, you can get less wood.  Just go down to the proceeding steps to figure out what cuts you have to have and simply do the math.

  • 2×6′s:  4 8-footers
  • 2×4′s:  2 8-footers
  • 4×4′s:  2 8-footers
  • 2×3′s:  2 8-footers
Tools:

  • Kreg Jig – this is a MUST for this particular project.  If you don’t have one, you need one.
  • Kreg Jig screws
  • Circular saw
  • Hand saw
  • Sander (or sandpaper if you are ambitious and sanding by hand)
Other Supplies:

  • Red oak stain
  • Black Rustoleum paint (not the spray paint)
  • Polyeurethane
  • Wood glue
  • Cardboard

On to the steps…

 

 

Step 1:  Make your cuts

It’ll be much easier to just focus on making all your cuts, then putting everything together.  Note that this is a very important part as well.  If you have a chop saw/compound miter saw, or a table saw, you will be much more accurate.  Unfortunately, I do not yet have either, so I just used a circular saw (and a hand saw to finish the 4×4 legs).

Here are the cuts you will need for the dimensions specified above:

  • 2×6′s:  6 boards, 46 1/4″ each – for the tabletop
  • 2×4′s:
    • 2 boards, 53 1/4″ each – for the outside of the tabletop, long side
    • 2 boards, 33″ each – for the outside of the tabletop, short side
  • 4×4′s:  4 boards, 40″ each – for the legs
  • 2×3′s:
    • 4 boards, 40 3/4″ each – for the supports and bracing
    • 4 boards, 27 1/4″ each – for the supports and bracing

 

Step 2:  Drill your connector holes with your Kreg Jig

Obviously you’ll need some Kreg Jig knowledge here, but their site is great for that.  I’ll assume you know how to use your Kreg Jig.  Try following these steps:

  • Drill 2-3 holes in each 2×6 to make your table top.  You’ll be attaching one into the other here, parallel to each other.
  • Drill evenly spaced holes into your 2×4′s – they will surround the 2×6 table top and provide some extra support
  • Drill your 2×3″ supports if you are able to envision it.  If not, wait – it should come to you later

 

Step 3:  Build the table top

Early on in the process, you can see your project come together.  Building the table top is an essential part.  Lay all the 2×6′s side by side and make sure you have drilled the appropriate Kreg holes.  Then attach them with your Kreg screws.

Once you’ve attached all the 2×6′s, use your 2×4′s to surround them.  Connect them with your Kreg screws.  Flip the table over, and that is your table top!

 

Step 4:  Add in supports and bracing

I found it easiest to add in the supports first, because you will then have a piece of wood to attach to the legs.  In this picture, you can see the spacing.  I just eyeballed it to give it the best support.  I would lay down all the wood to help you envision it.  If you haven’t yet, drill holes in the supports and bracing pieces and attach them to the table top (make sure you are attaching them to the underside of the table top – the side WITH the Kreg holes/screws).  See photo below for a better understanding.

Step 5:  Attach the legs and leg supports

After the table top is built, it’s time to attach the 4×4 legs.  It’s actually pretty easy because of the supports and bracing you added in the previous step.  Simply place the 4×4 leg onto the table top, nestled into the two supports, and screw your Kreg screws into the leg.  As with every Kreg joint, use two screws, then move to the next leg.

Supports:  I added in supports to the table, but – I did have to remove them to take them into the house.  This table is much to wide to fit through a regular 36-40″ wide door, so unless you have a bigger door, you might take liberty with the supports or add them in differently – I am contemplating an “I” form after seeing a couple other tables.

 

Step 6:  Sand

Pretty simple, and pretty boring.  I have an orbital sander.  Just sand over the table until it’s as smooth as you want. It’s ok if it’s not smooth – ours wasn’t.  I would just make sure to sand down anything that might splinter and call it a day.

Step 7:  Stain

Time to get some color going.  Grab the Red Oak stain, a rag or sponge, and start staining the entire table.  I like to move fast with stain to prevent the time I have to spend around the pungent scent – I would also open up your garage door if you can.  Run the stain over the entire table – if you miss a couple spots here and there, it’s ok – we can cover it up with black paint in the next step.

