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How to Build a Farmhouse Table with a Pallet Wood Herringbone Top!

How to Build a Farmhouse Style Table with Pallets DIY Guide

*This is a Sponsored Post in Collaboration with Ronseal.

Back in the winter of 2017, I mentioned how I really wanted to build my own dining table in the next 12 months. Why? Not just because I like taking on more work, but because I had a vision of a table in my mind that I just couldn't find secondhand.

Our old table (as wonderful as it was), wasn't quite right for the space and the chairs I had also bought to go with it, didn't fit properly underneath. This was basically because it had a central leg, meaning the chairs all bumped into one another when pushed underneath. So despite being quite a large table, the chairs had to be spaced far apart, which meant you could only fit 4-5 at most. All in, it's been OK, but I knew I could make something better!

So, at long last, just within my 12-month plan - I'm doing it! I'm building a table. This might sound like a complicated task - but it's much easier than you may think. So of course, I'm sharing how I built mine, to help you build yours too!

You Will Need:

  • 94x94mm Timber
  • 94x44mm Timber
  • 70x44mm Timber
  • Large Sheet of MDF
  • Pallet Wood
  • Drill and Drill Bits
  • Screws
  • Bolts
  • Socket Wrench Set
  • Wood Glue
  • Tape Measure & Pencil
  • Mitre Saw
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • Wood Filler
  • Sander
  • Various Grit Sandpaper
  • Finishing Wax
  • Knotting Solution
  • Primer
  • Wood Paint

THE PLAN:

The look I'm going for with my new DIY table is 'farmhouse style'. I've spent hours over the last few years researching interior styles and trying to figure out exactly what it is I like, particularly when it comes to furniture. I know for sure that I like rustic stuff. Farmhouse = rustic and it also equals chunky, aged and quality. I think this kind of style suits the period nature of our house perfectly.

So the table I'm building isn't a new design, it's something you can definitely buy new from shops and woodworkers. But of course, you would need £££ - money I don't have! So this is why I'm building one. Stick with me on this!

female DIYer woodworking

Step 1 - Establish Your Measurements

The first step to any DIY is to properly plan what you're about to build. This means knowing how big the table is going to be, as well as how high it will be.

Because I've already bought the chairs for the table, I used these as a guide for deciding on the measurements. I wanted to be able to fit 3 chairs on either side of the table, comfortably without being too tight to one another, or too far apart. This helped me plan the length and as for the width, I wanted to be able to fit two dinner plates opposite one another with room in the middle for serving dishes. Basically, I laid this all out to see exactly what length and what width I needed!

For the height, I used the height of the existing table as a guide and also a quick google told me the standard height for most dining tables - 76cm! Now, remember when you take all these measurements to factor in the depth of the table top as well. For example, whilst the table needed to be 76cm high - the top I plan on making will be 3cm deep, so the base of the table would only need to be 73cm high.

This is a very rough birds-eye view of the plan. You can see I've figured out the overall measurement as well as the actual measurement the wood would need to be cut to:

DIY Table Plans


Step 2 - Cut Wood for the Base

Now you have all your measurements (and you've triple-checked them!) you can go ahead and cut all the wood you need to make the frame. I've used a mitre saw to do this, but if you're skilled with a handsaw then you can easily just use one of those too. Or, if you're buying from a timber yard, you can usually get the wood cut to size for you there and then, when you buy.

I have 3 different sized lengths of wood, each for a different aspect of my table build. These are my measurements:


Full Guide for Building Your Own Table

The wood I'm using is:

94x94mm for the legs
70x44mm for the top section of the base frame
94x44mm for the bottom section of the base frame

Why is the wood for the top section of the base different to the bottom section, you ask? When you sit underneath the table, you don't want your legs to be hitting on the top of the frame, so using 70x44mm will give you more room to manoeuvre.

94x44mm, however, looks chunkier and fits the aesthetic better for the bottom part, in my opinion. Of course, you can use any size wood you wish - but the chunkier, the stronger it will be! This is also why I've gone for nice thick chunky legs.

