49. Made From Scratch: DIY Rustic Dining Table (UPDATED!)

Remember our DIY dining table?  I showed it to you in August of last year.  I’ve realized that the instructions I gave could use some improvement…especially after I realized our table was sagging a bit on one side.  The good news is that I fixed it with my AWESOME new drill, and you reap the benefits by getting an improved building plan.

DIY Rustic Dining Table

Materials:

2 – 2x10x12 boards (make sure these babies are STRAIGHT! no warping allowed)
2- 1x4x8 board
4 hairpin legs, standard height (28″)
1-5/8″ wood screws
circular saw (if you plan on doing your own cutting…but most hardware stores will do the cutting for you!)
drill
screwdriver
sander
sawhorse legs (or a long workbench if you have one!)
large clamps
medium and fine grit sandpaper
wood glue
wood filler
several old rags/t-shirts
prestain
stain and/or Danish oil
wood sealant (we used wax paste, but you can also use polyurethane)

Directions:

1.  Cut the 2x10x12 boards exactly in half; this will give you four boards that are each 72″ (6 ft) long.  Take some time laying the boards out to figure out which boards should go next to each other, and also decide which side of the board will face up for the top of the table.  Some of the wood may have small stamp marks, but don’t worry too much about trying to hide these…those marks will come off with the great deal of sanding you’ll be doing later!

diy rustic dining table

2.  Flip all of the boards over LENGTHWISE to ensure that the boards will remain in the correct order.  At this point, you will want to transfer the boards to the sawhorse foundation, or to a workbench if you have a large enough space.  Run a strip of wood glue down each edge of the boards (where they will be touching in the finished project).  Secure the boards together with clamps.

diy rustic dining table instructions

3.  While the glue is drying, cut the 1x4x8 boards into 6 pieces, each 32″ long (you’ll only use 5 of the pieces).  Apply wood glue to one side of each board, and position the boards across the existing boards: one at the center, one at each end, about 3″ from the edge of the table, and space the last two boards evenly between the end and middle boards.  Predrill holes for the screws across the board, spacing the holes about 3-4″ apart.  MAKE SURE TO PREDRILL THE HOLES!  If you don’t, your wood may split later on, and all your work will be for naught!  Secure these supports to the table top using 1-5/8″ wood screws.

diy rustic dining table instructions

4.  Allow the wood glue to dry completely.  After the glue has dried, flip the table top over.  Using your fingers and some wood filler, fill the gaps between the boards (this process is pretty similar to caulking a tub).  Don’t forget about the ends of the table, too!  You should also fill in any splitting knots; they might look cool, but they can split further and ruin your handiwork.

5.  After the wood filler is set and dry (which shouldn’t take too long), it’s time for the “fun” part…the sanding!  This is honestly the part of the construction that takes the most time, and rightly so.  You want the finished project to be smooth and splinter free!  We did two rounds of sanding: one with medium grit sandpaper, and one with fine grit sand paper.  We also used two different types of sanders.  A belt sander is great for smoothing out the length of the boards, while an orbital sander works like a boss to finish off the edges.  If you are looking for a more rustic finish, make sure to pay extra attention to the edges and corners of the table; really round those babies off to give the appearance of age.

diy rustic dining table instructions

6. When you’ve finished the exhausting amount of sanding required to get a nice, smooth surface, wipe off all that dust with some old rags.

7.  Apply a coat of pre-stain using a clean rag.  The pre-stain is optional, but it really helps with an even coat of stain and prevents blotches.  Allow to set for about five minutes, and wipe off excess stain with another clean rag.

8.  Now it’s time to add the finish of your choice!  To get our desired color (a dark brown with gray undertones), we used two different types of finish.  We did two coats of Minwax Wood Finish in “Classic Gray” followed by two coats of Watco Danish Oil in “Dark Walnut”.  Make sure to follow the directions on the container and allow each coat to dry for the suggested amount of time before wiping off the excess and applying the next coat.  We used rags to apply/wipe off both products; I think rags lend themselves to a better application and more coverage than a paintbrush.

Here is what the table looked like after both stains had been applied and allowed to set overnight:

diy rustic dining table instructions

9. After the stain has dried completely, flip the table top over and attach the legs.  I ordered legs from hairpinlegs.com.  They are 28″ standard height 3-rod hairpin legs in raw steel (they are listed in the “Sale Items” section for $20 a piece).

IMPORTANT: Raw steel will rust, even indoors!  I had to learn this the hard way…I’m passing on my knowledge to you so the same does not occur.  In order to prevent rusting, just cover your legs with a few coats of matte acrylic spray.

diy rustic dining table instructions

10.  Finally, it’s time to add the protective topcoat.  I really loathe “shiny” wood, so we opted for a wax finish.  It will have to be reapplied every year, but it has a more natural finish and still protects the table from water stains.  Make sure to follow that manufacturer’s instructions for whatever topcoat you choose, but with wax, you just rub on/off with cheesecloth and buff it out.