After I stain, I usually take a clean, dry rag and go over it again to remove some excess stain and speed up the drying process.  Most of my projects are done in one or two days, so I try to be as efficient as possible.  You have probably seen fans in some of my photos – I also use that to help it dry quicker.

Step 8:  Paint

Let the stain dry for an hour or so before you start painting.  Just touch it and make sure it’s fairly dry, then you should be good to go.  I would start with the legs or underside if you can, just to get your brush stroke down.  I did not stain the underside of the table just because people rarely see it, and I only painted it.  Feel free to use as much paint as you want here and on the inside of the table.

For this part people will see, I recommend using the following technique:

  • Do half the table first
  • Cover the corners and creases liberally with black paint
  • Cover the knots liberally with black paint, dabbing and making sure it is completely black
  • Brush and blend the excess paint into the rest of the table top/board
  • Wipe with a rag
  • Keep doing this until you have the consistency that you want


I let some of the red show through to add more rustic-ness.  It’s up to you how dramatic you want to be here.  Keep using this brush, blend, and wipe technique throughout.

 

Step 9:  Poly time

This is the final step!  And it’s an easy one.. To protect the table, you’ll want to put a coat of polyeurethane over it.  This is a clear coating that will make wiping it down with a washcloth as simple as if it were a countertop.  Simply pour the poly onto a rag and rub it on, just as you would stain.  I only used one coat on this table, but I used quite a bit on it so I wouldn’t have to put on multiple coats.

After I was done, I just let it dry for a full day.  Once dry, I simply wiped it down with a wet rag and brought inside for the final product!  In this photo, you see the barstools as well – the post for those will be coming soon!

Step 10:  Bring it inside!

Hopefully you all can take something from this post – let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to answer.


DIY counter height rustic table

As I’ve done with the post on Ana’s website – feel free to take your liberties and use your own creativity to come up with whatever best fits your house and your style. We’d love to see your tables – get out there and start building, and be sure to let me know how it’s going!

By
Matt Kluemper

 

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11 Responses to “DIY Rustic Counter Height Table Plan”

  1. Jenn says:

    We have a table that is similar in look to yours but have a terrible time with crumbs and stuff getting stuck in the grooves between the planks. How does it go with yours and this problem? I have 2 small kids and the table is too pretty to cover with a table cloth. I’d be ok with making a new one if I could get away with it for this price and the problem could be fixed. I love the plank look, and your table looks great! Thanks

    • Matt says:

      Hey Jenn! Thanks for stopping by. That can be an issue with ours as well – fortunately it’s just myself and my wife, so the two of us try to be as careful as possible. However, crumbs and debris do still get stuck in the cracks. I’m not sure there is a way to prevent this aside from a table cloth (agree with you – it’d be a shame to cover the table with a table cloth), or thick coats of paint and poly in between the planks.

      If we do get crumbs stuck in between the planks, we have found that using a toothpick to handpick the crumbs out helps.

      You raise an issue that is probably pretty common amongst distressed/rustic table owners – I’m going to do a little brainstorming to see what I can come up with to solve the problem. If you find a solution, definitely let me know!

      • Adil says:

        I used to make my own pocket hole jigs. Drill a hole into a srauqe hardwood block, cut an appropriate angle off the block, and you’ve got your jig. This approach gives you maximum flexibility with the angle, hole diameter and stock size. Sometimes, it’s the best way to go. However, the downsides to this approach are numerous: you have to think alot (it takes some time to figure out the angle and offset), the wood jig gets sloppy after extended use and must be replaced, you need to drill twice for each hole (one countersink, and one for the screw).Enter the Kreg jig.Pros:o no thinking required (well, not about how to build the jig anyway).o easy to use.o high quality product. This is a very well made jig, built to tight tolerances. I expect it to last for a very long time.o the drill bit is also top quality if you’ve only used cheap disount bits you will be very pleasantly surprised to see how this fine Kreg bit performs.o instructions are clear, short, easy to follow.o works as well as advertised. Better than I expected, actually.o great support and product information at the kreg website.Cons:o you are limited to a single angle (about 15 degrees, I seem to recall).o you are limited to a single hole width (3/8 )Overall I am very pleased with this jig. It works well and is surprisingly pleasant to use.I’ve been using the Kreg screws with this jig and am very pleased with them they are the same high quality as the jig. You can use other screws but make sure they are self-drilling.I use any one of a number of my shop clamps to hold things in place they work well. I suspect the kreg clamps would work better but have not tried them, and am not inclined to do so at this time.You will need long reach robertson (square drive) screwdriver (or bit for your power driver). A 3 srauqe drive bit with an extension will do, but a 6 bit is best. (These are available here on amazon.com, and possibly at your local hardware store.)One last thing. Used appropriately pocket holes can be quite strong and durable, whether done with a home-made jig or the kreg.

