The Unhandy Man’s Guide to Building a Dining Room Table & Bench

dining room table and bench DIY

Here's a peek into our dining room. Our whole place is a huge work-in-progress but this space finally looks pretty cute:) This is a post by my husband Aaron…

We've always wanted a big farmhouse style table but up until we purchased our condo a few months ago, we never had the room for one and really, I never had the ambition to build one. But since I was riding high on my moderately successful brick wall exposure project and since we now have a big open dining room, the space was begging for a big table and I knew I had the answer the call.

My last official wood shop class was in 7th grade about 21 years ago. I've built some random things for my job over the years but never furniture and never something that will be the centerpiece of a dining room. I had a few ideas running around in my head, but they all seemed overly complicated, so I hit the internet for some inspiration and settled on a rather simple design (we used these posts as inspiration/guidance: DIY Dining Room Table, A Story About a DIY Table, and How I Built My Own Table All By Myself). I never really intended to copy any of the designs exactly, but that's pretty much what I did and perhaps, if you find yourself in my situation…needing a table, not wanting to buy one and possessing just enough confidence to get yourself into trouble, you'll copy my design, which I copied from someone else. Living in an urban space and having minimal power tools and no workshop other than my patio, I knew I had to keep it simple, but most importantly, I had to keep it cheap. My goal was to see if I could build the entire table using nothing but the tools I already had and spend under $200.

So, let's get into it.

How to Build a Dining Room Table and Bench…


  • 4 wood planks (length, width and number can vary depending on your needs)
  • 4-6 2×4's (again length will vary depending on size of your table – also used for supports under table)
  • Wood screws
  • Wood stain
  • Polyurethane
  • Brushes
  • Mineral spirits
  • Gloves


  • Screw driver (preferably electric)
  • Sander
  • Wood block planer (optional)

dining room table and bend DIY

dining room table and bench DIY

dining room table and bench DIY

The Steps:

(A note from Anna: Before you start, use tape on the floor to determine the size of the table you would like. This helped us a lot when deciding how big to make the table and gave us a visual so we would know if the table size would work the way we wanted it to in the space.)

1. I started at Home Depot and selected the straightest and least warped boards I could find, which in actuality where about as warped and crooked as a 100 year old man with scoliosis. Lacking pretty much everything but a basic tool kit and a few minor power tools, I knew I wasn't adequately equipped for major construction, so I had all my dimensions written down and had Home Depot make all my major cuts. An interesting note… it's advertised that your first 2 cuts are free, each additional cut is .50 cents. I've found that even at .50 cents a cut that's cheaper than buying unnecessary power tools. Luckily, even though I had them make about 12 cuts, I didn't get charged.

2. After I acquired all my building materials I laid them out in the dining room I did a preliminary dry assembly. (remember, you are building the table upside down, so be sure that you have the side that you want to be eating your thanksgiving diner off of faced down)  I wasn't all that surprised to see that somehow I miscalculated and one of my trim pieces was to long, which in my opinion, if you are going to miscalculated, going long is the better of the two miscalculations. You can always take off length, but's it hard to add it. After another free cut at Home Depot, I was back in business.

3.  As much as I tried to sleuth out the most choice pieces of wood a few of the boards were warped. Going into this project I knew the table wasn't going to be prefect and I was ok with that. I won't lie, I had illusions of chiseling out dovetail joints and using nothing but hand tools in the hopes that the table was going to come out looking like an Amish man built it, but I knew in my heart of hearts, that was not going to be the case, so I butted everything together as best I could and started putting screws everywhere. I was hoping the screws would pull everything tight and to a certain extent they did,  but the the warp was to much to overcome and I still had some high sections on the top part of the table.

4. Unfortunately my goal of using only the tools I currently own didn't come to fruition and I had to purchased a $9.99 wood block planer to plane down some of the surface area.

5. After hours of planing and sanding ( I used my $9.99 power sander i bought at Harbor freight for the brick wall exposure), I had the surface about as smooth and as even as it was going to get.

6. I wiped the surface down with mineral spirits and applied 2 coats of wood stain, followed by 2 coats of a semi-gloss polyurethane.

7. As for the legs, we decided to go the prefabricated route and purchase them. We found some at Ikea for $10 each, but they weren't ideal and we swapped them out for the hairpin legs that we currently holding our office table aloft (you can find similar hairpin legs here and that's ultimately where we ended up getting the shorter bench hairpin legs from).

All in all the project cost was approx. $150 and maybe a weekend's worth of time. I think it looks pretty good. It's not perfect, but in the end all the table is meant to do is hold my plate of food a little closer to my mouth.

And… The Bench…

After completing the table, I came up with an idea to build a matching bench. I basically used the same concept for the bench as I did for the table. I used the same style of board as I did for the tabletop and had Home Depot cut and my trim pieces down to size.  I screwed it all together, sanded and stained it, then order some cool hairpin legs to match the look of the table. All told it took me about an hour to build the bench from start to finish.

Hope you enjoyed the tutorial! Aaron

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