November 7, 2012

How to Build a Temporary (and Off-Center)
Dining Table that Seats Twenty

I have a fairly narrow, short dining area. If you couple that with the need to seat 15 to 20 people during the holidays, you'll always end up with a headache. This year I was ready to spring into action.

Now, where can we all eat in the same room? . . . . . . . The patio!

Southern California can be pretty sunny on December 24 (Think, "Rose Parade."), and even if it cools down after dark, we have a nice patio fireplace that throws out a tremendous amount of heat.

Yet, two rectangular tables (or more likely three) won't work in the space. There's simply no way to configure the tables such that all the diners would be a safe, comfortable distance from a fire.

Solution? Design a customized table.

I hauled out all the folding chairs from the shed and arranged them in a slightly curvy line, making sure that the chairs weren't too close to the fireplace.
chair arrangement
When you build your own, you can arrange the chairs any way you wish - slight curve, major curve, no curve, or, in my case, a curve closer to one end than the other.
In addition, you will also note that this is sort of a "pedestal table" with no legs near the edges, so no guest has to straddle a table leg.
It turned out that, despite what I imagined to be a small space, I placed 10 chairs on the outside curve and 8 chairs on the inside. And if need be, I can add a chair at either end.
Butcher paper was used to make a template for the tabletop.
butcher paper

I ordered 2X4 and 4X4 lumber cut to length, plus three sheets of 3/4 inch plywood. My 2X4s (used for the feet) are 14" long. This length is probably over-kill, but I was making this up as I went along and decided to error on the safe side. Wobbly tables drive me nuts!
The 4 X4s are 26-1/2" in length. (The chairs I'm using are slightly lower than regular dining room chairs. Normally, they should be at least 2 inches higher.)

My grandson and I made 6 legs. I wanted lots of support. Everything is screwed together, so it will all come apart later.

Four utility shelf brackets (meant to support 10" shelves) were mounted around the top of each leg. The table tops were cut and set upon the legs. Each bracket was screwed to the underside of the table top.

Once the table tops were attached to the legs,
metal straps are screwed to the edges of each joint. Brace2

VoilĂ !


The legs got a coat of red paint.

I've got free labor in the form of three grandchildren who love to help. I can easily get the legs repainted and repainted and repainted again, anytime I want. (Well, at least until the youngest turns 13 and grandma is demoted).

To see the table dressed up in all its Christmas finery, visit this 2012 post or this 2013 post.

Oh, one more thing:
TableCurveDiagram2 The table top is 36 inches wide, EXCEPT AT THE CURVED AREA, where it is 42 inches wide.
If kept at 36 inches, at least two of the diners on the inside curve would not be able to easily converse with one another because of the severity of the curve.
Since I was making the table and could do anything I wanted, I widened the table at the curve and then tapered it back to the 36 inch width at the straight runs. In reality, the problem of the inner chair dilemma was even more pronounced than it appears to be in the diagram to the left.
Of course, you may not run into this if your curve is more gradual.

I will be linking to
Linking to Craftberry Bush


  1. Love the idea of making a temporary table. I LOVE to have everyone eating at the same table. Our eating area is open to the family room on one end and the living room on the other. We bring an extra table up from the garage for holidays and extend as far as we need to go to get everyone there. Good thing there's room for stretching as we just added another grandchild last week!

    I'm visiting through Inspire Me Monday.

  2. I am SO going to recommend this on Google!!! I'm also going to direct people from my Facebook page. I know there are a LOT of people out there with a similar seating dilemma. I don't have one lick of carpentry skills, but I know a lot of people do and could do something like this to solve their problem. Wow, Denise! This was a really ambitious project! The table is SO sturdy, though, and will last for decades through countless family gatherings. I'm really head-over-heels with the way you constructed the legs. I hate having to straddle outer legs, too, so this was a terrific solution! Color me duly impressed, chick!

    1. Alycia,
      That is so kind of you. I can see that I already have some traffic from your Facebook page.

      You are right about my long absence from this blog. I usually spend the fall, winter, and spring months playing with dishes. During the late spring and summer months (up through Halloween), I devote much of my time to my other blog - a site centering on the evolution of my backyard theater. My grandchildren and I have lots of fun with it.

      Again, thank you for your kindness.

  3. P.S. - Great to see you back! It has been awhile!!!!!!! :-)

  4. You are amazed that I made the cornucopia and you made THIS!!!!!!!!!!!???????????? Hole cannoli, this is amazing! I am going to show my hubby, I could NEVER do this myself:) I am a floral designer so florals come very naturally for me. Have a blessed Thanksgiving, I sure wish we could eat outside!!! XO, Pinky


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