Voilà, you have your very own rustic dining table…and you made it all by yourself!

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I was incredibly apprehensive about starting this project, mostly due to the fact that neither my husband or I had ever built anything!  This project ended up being a lot easier than I thought, especially since Home Depot did all the cutting for us.  If we can build it, you can, too!  The best part: this table only cost us about $150 to build (including the cost of all materials).

diy rustic dining table instructions

If you do decide to build a table using our plans, please share them!  I’d love to see how it turns out. 🙂

XO,
Gabriella

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48. I love me some power tools.

I’ll be leaving work shortly so I can buy a new drill/driver before I pick my husband up from work.  I am really excited, because the drill we have now is…sucky.  And that’s putting it nicely.

I didn’t realize how awful our drill was until I started building furniture last year.  I could predrill maybe a dozen pilot/clearance holes before the battery would die.  Forget about driving screws!  I ended up driving most screws by hand.  So not fun.  I had blisters by the time I was finished building our platform bed (which, I know, I still haven’t shown you…I’m a terrible blogger).

I did some research, and it looks like I’ll be going with a 12V drill/driver from Milwaukee.  I swear I didn’t pick the company because I live in Milwaukee.  It has really awesome reviews!  I need something with more torque and battery life, and this should fit the bill.  I’ll be fixing our table tonight, so I’ll let you know how it works out!  I also need to update the post for our DIY dining table; it was the first project I ever put together, and I’m realizing it could use some improvement.

I’ve also learned (mostly through trial and error) how to use tools properly and efficiently.  I found this short article today, and I think it shares some helpful tips for drilling pilot holes and driving screws.

Yes, I am a petite lady that loves power tools.  Word.

XO,
Gabriella

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47. The Craft Queen was featured on The Knot’s blog!

I AM SERIOUSLY GEEKING OUT OVER HERE.  LIKE.  SERIOUSLY.

When it comes to weddings, theknot.com is probably the biggest name on the internet.  And today, one of my wedding tutorials was featured on their blog!  I am giddy over it (if you couldn’t tell already).

You can read the post here.  It also highlights 5 additional tutorials for various wedding accessories, including cutesy-pie shoe clips and rhinestone hair clips.  It’s very well done.

I hope you all have just as great of a start to your weekend!

XO,
Gabriella

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46. Antique store score.

I’ve been meaning to check out Antiques on Second for quite a while, and I had the opportunity to visit last Saturday.  I brought my mom along, and we had such a good time looking through everything.  Well, the things  we had time to see, anyway.  We were there for an hour, and that was just the first floor.  There are two more floors of untold treasures I have yet to see!

I did find the cutest little mirror, though.  I was secretly hoping to find one to display jewelry on my dresser, and I found this beauty for $15.  A decent price, indeed.

antique mirror jewelry tray display
I love displaying jewelry like this.  It makes me feel classy.  Pinky-in-the-air-while-drinking-tea classy.

How do you display your jewelry?

XO,
Gabriella

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45. Knitting: Update on sweater progress!

On Monday, I told you about my plans to create my very first sweater from scratch.  I’ve knit several sweaters from other designers’ patterns, but this is the first one that I’ve designed on my own.  I’m really happy with the results so far.

sweater progress

Ha, please excuse my crappy expression.  I’m really happy with how it’s turning out!  I should note that although the yarn hue looks a bit orange in the above photo (at least on my screen), it’s more of a honey gold.  The colorway is actually “Turmeric” from KnitPicks.

knit picks turmeric

Source: Knit Picks

You’ll have to use your imagination a bit to “see” the final product, but I also made a handy little drawing to provide you with a little more insight.

sweater design

The construction is fairly straightforward: top-down with raglan shaping.  I tend to gravitate towards this type of construction because it allows you to try on the garment as you go to get the best fit possible.  I am also in love with twisted rib, so that will be the only type of ribbing in the sweater.  Everything gets knit in one piece except for the button bands.  I hate finishing steps, so I tried to have as few as possible.

So, what do you think?

XO,
Gabriella

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44. Cold weather makes me knit. A lot.

As I write this, the current temperature in Milwaukee is -7°F (-22°C), with a windchill of -31°F (-35°C).  The word “cold” doesn’t really cut it!  Luckily, I live in a house and our energy tab is paid up, so I haven’t really had to experience it much yet…just the short trip from the house to a warm car, and from said warm car to my place of work.  I can’t even imagine what it must be like for those who are much less fortunate that I. 😦

Winter always gets me back in the knitting mood, mostly because I get the gratification of wearing the finished results just about as soon as they are completed.  I don’t just knit garter stitch scarves either; I’m the real deal!  I do knit scarves and cowls, but I have also made mittens, gloves, hats, stuffed toys, and my personal favorite, sweaters.  I’m actually wearing one of my handmade sweaters today.  It’s knit up in a super soft and warm baby alpaca.


