How To Extend A Dining Table – An Almost Failed Attempt

Having the mind of a DIYer in a spouse is probably super interesting. And by interesting, I mean frustrating at times. The hubs sure was a good sport for this one, because let me tell you… this was an almost complete and utter fail on my part. I had now idea how to extend a dining table before I started this project. Consider that your warning.

Extending our dining table made great sense in my head and we did pull through in the end, but our dining room table sat sagging for a few weeks before we had the courage to tackle this project again.

My hope is that this post will encourage you to take on something that you may have to figure out as you go and learn from our mistakes.

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You may remember me mentioning during my dining room reveal a few weeks back that we took on the challenge of extending our dining table.

The problem started when my new dining chairs had arms. When you put 3 chairs down each long side of the table, it was really crowded and no one wants to be cutting their steak with their elbows pressed into their sides. Am I right?

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Getting a new dining table just wasn’t in the budget and the one we have has a leaf, but even with the leaf wasn’t quite long enough. It would have been easy if they still made this table and I could just purchase another leaf, but that wasn’t the case.

So the first thing I set out to do was to make an extra leaf…

This table is pretty simple but the thickness of the leaf had to be the exact thickness of the table which turns out is a hard thing to find. My first stop was Home Depot and even though the labels on some of the wood say they are a certain thickness, if you measure them, they are not. That wasn’t going to work in this case so I headed to a specialty wood shop where they sell wood to make furniture.

They had exactly what I needed and the guy there was full of knowledge. I told him about my project, how I wanted to recreate a leaf for my dining table, and how I wasn’t really sure how I was going to get the same detail.

Now, I’m usually one to want to DIY everything myself, but in this case he had some great advice. He told me to take my existing leaf and my piece of wood to the millworks shop just across the street and see if that guy could make my leaf for me. So that’s what I did and this guy made me a new leaf in about 2 hours for only $25! Completely worth the money since it would have taken me all stinkin’ day to figure it out and I hadn’t even begun the hardest part yet (although I didn’t know it at the time.)

Just look at how spot on he got the new leaf (and check out the cool workshop)!

custom made table leaf

I took it home and gave it 3 coats of black milk stain and 3 coats of a top coat that we had left over from when we originally stained the table. It was a pretty perfect match.

Now to figure out how to put the table together with 2 leaves.

You’re about to see a lot of trial and error.

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The first thing we did was to take apart the sliding parts under the table to allow for it to be pulled apart further.

Our first attempt was to use the same pieces of wood and attach the leaves to them, using shims in some places to account for the new leaf being just a hair thinner than the original table thickness.

We made sure that each piece of wood spanned 3 parts of the table and used wood screws to hold it in place. We thought we were geniuses and thought we were done, but when we flipped the table upright it sagged just a little bit in the middle and didn’t feel as sturdy as we had hoped.

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So it sat sagging for a few weeks until we had the patience to revisit it. It really just needed a bit more support and so our next idea was to add 2 more beams but this time have them go the entire length of the table.

So back to the hardware store we went and came home with 2 long pieces of 2 x 2 hardwood.

First we predrilled holes and countersunk them so that the screw could reach through the hardwood and into the tabletop without going all the way through.

Next we laid the wood (with the screws in it) down and tapped along where the screws were to make little marks for where we would predrill holes, lifted it up, and predrilled holes on the underside of the table taking special care not to go all the way through.

We backed the screws out of the beam, laid it in place and attached it. Then repeated all of this for one more beam.

Now when we flipped it over the sag was gone and the SAGa was over! (See what I did right there?)

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And now you can see that there is plenty of room to enjoy your dinner without throwing an elbow into your neighbor and it fits the space a lot better!

Buying a new dining table would have cost a lot of money but for about 50 bucks, a few choice words, and a few adult beverages we were able to expand the dining table to fit our needs perfectly.

That’s what I love and hate about DIY all at the same time. It can be mega frustrating, but when you finally figure it out it is so much fun, and absolutely worth the money saved.

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