The Almost Failed Attempt at Extending Our Dining Table

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.

how to expand a dining table

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?

how to make a dining table bigger

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)!

new 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.

how to expand a dining table


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.

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.expanding the dining 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?)

how to add a leaf to a dining table to make it biggerAnd 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.

Have you ever had a project that took more than one attempt to get right? Or worse is there an unfinished project that you started but just don’t have the patience to figure out?


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About Corey

Corey is the creative behind Hey There, Home where she shares easy-to-follow and beautiful home decor and entertaining ideas. Her mission? To make home decor accessible to everyone, even if you don't consider yourself crafty, and to empower people to decorate their homes in a way that they can actually be lived in, not just looked at.

21 thoughts on “The Almost Failed Attempt at Extending Our Dining Table

  1. C. Showalter says:

    Thanks so much for the description of how you added a leaf to your table. I want to do something similar, but I want to be able to take the new leaf out. It didn’t look like yours could be taken out. Is that right?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Yes. that’s correct. We can no longer take ours out.

  2. Sherry says:

    Hi Corey ,

    I have a large dinning room table that’s too big, I was thinking of tossing on the table saw and cut a leaf out for when we actually need a bigger table. Do you thing this would work the same way .? Or any ideas?

    1. Corey Willis says:

      Hi Sherry! It really depends on the structure under the table. You’ll need a way to pull it apart to add the leaf and still have it be sturdy.

  3. […] Table, New Leaf and How To Extend A Dining Table – Thinking how to apply these ideas to our dining room table. Our eight seater table is over […]

  4. Nancy says:

    Thank you so much for sending me the info of how you upholstered your chairs. I love the fabric, and the pictures and your instructions helped a lot. Yes, indeedy, I am impressed with you and am inspired to try upholstering an old ottamon with a top (basically a box). Thank you again for sharing your creative ideas.

  5. Nancy says:

    Do you reupholster your chairs yourself? I have two upholstered chairs that were in my parent’s home. The seats are sunk down and hard! Everything is bordered with nailheads, which I like. The vintage upholstery is in good condition but kind of old fashioned. Do you have any tutorials on learning to upholster or is it best find someone professional to do it? I enjoy hearing about all that you “all” do and seeing your pictures. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Hi Nancy. I actually did reupholster these chairs myself. I’ve done some reupholstery myself and I’ve also used professionals. I always try and do it myself since I like these sorts of projects. You can see how I reupholstered these dining chairs in this post.

  6. Dan says:

    Thanks Corey. Had you started by adding the 2×2 beams, would you still have made use of the slider timbers, or would have left them out?

    1. I think we would have left them out. We needed more stability. It was a learn as you go thing. 🙂

  7. Dan says:

    I found my way here looking for pointers before attempting this on my table. We have a similar table but it’s fixed not expandable, so I’m preparing to saw it in half. Your finished product looks quite complex underneath, could you essentially have done away with the old slider timber now that the hardwood beams are in place? Are they adding any rigidity?

    I’m going to be fixing 22×220 pine planks onto the top and adding a skirting to give the appearance of it being thicker. I was hoping these would act as support, but after reading about your table sagging, I’m going to add beams underneath too.

    Thanks. D

    1. Hi Dan. We did to away with the sliders. We just reused the wood and that is what you see now.

  8. Very impressive! Turned out great, and cute chairs. 🙂

  9. I have often thought about doing this with our table! What a great idea. I would have thought it was too expensive to have someone else make it. Thanks for the inspiration.

  10. wow looks amazing!! Man I neeeeeeeed a longer kitchen table so bad!

  11. BRILLIANT Corey!!! I never would have thought to have it made by a millwright! It looks fantastic!

  12. My goodness, girl. So impressive! I would have never guessed it wasn’t store bought.

  13. Corey I just saw your post on BlogLovin and it was very timely. We picked up a gorgeous Duncan Phyfe table at Goodwill for $50.00 but the second leaf is missing. I was just saying to my husband this morning that we should figure out a way to DIY the missing leaf. $25.00 at the Millwright – no brainer! Finding one here that I can do the same. Thanks for the awesome tip. As for how to mount it to the table…well I pinned your post to refer to later. 😉

    1. Don’t you just love awesome timing? $50 is a total score and I’m sure you’ll come up with something. You may even want to ask the woodworker for some advice on attaching it. I wish I would have done that cause I’m sure he could have either helped me or given me some pointers to avoid our saga. Anyway, let me know how it goes!

  14. We’re not going to mention all the half-finished projects I have lying around, no siree! 😉

    You two did an excellent job though and should be proud!

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