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Building a dining room table extension

A while back I had mentioned that I was taking on the project of building a table extension. I’m happy to report that that project is complete and that I’m mostly satisfied with the results.

The Problem:

Our dining room table is a unique South African slate topped unit. The slate from South Africa is unique both in its coloration and by the fact that it’s some of the oldest in the world, estimated at 4 million years. We love the table but it would only comfortably seat six people.

With recent family growth we found ourselves wishing for a table that would seat at least 8 so that we could all eat at one table for those occasions such as Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The Objective/Plan:

I’ve got some woodworking experience so it wasn’t too much of a stretch for me to consider building an extension for our current table. I wanted to make an extension that would allow two more people to be seated comfortably and that would fit well with our current table and dining room.

It would also need to be something that can be stored easily when not in use and would need to be completed by our Thanksgiving get together.

The Result:

As you can see from the photos below I think I accomplished my main objectives with this extension.

Dining room table extension-1Dining room table extension-2Dining room table extension-3

[ click above thumbnails for larger images ]

I didn’t try to match the tile inserts because it was very difficult to find matching South African slate and using slate would make the extension very heavy.

The extension is the same height as the original table and you may also notice that the extension has three legs. I used three legs for the following reasons:

  • since it takes three points to make a plane, the extension always sets level without the occasional rocking due to an uneven surface that you might get with four legs;
  • with only a single table leg in the center of the long side of the extension facing the table, it gives unobstructed leg room to the guest using the extension; and
  • with the extension butted up to the table there is little danger of the extension tipping over due to only having this single center leg on that side of the extension.

The original table’s wood is a cherry. My extension used a combination of pine and birch board so I couldn’t match the finish. By using a dark mocha brown I came up with a color that was at least complimentary to the table.

The legs of the table can quickly be screwed off for easy storage. Also, with a table cloth across the table and extension you can’t tell that it’s not one long table.

I’m fairly happy with the results of this project. Of course I could tell you everything wrong with it and would make changes and improvements if done again.

I may have made a mistake tipping my hand that I can do woodworking. I’ve now got a couple of rooms of crown molding to put up, build a new mantle construct for a fireplace and eventually take up some carpet and lay a wood floor. ;-)

12 Comments on Building a dining room table extension

  1. That looks AMAZING! The colors and the table. Seriously, it just looks beautiful. We can’t wait see it on Saturday!

  2. Wow im impressed with the quality of the finish! The quality always suffers in my projects and im not sure why.

  3. Michael, thanks.
    There was a big portion of luck involved. ;-)

  4. Building an extension to the existing table is always very difficult. Lot of care and planning is required to get in perfectly. What a Beautiful Extension Table!

  5. Your table looks great and is very inspirational! I love to try my hand at new woodworking projects.

  6. Thanks Abbie:
    I was pleased with how it turned out and it was easier then I originally thought it would be.

  7. Tyler Ryan // 20 Sep ’08 at 5:52 pm // Reply

    I am attempting the same project that you have done beautifully. What have you used for hardware underneath the tables to connect them? I would like to be able to easily detach and store the extension and I was thinking of some kind of slide bolt, but don’t want hardware showing when the extension is not being used. And I want to have screw-off legs as well and would like to know what you used for hardware there as well.

  8. Carol Harris // 25 Aug ’09 at 7:48 pm // Reply

    Your extension is beautiful. I have the same questions as Tyler Ryan. I would love to create an extension for my dining room table like yours, and would appreciate tips on how best to attach it to the actual table. I, too, am planning to use screw-off legs. I’d appreciate any pointers.

  9. @Carol: The leg hardware I used was standard screw table leg brackets that I picked up at the local home improvement store (Lowes). These had the screws which mounted into the top of the legs and the nut bracket that mounted on the bottom of the table.

    As far as connecting the two together…I didn’t want something that was obvious when not in use so I made a connector which consisted of a single small round head black screw in the table (this screw is almost all the way screwed in) and a small flat metal (springy) bracket that swings out from the extension that has a hole which fits over the screw. This simple connector was all made from misc. hardware and keeps the extension from pulling away from the table.

    @Tyler: Somehow I missed your comment and question. I’m sorry I didn’t reply with these answers at that time.

  10. Earl, this is fantastic. Can you post a picture of the screw + bracket connector you fashioned to connect the extension to the existing table? Thanks.

    • Hi Mike, thanks! At the moment the extension is put away in our closet and I can’t easily get to it to get a photo. The brackets on the extension are flat metal hooks that swing out and catch short studs/screws on the table pulling the two together. Hope that helps.

  11. Earl,
    I love that dining table and chairs! How much did that set cost you ? if you don’t mind me asking, and who is the brand and manufacturer?


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