Here's me testing the measurements against the chairs and making sure everything fits:

What Measurements Should Your Table Be?

Step 3 - Begin Building the Frame

For this part of the DIY, you'll need the four table legs and all the pieces of 70x44mm timber you just cut. You're going to be attaching these together to make the overall frame. This will also be the top section which will support the table top.

Align the 70x44mm timber so that it's butted up perfectly against the top of the table leg. You'll also need to make sure that it's also aligned centrally on the leg too. I've used a combination-square to do this and then drawn around the timber so I know exactly where it needs to be secured.

Using a Combination Square
How to Make a Table Frame

To attach these two pieces of wood together, we'll be using pocket holes with screws. If you have a pocket-jig (or also known as a kreg-jig) then this will make your life 1000x easier to do and it'll also look more professional.

If like me, you don't have one (it's on the wish-list!) then don't worry - you can still create pocket holes, it just takes a bit of knack and practice with a drill.

If you don't know what a pocket-hole is, it basically allows you to create strong hidden joints and screw in at a slight angle. I recommend watching this YouTube video for a more in-depth understanding of pocket holes. But essentially, it looks like this:


You can create pocket-holes with a drill without using a jig, but I definitely recommend practising on some scrap wood first so you get the hang of it. It's also important to know where to position the pocket-hole, how long screws you should use and what size drill-but to use, so definitely do some practising first if you've never used pocket-holes before!

When using a drill without a jig, the key is to drill slightly into the wood going straight first, then pull the drill back out and angle it in the direction you want to create the hole. Move the drill back and forth whilst drilling to create the pocket-hole. Make sure initially your drill-bit is no thicker than the screws you wish to use, although you can then enlarge the 'pocket-hole' part with a larger drill-bit afterwards if necessary.

Ryobi Drill In UseHow to Make Pocket Holes without a Jig

This method without a jig will never be perfectly consistent - but it does the job. Once you've made these pocket holes, you should end up with something that looks similar to this:

Freehand Pocket Holes

You can sand any rough bits down, but in the end, this won't ever be visible when the table is built, so don't worry too much about how it looks!

You'll need to make two pocket holes on either end of the 70x44mm wood and you can then screw into this pocket hole you've just made and into an adjoining table leg. Make sure the pocket-holes are on the inside of the table when you do this. I'm using 100mm screws for this.

DIY Pocket Holes

You'll need to repeat this for each piece of timber and each leg. When you're done, you should end up with something like this - a complete rectangular frame with 14 pocket-holes.

DIY Pocket Holes on Table Frame
DIY Easy Table Frame
DIY Table Frame How To

Make sure all your screws are nice and tight before moving on. There shouldn't be any gaps between the two pieces of wood - if there is, pull the screw out and re-tighten. Your table base should already feel super strong. I put mine to the test and yep, it's definitely strong.

How to Build a Simple Table

Step 4 - Bracing the Corners

Whilst your table is strong, you may notice that there's still a bit of movement, particularly with the frame being prone to twisting. To stop this, we're going to brace the corners so that each side of the frame is pulled in against the other and it's all locked in position.

I'm using some off-cuts of the same 70x44mm wood, and I've simply cut 45degree angles on either end. You'll need four identical pieces, one for each corner.

Corner Braces for Table

Hold this timber in place on each corner and screw through the front into the frame behind. I always make sure to pre-drill holes first as this prevents the wood from splitting - and you also want to make sure your screws aren't so long that they'll pop out the other end of the wood. I'm using 80mm screws for this.

Corner Brace on Table Frame
Girl Making a Table

Repeat this for all four corners and there should be no 'twisting' movement in the frame once complete.

Step 5 - Add Cross-Supports

Now we have the corners supported, we also need to add some sections to the middle section of the top as well. This will act as extra support for the tabletop so it's supported in the middle. I'm adding two cross-sections, but if your table is bigger you may wish to add more.

