A DINING ROOM TABLE.
I’m sorry, I’m just really excited. We haven’t had a dining table since we moved into this house in January, and so it’s been five months of eating on our laps, the coffee tables, the couch, and the floor. There were crumbs, there was awkward leaning over our food while sitting cross-legged on the sofa to be able to reach the coffee tables, and (my favorite) getting up after eating was the hugest pain in the ass. BUT NOT ANYMORE.
We used this method (sort of) to build this 94” beast of a table, with a couple of modifications detailed below. Are you ready? Let’s go!
- 4 IKEA LINNMOM table tops (47-1/4" x 23-5/8”)
- 2 IKEA TARENDO table frames
- 6 2x2s @ 36” long
- 1 2x2 @ 25-3/8” long
- 2-1/2” wood screws
- 3” wood screws
- 3” sheet metal screws
- Chamfer bit
- Black oxide drill bits
- Saw (probably best to use a miter saw but we don’t yet have one, and we only needed to make one cut so a jigsaw or circular saw will work as well)
- Electric sander w/150 grit paper
- Speed square
- Painter’s tape
- Wood/super glue
Yup. This is an IKEA hack. I would say that it’s because we’re creative and artsy or whatever, but it’s mostly because the thought of spending three hours at a Home Depot on a Saturday trying to pick out a bunch of the straightest 2x8s possible out of a giant stack of lumber makes me want to walk off a cliff. And considering that I weigh about as much as a 2x8 and Kurt’s back gives out when you look at it wrong, we opted for IKEA table tops. Our first table was made of two of them, so we just had to pick up two more, and at $20 each, it worked out okay.
Next was the under frame. While going through this tutorial, I was not a fan of the unfinished pine tables that they used. Yes, we could stain or paint them, but…could we use something else? Something more black like our souls? And honestly, I was determined to find something cheaper because of who my mother made me into as a person. #asianparentingskillsonpoint
And so? IKEA! Their TARENDO table, to be specific. In looking at it online, I found that it was made of steel! But for $40? I decided to do a little digging, and I was very, very thorough, even going so far as to research the steel manufacturer that IKEA uses and it turns out that it’s legit powder-coated steel capable of supporting a substantial amount of weight with zero wobble. We picked up two subframes for $19 each and then a 9 pack of 2x2s cut down to 36” because we needed the rest for other projects.
Now, we started by assembling the tables and then sandwiching a 2x2 between two of the short side subframe pieces like so.
This photo was taken after we cut down the 2x2, but basically, we lined it up, marked it, and I cut it off with a jigsaw. Originally, we drilled the pilot holes through the steel subframe using black oxide drill bits, but then realized that that wasn’t exactly the best way to attach the table together and then I ended up remeasuring so that we could drill pilot holes through the 2x2 in order to sandwich it between the steel sides but if we did it again, I would’ve just clamped it and had Kurt drill it all through at once. What ended up happening was that it didn’t line up quite right (hence the clamps), and we were only able to drive two of the three intended screws through all three pieces, but Kurt tried to pull it apart afterwards and it didn’t budge one bit, so we’re not too worried.
I didn’t take a photo of this next part because sawdust and glue, but the TARENDO has these huge holes in the subframe where you’re supposed to screw from underneath (I think?) in order to attach the particleboard top to the frame. You can soooort of see one in between the two pieces of blue tape in the upper left hand corner in the previous photo. Since we didn’t buy a top, we decided that that was where we were going to attach the 2x2 under supports, which gave us three supports per table. Using glue, we attached long, slim pieces of scrap wood to the underside of the long sides of the frames after carefully drilling pilot holes that lined up with where the pre-existing holes in the subframe were. You can see the scrap pieces in this photo.
The purpose of this was to give the screws that would attach the 2x2s to the subframe a place to dead-end into. We couldn’t find nuts that fit the threads of the screws that we bought, and we didn’t want any accidental stabbing incidents. We taped the scrap pieces in place so that they would dry where we wanted them to, and took a quick half an hour break with Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt so that the glue would dry at least enough for us to continue.
Prior to that though, I’d run a 2x2 up to the table subframe in order to mark where the pre-drilled holes would line up with the supports. After our break, Kurt drilled the pilot holes and used the chamfer bit to drill a countersink so that later, the screw heads would be flush with the surface of the wood. We drilled one screw through each hole partway through and I took it back upstairs and set it against the table to see how our measurements checked out. Once we were sure it was going to fit, we headed back downstairs to drill the rest of the holes, which meant that I marked each post and Kurt drilled. I’m trying to convince him that we need another drill because I could’ve totally done the countersink after I was done measuring, but nooooo.
Anyway. Here’s what it looked like after we got all the posts screwed on.
In order to get everything properly aligned, Kurt decided to again put each screw in partway, and then I would line them up with the holes in the subframe. A dab of glue underneath ensured that these things weren’t going anywhere, and then Kurt came back through to screw them in all the way. At this point, the glue had definitely dried on the scrap pieces we’d glued underneath, but we kept the tape on just in case the downward force of the drilling was too much. I mean, we chose Gorilla Glue just to be safe, but you never know.
Then came the most difficult part: putting the table-top on. And honestly? It was surprisingly painless. I was expecting it to be much heavier, because in our earlier variations of the table, it had a copper pipe base glued on. Obviously without the copper base, it was much lighter, but my brain didn’t get that memo until after I’d put it on its new base.
Next came alignment. Because we attached all of the table tops to each other beforehand, we had to center the entire top onto the frame. I did some quick math and came up with this.
This isn’t exactly the best method, but in our opinion, if you’re working with materials that can’t be shaved down, like these IKEA table tops, well, it’ll do. I marked off the distances that the supports had to be offset in order to even things up, and Kurt was in charge of moving things ‘a little to the left. More. More. More. More. Shit, too much!’
Afterwards, I flopped under the table and marked where pilot holes needed to be drilled and Kurt marked off the drill with a bit of painter’s tape so that he wouldn’t poke through the table top completely, and then he scooted around underneath to drill pilot holes and countersink them.
Then driving the screws in…
Pulling the tape, and touching up with a bit of black paint to disguise the 2x2s, and…
We celebrated with drinks of the alcoholic variety and fries and chicken nuggets because of who we are as people.
All in all, this build took us most of the day, and mostly because we took a lot of breaks so that we wouldn’t get cranky, and also because we felt that we needed to let glue dry. But if you were determined, I think that this is something that might only take a couple of hours. It doesn’t require a lot of power tools and the steel subframe is incredibly sturdy and cheap! We don’t eat by vigorously shaking the table to agitate our food or anything, but we shook the table just to check, and it didn’t budge at all. It proved itself when a certain someone decided he needed to eat a BBQ sandwich with a knife and fork. (Ahem, Kurt’s dad.) But I mean, just working off the steel subframe, you could also make your own top using inexpensive 2x6s and then stain the top however you like. If you're feeling fancy, you could pour concrete and make a concrete top. You could even make the table longer (!!) or shorter depending on your needs and the space you have to work with. The possibilities truly are endless!
As for a price breakdown, this table cost us around $140 total, including the boxes of screws that we bought and the paint, but excluding the tools. I think it was definitely time and money well-spent, considering that a table of these proportions from say, West Elm or Crate and Barrel would cost many times as much. And our relationship survived, so that's all we can really ask for.
Next up, we're going to figure out what to do about a bench, but in the meantime, our spare room is getting outfitted with tons of record and book storage!