Build A Farmhouse Table From Your Existing Dining Set

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If you've always wanted a rustic farmhouse table, you don't have to buy an expensive pre-made piece or make your own from scratch. Transform your existing wooden table into a classic, authentic looking farmhouse model instead by simply applying weathered planks to the table top, and distressing the table legs accordingly.

Building Your Farmhouse Table

You'll need some basic tools and supplies to get started building your farmhouse table. Be sure to have these materials on hand:

  • Electric sander
  • Three to five wooden planks, approximately one inch thick
  • Wood screws
  • Electric drill
  • Electric screwdriver
  • Tape measurer

To really polish off the rustic look of your farmhouse dining area, you may also want to pick up some wooden benches to replace your existing chairs.

The Best Wooden Planks For A Farmhouse Table

When it comes to choosing the planks that will become your new tabletop, you've got lots of great options, each with its own unique country style:

  • New, unfinished wood: Wood in its natural state offers the benefit of an earthy, just cut fragrance and a clean, rustic appearance. If you prefer a more distressed appearance, you can treat it to create the look of decades of farm use. See the How To Distress Wood section below.
  • Pre-finished wood: Pre-finished planks are available in lots of different colors and finishes. You may be able to find some in just the color you want, and then put in a little time to distress the wood and give it a unique personality.
  • Reclaimed wood: If you can find reclaimed wood planks, you'll enjoy multiple benefits. Not only will you have a rustic table that earned its worn look with actual history, you'll have the peace of mind of knowing you've made an earth-friendly choice by recycling.
build a rustic farmhouse table DIY build a rustic farmhouse table DIY

How To Distress Wood

If you've decided to distress your wood to give it a weathered, farmhouse appearance, one of these methods may help you achieve your desired finish:

Distressing Unpainted, Finished Wood

You will need at least some of these supplies:

  • Sandpaper (fine, medium, and coarse)
  • Hammer
  • Wire brush
  • Mallet
  • Drill
  • Wood file
  • Sock filled with hard items such as nuts and bolts.

To distress the planks and table legs:

  1. Gently use sandpaper to remove some of the finish in some areas.
  2. Smooth some of the edges with a wood file, going in the direction of the grain.
  3. Make some scratches with the wire brush.
  4. Drill a few small holes in a cluster for the appearance of woodworm.
  5. Carefully make some dents with the mallet.
  6. Hit the wood a bit with the filled sock. Adjust the strength of your hit based on the impact left.

If you're working with new, unfinished wood, distress it as you would for finished wood and create a weathered looking stain by soaking steel wool in vinegar for about 36 hours. Apply a few coats of the resulting liquid with a rag for your desired color saturation.

Distressing Painted Wood

You'll need:

  • Paintbrush
  • Flat paint
  • Wood glaze in a contrasting color
  • Can of paste wax
  • Wood varnish or sealant
  • Rags
  • Sandpaper
  • Safety goggles.

To achieve this look:

  1. Apply one coat of flat paint to wood and let it dry for at least 24 hours.
  2. Rub a coat of paste wax over the painted surface and let it dry for at least an hour.
  3. Paint a coat of wood glaze over the paste wax, following the wood's grain. Let dry at least overnight but not longer than 24 hours
  4. Rub any areas you want distressed with sandpaper, going with the wood's grain.
  5. Use sealant to protect distressed wood.

How To Build A Farmhouse Table:

  1. Sand away (or remove with solvents) any undesired finish from areas of your existing table that will be visible. This is most important for the table’s legs, as these will still show, while the tabletop will not. Use the planks of wood you choose as a guide for how rugged the legs of the table should be. Try to make them match as closely as possible.
  2. Measure and cut three to five wooden planks to cover the tabletop. The planks should appear worn, rustic and farm-like. When you arrange your planks side by side, be sure they cover the tabletop completely. A slight overhang (one to three inches) is desirable.
  3. Distress your planks, table and benches to your desired finish with your desired method. If you'd like a worn, painted look, paint your table and planks at this time. See How To Distress Painted Furniture.
  4. Drill holes at regular intervals in the underside of your tabletop to start the screws that will attach the planks. The number of holes and screws you'll need to attach the planks securely depends on the size of your table and the number of planks you're attaching.
  5. Attach the planks to the tabletop from underneath with screws. Be absolutely sure that your screws are long enough to penetrate your existing tabletop and the planks, but not so long as to poke through the planks and ruin your new table surface.
  6. Sand down any rough corners, if desired.
  7. Seal non-painted wood finishes with polyurethane.

Decorating Your New Farmhouse Table

Add the finishing touch to your rustic farmhouse table with some simple design touches. Here are a few that might be just right for your dining area:

Your new rustic farmhouse table will look as though it weathered generations of rural farm life. If you decide to reveal the truth, your guests will be amazed that you put it all together yourself in a single weekend.

Last Updated: April 26, 2012
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About Roberta Pescow Roberta Pescow holds a bachelor's degree in communications from City University of New York, Queens College and is a freelance writer and editor in the NJ area. The author of "A Life In The Service" and "A Monster's Tears," she enjoys writing informative articles, personal essays, fiction and music.  Roberta is a proud mother of two. Her other interests include fitness, photography, sculpture and meditation. She is a voracious reader and holds a 2nd degree black belt in Tae Kwan Do. Roberta enjoys decorating her hectic, but happy home and garden in original and affordable ways.  

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