Take the inside measurement between the two opposites pieces of timber on your frame and cut some wood to size. Again, I'm using offcuts to do this.

Countersinking ScrewsTable Frame with Supports

To affix this wood in place, I've screwed through the front of the frame we've just built. Whilst these screws will be on show - we can hide them later with a bit of filler, so you'll need to make sure they're suitably recessed into the wood. I've used a countersink drill-bit to do this. Again, make sure you pilot your holes before screwing to prevent splitting!

How to Use a CountersinkUsing a Drill as a Screwdriver

With two cross-sections in the middle and braces at each corner, the top of the base frame is now complete and will look a little like this:

Base Frame for a Table DIY

Step 6 - Adding Strength to the Bottom of the Frame

Whilst you could leave the base of the table like this, I'm going a step further. Partly because I like the look of what I'm about to do next (it will complete the 'farmhouse look'), but it also gives more support to the base. Since I want this table to last forever (literally - I mean forever!), I think this is definitely worthwhile doing.

The idea with this part of the DIY is to secure all the legs together at the bottom of the frame, so they're all pulled in against one another. It will make the table doubly secure and there should literally be no movement, even over a long period of time.

To do this, we'll be attaching two table legs together on either end of the table and then adding a centre length of timber, which will be secured across the length. Hard to explain, but like this:

DIY Farmhouse Table Legs

The wood I'm using for this part of the DIY is 94x44mm, purely because I want it to look chunkier than the top section we made earlier and this measurement also ties in with the table legs, which are also 94mm.

I had quite a few different ideas for ways on how to attach these bits of wood, but in the end, I decided to go for the simplest option - bolts. It sounds kinda ugly, I know - but we'll be covering over the bolt head, so don't worry too much about how it will look.

wood coach bolts

First of all, you need to drill out a hole for the head of the bolt to recess into. So do this, I'm using a flat-bit. Make sure to choose a flat-bit that is wide enough for the head. For these bolts, I'm using a 22mm flat bit.

Position your drill bit centrally on the leg and align it against the timber you'll be attaching on the other side. I've used an off-cut of wood to prop up the timber on the other side. This means it's 44mm off the floor, which I thought was a good height.

Drill a hole using this flat-bit around 1.5cm deep, or deep enough to sink fully sink the bolt head into.

Using a Flat-Bit
Flat-Bit in Wood

Then using a drill bit that matches the required width of the bolt (the ones I'm using require an 8mm drill-bit), pre-drill a hole through the table leg and into the 94x44mm wood behind. Once you've done this, you should end up with a hole through both pieces of timber, that looks like this:

Pre-drilling holes for bolts
DIY Table Build

Using a socket wrench, you can now add the bolt. This will go all the way through the leg and into the wood on the other side. I've added two bolts on each leg so that it's nice and secure.

Building a Table with Bolts
Hiding Bolts on a Table
DIY Dining Farmhouse Table

Confused? This time-lapse might help:

You'll need to repeat this for the other end of the table, then we're going to do the same for the cross-beam which will attach to the two pieces of wood you've just installed. The wood I'm using for this is also 94x44mm.

Position the wood centrally against the timber you just installed and prop it up so it's in position. We'll be using bolts for this again, so you basically just need to repeat the method above. Use a flat-bit first for the head to recess into, then pre-drill a hole for the bolt. Once done, you can use a socket wrench to add the bolt and secure it in place. 

Girl Building a Dining Table
Girl Using a Socket Wrench
Bolts Recessed Into Wood
Easy DIY Table
DIY Farmhouse Table Fame


Step 7 - Add an MDF Top and Prime

Since I plan on using smaller planks of pallet wood for my tabletop, I needed a large sheet of MDF to attach this onto. With a 4cm overhang around the whole table, this measured 179x94cm. However, since I only have a small car, I had to get it sliced down the middle at the timber merchants so that it would fit in the car.

MDF Tabletop

The MDF I've gone for is 12.5mm thick - I don't think you want to use anything thinner than this or it will be too flimsy and prone to sagging. Thicker would always be more ideal, but the thicker you go, the more expensive MDF gets. I felt like this was a good middle-ground.

