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Author Topic: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!  (Read 1503 times)

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Offline ljohnsaw

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Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« on: August 17, 2017, 01:02:33 pm »
Well, I went to NY from California for a big wedding.  I was showing my new nephew my cabin build thread and my thread on a slab cedar dining table I did for my niece.  At first, he just wanted me to make him some boards (and ship them) for a big dining table to be manufactured by a friend.  The idea being the wood would hold a special meaning as it came from my property.  Now he wants me to do the build...  Options include Incense Cedar, Pine (Ponderosa, White or Red) and big Quaking Aspen.  For interesting grain, maybe the first two, for lightness (weight), Cedar or Aspen.  Thoughts?

First pass was for a 12' long table (with a leaf or two) that could be taken down to 6' or so.  Also wants benches for the long sides.  The plan/wish list morphed into live edge table and benches - two 6' benches per side and 4' benches for the ends (a 4' wide table) - big Italian dinners ;).  He wants it THICK - and I think I persuaded him to go as thin as 2-".

To go a little more rustic, he wants "logs" for the legs.  I'm thinking 4 or 5" diameter legs and something a little smaller for the benches.  That is where I'm at/stuck.  For the table, the frame would be a standard mortise into the "log" legs attached under the table top.  I'm worried about the benches - making them strong enough (16-18" wide?).  A stretcher between the front and back legs with a center stretcher the long way?  I'm worried about them racking.

And then the issue with extending the top.  What are the options there?  I've seen plenty of old tables with a sliding dovetail but this table will be heavy - perhaps an extra set of legs to support the middle?  Is there a more modern way to extend the table with metal rails?

Anyone with pictures of something similar in whole or just parts of what I am contemplating?
John Sawicky

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Offline Savannahdan

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #1 on: August 17, 2017, 02:15:39 pm »
There are a couple of sites where folks have made furniture and published how-to articles.    Ana White is one of the big sites and there are others doing things like her.  This site has a unique table with built-in coolers and a separate project page for the benches:  KRUSE'S WORKSHOP.  Have fun. 
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Offline grouch

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #2 on: August 17, 2017, 07:10:22 pm »
Re: those stretchers you're thinking about


The above wedged through tenon joint is stronger than...



this one.

(Images grabbed off the Internet for examples).
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Offline Larry

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #3 on: August 17, 2017, 07:48:46 pm »
IMO 4' is far too wide for a table.  When people are sitting across from each other the food is always out of reach of one and often both.  They have to stand to reach a food bowl.

I've built a couple of wide tables on commission but neither were 4'.  Both times the customer wished the table was not so wide.

If your concerned with racking put adjustable levelers on the legs.  Same idea as the little legs on washing machines.  They sell them for furniture but I make my own so they can be nearly completely concealed.

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Offline WDH

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #4 on: August 17, 2017, 08:21:58 pm »
I agree.  I run into this commonly.  4 foot is too wide for a dining table. 
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #5 on: August 18, 2017, 12:35:04 am »
Yeah, I think 4' is a bit wide.

Grouch,
On the stretchers - I was thinking more of the two legs on one end having a top rail attached to the seat top and a lower rail (stretcher) going from the front to back leg (like you see on chairs) and the the long stretcher going from end to end down the middle.  Wondering if that would be strong enough.

My biggest stumbling block is the desire to have an extendable top and live edges.
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Offline Ianab

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #6 on: August 18, 2017, 02:59:23 am »
Quote
On the stretchers - I was thinking more of the two legs on one end having a top rail attached to the seat top and a lower rail (stretcher) going from the front to back leg (like you see on chairs) and the the long stretcher going from end to end down the middle.  Wondering if that would be strong enough.

It's as strong as you want to make it, and if he want's "chunky", that's in your favour. This is our live edge dining table that I made a while back. It's not as big as the one you are planning, but it's live edge, and "chunky".



Without the top.



The bottom stringer is basically a 6x2 with a through tenon and a pin to keep it in place. The pin is just a tapered round hardwood pin, with one side flat and tapered. It fits in a round hole and is tapped into place to keep everything in place. It can be tapped out to break the table down. The top stringers are lighter, just 2x1 are simply screwed into matching notches on the top of the legs. Then the actual top is fixed to the top stringers with 4 screws. There is enough flex in the top stringers to cope with seasonal movement (they can bow in and out a little as needed). I went with the single upright at each end because that way you don't have a leg blocking someones seat, and a relatively small table like that can easily sit 6.

So the whole table can be broken down with 8 screws and 2 pins if it needs to be moved.

Anyway that might give you some ideas.

As for extensions? Yeah, that's going to be a challenge. What about some slide in extension "wings". Matching sections of table top, with a couple of pieces of light box section screwed under them, that can be slid into matching holes in the end skirts at each end? A 3ft wide x 2ft long section is something that can be handled easy enough, and if you got clever you could probably rig up some sort of storage under the main table?

I also wonder if you could do 2 "tree trunk" legs with an H pattern like mine, and a couple of good hefty stringers between the logs? My uprights are 8x2 with simple lap joints to the cross members, but there is no reason you couldn't change that to a log. 

A lot of people have great designs about how they want something to look. The challenge is sometimes  working out HOW to actually build their vision.  :D

PS, this table isn't live edge, but it's on single plank, and it's pretty "chunky".