      • Don says:

        Apply a 2nd coat of poly to the top.
        The poly will fill in the V shaped seams between the boards so they are more like U’s and easier to keep clean.

    • Jason says:

      all dimensional lumber that you get from Lowes or Home Depot has slightly rounded edges. use a planer and it will square up the edges. personally, i think the rounded edges give the piece more character. like another person said, put a few more coats of poly in the cracks. it will make it easier to clean and the character will still be visible.

  2. shannon says:

    To help with the debris, maybe put a glass top on it? just an idea if you dont want to put a table cloth on it.

    • Kajol says:

      I bought this kit to build freams for a raised panel heirloom chest. I considered buying the Rocket jig, but since this one was so much cheaper and would get the job done, I opted for the less expensive variety. A couple of test pieces went well, so I went ahead and plunged into my assembling my freams. When you’re only cutting a few holes, you don’t miss the extras that come with the Rocket, but after a while I began thinking how much easier my life would be had I bought the more expensive kit. That being said, my pocket holes look great and work really well. These things are solid! I love the fact that you don’t have to wait for glue to dry. I haven’t tested the joints to failure, but I’ve put significant force on them, with no ill results.Insofar as choosing the less expensive option, I was reminded of what my Dad always says buy the cheaper one, and you’ll regret it every time you use it. Buy the more expensive one, and you only regret it when you have to pay for it. But I’ve already thrown so much money at this heirloom chest project that I needed to start paring back somewhere!A little advice for those who do purchase this kit: I found that I could use my Quick-Grip clamps for clamping down the jig to the workpiece and drilling the holes. When it comes to screwing in the pocket screws, however, I got much better results from clamping the whole thing together pretty firmly with a C-clamp and then screwing in the screws with a cordless drill. Good luck!

  3. Andrew says:

    there is a easy and cheap way you can solve this problem and keep the look of your table. go down to your local hardware store and get a piece of Plexiglas cut to the dimentions of your table and voila you have a table top that no crumbs will find their way through. this will also help keep the top of your table looking great. another solution would be to use more poly to seal the cracks and make a solid top on the top of the table. it would be like sealing a wooden floor with poly.

  4. Mark Evans says:

    Nice Job! I’m considering building a table and like your design, my question is. Are your legs only attached by 4 Kreg screws, 2 through each support at the table top and bottom support also, and are they sturdy? I realize the Kreg screws are hidden for the leg attachment at the table top, but are they visible and unsightly since I assume they can be seen at your support structure at the bottom?

    Thanks,

    Mark

    • Matt says:

      Thanks Mark! Yes, the legs are attached by 4 total Kreg screws:
      - 2 at the table top
      - 2 at the bottom supports

      Although there are only 4 total screws in each leg, the table is extremely sturdy. The pocket screw holes are visible on the bottom support, but I just painted over them and they look ok. To hide them completely, which I would recommend doing for the most finished product, you can actually get wooden plugs from Kreg or at Lowe’s and paint or stain them to the same color as your table. Hope that helps!

  5. Steve says:

    had similar problem with a table I made, then my grandad told me to cover it with glass the local supplier cut me a piece to fir counter-sunk the corners for small screws, no longer a problem, except when I finished covering it my dad claimed it for his house. still looks good after 5 years.

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