12.5mm thick MDF

To attach the MDF onto the frame I'd just built, I simply screwed through the cross-sections (from step 5) on the underside of the table to secure it in place.

MDF top Dining Table

As MDF is porous, it supposedly should be 'primed' prior to being glued. I'm no expert when it comes to working with MDF - this is just what I had read online. So to do this, I mixed up some wood glue with water (around 80/20 mix) and simply rolled it on.

How to Prime MDF for glue

Step 8 - Dry-Fit the Pallet Top

So, as mentioned, I'm using pallet wood to create my table top and I wanted to create a herringbone pattern with it. To do this, I cut the planks into 37cm lengths and laid them across the table in a kind of zig-zag pattern. 37cm lengths worked perfect for the size I'm making, but if you're making a bigger or smaller table, you may need bigger/smaller lengths of pallet wood.

How to Create a Herringbone Tabletop with Pallets

It's really important that all your pallet slats are the same width, depth and length. This herringbone pattern only works with wood that's consistent in size, so make sure when selecting your pallet planks, they're the same size!

The depth is also really important, otherwise, your table will have different levels across it - not so great for those delicate wine glasses! Pallet planks are never perfectly consistent, but generally, as long as they're within a few mm of one another, it won't be too noticeable. Otherwise, you could also always use new wood for this and age it yourself later.

If you have access to a thickness planer, this is a great way to ensure the depth is consistent for an absolutely perfect finish as well. Sadly I don't have one myself - but it looks like a very useful tool for this kind of thing!

Herringbone Pallet Tabletop

In order to keep the herringbone pattern straight, I used a laser-level to align the wood. This is a really clever tool with a whole range of uses, but in this case, you can see below how I matched up each corner of each slat against the laser to keep the pattern perfectly aligned so it didn't go off at an angle.

Using a Laser Level for Herringbone
Stanley Laser Level in Use

In order to make cuts along the edges of the table, I aligned a long spirit level against the edge of the table and then drew the line in which I would need to cut. You can also hold our pencil underneath the pallet wood, against the MDF edge to create the same line as well.

I then cut this with the mitre saw by aligning the line I had just drawn against the blade. If you have a circular saw, you can always affix the wood to the table first and then cut it off with the saw later.

How to Make a Herringbone Tabletop
DIY Herringbone Tabletop
DIY Herringbone Table Made with Pallets

Step 9 - Glue the Wood In Position

Once all the planks had been cut and the dry-fit was complete, the next step was to glue the wood down. For this, I used Evo-Stik's interior and exterior wood glue. This is super strong (claims 'stronger than the wood itself!) and I can completely vouch for that. The glue has a nozzle to apply with, but I found this quite hard to get the glue through. Let's just say it was a serious hand-ache and painfully slow! So, I opted for just pouring the glue straight out instead.

It's important to butt each plank up against one another as tight as you possibly can when you do this step. We don't want any food getting lodged in there later!

DIY Rustic Dining Table
Evo Stik Exterior Wood Glue
Rustic Pallet Wood Table Top
DIY Pallet Wood Table How To


Step 10 - Adding the Outer Trim

At the moment, the edge of the table is a side-profile showing both the pallet and the MDF. It doesn't exactly look very 'finished'. So to deal with this, I decided to add a strip of wood (matching the depth of the top) around the outside of the table. This is simply nailed into place with some lose-head nails.

Creating an Edge for a Table
Edging around Table DIY

Step 11 - Fill Any Gaps with Wood Filler

Since the nature of pallet wood is imperfect, whilst I butted up the planks as closely as possible, I did still end up with a few larger gaps between the planks. To deal with this, I used Ronseal's wood filler in the colour 'natural' which is perfect for light-coloured wood like pine and pallet wood. It's really important when using a filler that you push it right into the gap so it's fully filled and not just covered over the top.