This is the supports underneath it. That's actually using something like the construction you are thinking of. Imagine your logs in place of the uprights.



BTW, the top of that table alone weighs over a TON. It was made in the 60s or 70s for the boardroom of an Auckland brewery, but now resides in the "Kauri Museum" in Northland.
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Offline grouch

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #7 on: August 18, 2017, 07:29:49 am »
I notice the "ton" table top has rounded corners. Sharp corners belong in the joinery, not in the path of users, in my opinion.

Instead of extensions, how about 2 matching tables? Easier to move and store for the masses you're talking about.

You could also have a drop leaf at each end. The maximum length each leaf could be is the height of the table (typically, 28 to 30 inches). When both are lowered, the end seating is not useable; when both are raised, the table is slightly under 5 ft longer.
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Offline ljohnsaw

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #8 on: August 18, 2017, 09:50:58 am »
I knew I could count on you guys.  I thought of a drop leaf but they will be using the table for everyday use so loosing the ends might not work out for them - I'll check.  I did NOT like the idea of splitting in the middle - that would destroy the grain continuity weather it be leaves in or out.  I do like the idea of "plug in" leaves at the ends of the table.  It would be a challenge to have a good support system - perhaps a swing leg from one of the log legs split in half?
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Offline Grizzly

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #9 on: August 18, 2017, 11:58:47 am »
And then the issue with extending the top.  What are the options there?  I've seen plenty of old tables with a sliding dovetail but this table will be heavy - perhaps an extra set of legs to support the middle?  Is there a more modern way to extend the table with metal rails?

Anyone with pictures of something similar in whole or just parts of what I am contemplating?

I've gotta get back to the field and baling but a friend of mine has been making those large extendable tables for years and some heavy ones as well. Sometimes small legs in the middle that travel with the dovetail slides and sometimes a pedestal that splits and does the same thing. I'll get what pictures I can as soon as I'm home for more than a few minutes.

About the width. We commonly have 13+ people sitting at a table and when you have several serving bowls/pans of food to be passed around we have found a 48" wide table to be a minimum. Not enough room on the table for all the servings otherwise and as far as reaching....that's no problem cause you ask for what you want and it gets passed to you. We will likely never go back to a 42" until our house empties out a little. Just my thoughts.
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Offline WDH

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #10 on: August 18, 2017, 04:25:37 pm »
From my experience, over 42" wide is too wide  :)
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Offline low_48

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #11 on: August 18, 2017, 05:13:36 pm »
As mentioned, 4' is too wide, and 6' benches are a horrible pain when seating a large group. My back would not tolerate the amount time I sit at a huge family dinner, sitting on a bench. Not to mention sitting next to a big person who needs the bench back further. I hate benches at dining tables! I'd suggest you have him get a couple sheets of luan in the room and see just how large that table is going to be! A 4'x12' dining table is more like an aircraft carrier!

Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #12 on: September 14, 2017, 07:49:09 pm »
We have two in the shop now that are 54 and 58 wide respectively. These tables are too wide !!!
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Offline scsmith42

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #13 on: September 16, 2017, 10:16:55 am »
For me, 42" wide is the sweet spot for a table for a home.  One problem with 48" is that it just does not look right proportionally (tends to look like you built the table from sheets of plywood).

Lodges, restaurants, or other installations where there are wide open spaces can lend themselves to different dimensions that are appropriate to the surroundings. 

Since you are considering using log sections for the legs, something wider may be appropriate.
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Offline Randy88

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #14 on: September 25, 2017, 02:35:40 pm »
I'm curious as to how this turns out, so I'm going to tag along for learning purpose's, sorry I can't contribute much, I'm more into the simple builds like trestle tables and no sliders.           

 

   

Offline Engineer

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #15 on: November 22, 2017, 04:15:06 pm »
I am building a pine live edge table and benches with a friend right now, for his family.  Table is 42" x 110", 1-1/2" thick, benches are 8' long and about 14" wide and 1-3/4" thick.  Using the same trestle-style mortise and wedged tenon as above for the table.  It is being made to take down into 4 pieces so that it can be moved.

I will take pictures in a week or two when we have it mostly done.

Offline POSTONLT40HD

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #16 on: November 22, 2017, 07:23:51 pm »
One problem with 48" is that it just does not look right proportionally (tends to look like you built the table from sheets of plywood).


 steve_smiley

I agree.
I'm thinking......

Offline tule peak timber

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #17 on: November 22, 2017, 07:34:55 pm »
58 X 120

 
  54 X 120

 
   We are pitching one at 65 X 144 this week.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #18 on: November 22, 2017, 10:25:15 pm »
Yes Sir Rob, those have their "big boy" britches on!   smiley_thumbsup
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Re: Ideas for a large family dining table - picture please!
« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2017, 01:28:49 pm »
A long time ago I said I'd share what ours is like. So here goes.
Pictures 1& 2 just show the basic table as we use it.

 

 

 

 

This shows the center leg attached to the tracks and that the track is 3 stage.
 

 

Just shows positioning of center leg.
 

 

Last 2 just show removeable leaves.
 

 

 

 

This table is a fraction less than 42" wide and we wouldn't mind if it was wider. It's overall length stretched is 13ft and someday we'd like something closer to 20ft. Someday. We fill this table fairly regular with family or visiting folks and it's really enjoyable to visit and share fellowship. Well, I guess the table is usually full of food too. So just to share what we have.
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