If you are curious, the pattern I used for this sweater is Hannah Fettig’s Lightweight Pullover.  This was the first successful sweater I ever made!  It’s been finished for a few years now, but the style is timeless and the yarn I chose is wearing really well (i.e. not really at all).

Knitting up this sweater is what convinced I could start making patterns of my own.  So far, I have concocted three patterns: one infinity scarf, one cowl, and one hat.  You can find them all for sale on Ravelry, but if you really want to check them out, please feel free to use the direct links for each below.

Fantasia Infinity Scarf

infinity scarf
Isabella Neck Warmer

cowl, neckwarmer
Giana Slouchy Beret

hat, slouchy beret

I am also excited to announce that I’ve started working on my very first original sweater pattern!  I’ve knit enough of them now that I have the general construction methods down pat, so I figure it’s time to strike out on my own.  It’s a pullover with a short collar and button placket.  There will also be a small amount of twisted rib, which I love.  I’m working on the prototype now; as long as the initial measurements work out for my size (the smallest), I should be able to make the proper calculations for the remaining sizes.  I can’t wait to show it to you!

I hope you are warm and cozy!

XO,
Gabriella

P.S.  If you’d like to be my friend on Ravelry, my user ID is lapiumabella! 🙂

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43. Hello, 2014. Nice to meet you.

Happy New Year!  I know I’m a day late…sue me.

I realize that I haven’t written in over a month, but things have been nutso on my end.  Luckily, things are starting to quiet down, which means I can get back to crafting and telling you folks all about it.  This year will be the best yet!

I usually find New Year’s resolutions lame.  Why do you need to wait for a new year to make positive changes in your life?  I obviously made some resolutions anyway.  *jumps on bandwagon*

Here they are, in no particular order:

1. Live a more healthy life.

I am lazy.  This past year, I basically stopped doing any kind of physical activity, and if I’m really honest…I eat like crap and I definitely don’t drink enough water.  Time for that to change, because even though I’m not by any means “fat” or even “overweight”, I just feel sluggish and doughy, and my clothes are fitting tighter.  There is no excuse for my laziness.  I am an able-bodied person without any physical maladies, so I should be using my body to it’s full potential, and no longer fill it with garbage, but healthy, nutritious food instead.

2. Write at least 200 posts this year.

Believe it or not, I only wrote 33 posts last year.  That’s it!  What I’m really getting at is being more consistent, and if I set a goal of 200, that should keep me on track to post at least 3 to 4 times a week.  I hope you’re ready for the barrage of material coming your way!

3. Increase productivity at work.

I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve been slacking a bit at my regular job.  My boss hasn’t brought it up at all, but I know if I don’t step up my game, he’ll definitely be calling me in for a discussion.  I am also up for a pay increase in July, so I need to make sure I’m working my hardest and putting out the best work I possibly can.  Science is all about data and results, and writing those up into manuscript form for journal submission.  I have a project that is on it’s way to a published paper, but it’s still a ways off before I can call it “complete”.  I will be putting in more hours at the bench.  I’m a salaried employee…working more hours does not equal more pay, but I’ll still be setting myself up for a more successful career in general.  I will also be cutting out the amount of time I spend online while at work (unless I’m using it to look up papers to read).  Time to be a super scientist!

4. Save money.

Another thing I’m ashamed to admit: my husband and I have no savings.  Like, literally zero dollars in a savings account.  I think this is really sad considering I’m 28 and Jason is turning 31.  We are adults!  A lot of this has to do with the fact that we are in a LOT of debt (most of it is student loans from my undergrad degree…see next point).  I’ve already set up an automatic transfer for $25/week, which will add up to $1300 by year’s end.  Not too shabby!  We have to start somewhere considering we’d eventually like to be homeowners.

5. Pay down debt.

I’ve made plenty of financial blunders over the years, and unfortunately my husband has as well.  However, we’ve definitely learned from our mistakes and have taken steps to move in the right direction.  Last year, we paid off two credit accounts, which I think is fantastic considering I also had to start paying back my student loans…which are $725/month.  Yep, you read that correctly.  Now do you see why we have no savings and can’t buy a house?!  I call it my “mortgage payment”.  I may qualify for the NIH’s loan repayment program to erase some of the $80K in student loans, but I won’t be applying for that until the fall (and there is no guarantee I will be accepted).  For now, we’ll just have to grin and bear it, although it does feel like I’m just tossing money in the trash once a month.

We will also be able to pay off four additional credit accounts and the majority of money we owe my in-laws.  (If you are wondering why we owe them money, they rolled all but one of my husband’s credit accounts and his student loans into their mortgage when they refinanced, and we just pay them a small amount each month.)  We’ll still have a large chunk left to pay after this year (2 credit cards, a car loan, my student loans, and a small amount left to the in-laws), but we’ll have made a sizable dent in our debt AND we’ll have money in our savings account.  That’s a win in my book.

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season, and I wish you all the best of luck and good fortune in 2014!

XO,
Gabriella

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