In hindsight, I would have actually done this step after sanding the wood, as the filler did get a little lodged into any crevices and made it a little more work when it came to sanding.

Ronseal Natural Wood Filler
Ronseal Natural Wood Filler In Use
DIY Filling Gaps with a Natural Filler
Ronseal Filler on Table

I also used the same filler to fill over those screws and bolts in the frame too. You'll need to build the filler up in gradual stages when doing this.

Filling Large Gaps with Ronseal Filler

Step 12 - Sand the Wood

Onto my least favourite part of any DIY - sanding! I absolutely hate sanding, but needs must and all that.

You can use any sander to do this, but I switched between a belt sander and a random orbital sander. I started on a coarse grit (60 I think it was!) to get the bulk of the muck and roughness off before switching to a finer grit and then finishing on 120 grit.

It's really important that you spend a decent amount of time on the 120grit getting rid of any little scratches that have developed from the coarser grits. If you don't spend enough time on this step, any scratches in the wood will show up when you add the finishing wax later.

I ended up having to sand the wood a little more than I wanted to, purely because some of it wasn't in the best condition. - I wanted a consistent finish across the table, therefore when one section got a more harsh sand, another section needed the same.

I really wanted to keep a bit of the rustic beauty though, so I haven't sanded it back entirely to perfection, but you can see how different the wood looks now!

Using a Sander on a Herringbone Table
Herringbone Pallet Wood Sanded
Pallet Table Top Sanded


Step 13 - Add a Protective Finishing Wax

In order to protect the top from staining, I needed to add a protective finish to the top. I used Ronseal's Interior Wax to do this and because I was a little disappointed in having lost some of that 'rustic character' from sanding, I decided to use the wax to try and bring back some of those varying tones.

So to do this I used two different coloured waxes, one in 'Rustic Pine' the other in 'Dark Oak'. I also tiny bit of raw/clear wax too when necessary.

Ronseal Interior Wax Review

You have to really mix this wax well before you start. At first, it didn't seem to be mixing together, but you just have to keep going (I think also, the super cold weather didn't help!). You'll know when it's mixed together correctly - if you don't think it's right, just keep going!

Ronseal Interior Wax In Use

To make the varying tones seem realistic as possible, I mixed the two waxes together in random consistency and applied a different mix to each plank. Some planks were 'rustic pine' on its own, others were a 50/50 mix of both, and others a 70/30. You get the idea!

On some planks, I even used two different mixes on either side of a single plank. I also added a bit of clear/raw Osmo where necessary, just to add a third tone to the mix.

Ronseal Interior Wax Rustic Pine on Dining Table
Ronseal Wax Rustic Pine
Ronseal Wax Dark Oak
Mixing Different Waxes Together

I did two coats of this random-mixing technique and at this point you could really see the different colours between the planks. This might not be everyone's cup of tea - but this was exactly what I was after!

How to Create a Rustic Table Top with Wax
Multi-coloured Rustic Table Top with Different Waxes
Rustic Herringbone Pallet Wood

However, I also wanted the tones to blend together a little more and look more realistic. So, I then gave the top a quick sand with 120 grit, and finished the top in a solid coat of Rustic Pine over the whole table. I think this makes it look more natural and I'm really pleased with how it turned out!

DIY Dining Table with Pallets
Pallet Dining Table Top

Step 14 - Prime and Paint

Finally, the table is almost done! To finish up, I wanted to paint the base. Because the wood is fresh and untreated, I used a knotting solution over any knots. This stops them from showing through and discolouring the paint - which can often happen, particularly in light-coloured paints. You may have seen this before with weird yellow marks in wood paintwork - that's knots ruining the paint!

DIY Farmhouse Dining Table
Liberon Knotting Solution

Once this had dried, I then used Ronseal's One-Coat Primer. I'd never used this before, but I really liked it and the one-coat aspect meant less work, so win-win!

Ronseal One Coat Primer
Ronseal One Coat Primer In Use

I finished up with two coats of Valspar wood paint, colour-matched to 'Manor House Grey' by F&B. Whilst I love the colour, I'm not entirely sure it fits right within this room, especially against the dark grey backdrop. However, for now, it's absolutely fine and completes this whole table build!

DIY Dining Table Full Plans

DONE.

So that's it, the table is now done! Painted, protected and perfected. Well, almost perfected. Because let's face it - I'm a DIYer, not a carpenter. BUT, all things considered I think it's come out really well! I love its rustic character and this also means I could get away with some imperfections too. Here's a final close-up look at the whole finished product and how it fits this space:

DIY Farmhouse Table How to Guide
Rustic Farmhouse Table in Manor House Grey
Modern Rustic Dining Table DIY
DIY Table Top with Ronseal Wax
Eames Chairs in Dining Room

DIY Pallet TableTopMustard Eames Chairs with Grey
DIY Dining Table - Full Guide

Victorian Terrace Kitchen-Diner

Things I would Have Done Differently

Hindsight is 20/20 so they say, and like all DIYs, you learn as you go. There's always a whole bunch of stuff I wish I had done differently, but because I've already done this DIY, I get to share my mistakes and regrets with you, so you don't do the same!
  • If making pocket-holes seems like a bit too much of a hassle for you, then you could always use bolts for this part too. You would just have to be careful of 'cross-over' when doing so. Make sure to position one higher than the other on the opposite timber.
  • If I could have invested in a thicknesser to have made all the pallet slats the same thickness, I would have done. Our table is definitely a little unlevelled in areas, so using a thickness planer would have been ideal.
  • Filler: If I was to do this again, I would have filled the gaps after sanding and then have given the table a light re-sand. I think this would have been much easier.
  • Another issue I had with the filler, was the individual pallet planks contracting/expanding in heat and separating slightly from the filler. I don't think there's really any way around this other than not using filler at all, but definitely something to bear in mind, particularly if your table will be near a heat source or in direct sunlight.
  • Instead of filling over the bolt holes, I would have invested in some mushroom joinery caps instead. Filling over the bolts gives a seamless look, but if we ever move house, we won't easily be able to dismantle the table for transport. These joinery caps can easily be popped off so you can remove the bolts at a later date if required.

So that's it! I've had lots of questions on Instagram about the cost of this DIY - and I'll admit, it hasn't worked out as cheap as I would have hoped. The chunky wood is definitely to blame for that! However, I do still think it's a bargain considering the price of buying a table new. If you're on a super budget though, buying a secondhand table is still a cheaper option. But then it may not be a sturdy, the right size or what you're exactly after - which is the whole reason I DIY'd this table!

So here's the full breakdown of costs. I'd love to know what you think to this DIY, whether you're inspired to give it a go yourselves, or if there's anything you think I should have done differently (suggestions for a new colour base greatly appreciated!)

Total Costs

(rounded to the nearest pound)

94x94mm Timber 3.9m £37
94x44mm Timber £18
70x44mm Timber £14
Screws £5 (with spare)
Bolts £16 (with spare)
MDF Sheet £18
Wood Glue £11
Pallet Wood £5
Wood Filler - Gifted, but RRP £5
Finishing Wax - Gifted, but RRP £18 (I used two different shades)
Knotting Solution £5

Total: £170

(excluding paint and primer)


*This post was created in collaboration with Ronseal, who kindly provided some supplies for this DIY build. Thank you for supporting this blog! :)


How to Build a Farmhouse Style Table with Herringbone Top - DIY Guide

2 comments

  1. Hiya. As I said on Instagram (smcdesigncreative), I love this table and think you've done an amazing job. The finished piece is lovely and quite unique. I love the herringbone pattern and that its made from pallets is awesome! I want to try something similar myself as our dining table is warped so I'd like to replace the table top at least. You should be proper chuffed with this. Great job and thanks for the breakdown and instructions. Nice one :)

    ReplyDelete
  2. I just read your post and found it very useful. They look great, you can always rely on CFS! Your idea is lovely too

    ReplyDelete

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