Stuff I’ve Built: Draw Leaf Dining Room Table

November, 2007

    Way back in 1994, my wife and I were living in a small apartment in St. Pete Beach on the lovely Gulf of Mexico. And, in that tiny apartment, all we had room for was a tiny dining room table.

    Well, that table served us well for 13 years, but our situation definitely changed. With two kids, a house of our own and relatives who like to come over for holidays, our dining needs have increased. What we needed was a table that could sit four of us for day-to-day family dining, but expand to fit a houseful of guests. And, since we didn’t want to give up any of our precious storage space, any table extension leaves had to be stored within the table itself.

    I pored over ideas for a project that would fill the bill, but was stuck. Finally, I remembered that in the house I grew up in, we had what is known as a draw-leaf table, with extensions that stored under the table. I had to look long and hard to find plans, but eventually discovered Tage Frid’s plan for a ‘Dutch Pullout’ table he had published in Fine Woodworking magazine. I found the plan in a book called Tage Frid Teaches Woodworking. You can also find the plans at Fine Woodworking’s website, but you will have to subscribe for the service.

    I built the table with a poplar base, since it was going to be painted. The stretchers are mortised into the tapered legs.

    The table running gear is pretty interesting. Basically, the leaves are attached to tapered runners. The taper rises 3/4″ – the same height as the table top’s thickness – as they are pulled out. This means that the leaves slide nicely under the main table top when not in use – saving valuable storage space in a house that’s already cramped with toys, books and the other stuff that goes along with being a homeowner.

    The main top indexes with 3/4″ dowels glued into the underside of the top. They go through a set of holes in the middle fixed sub-top. That allows the main table top to rise as the leaves are extended. A pretty clever design.

    The base was painted with a sponge-rubber roller – a coat of Kilz II. Sanded when dry. Two topcoats of a white latex enamel. The top was finished with a coat of 1# dewaxed shellac, sanded, then seven coats of Waterlox glossy. I had to tint coats three and four to achieve a darker tone on the table.

    I raced to get the table done in time for Thanskgiving… and moved it to the dining room the Tuesday of Thanksgiving week. Whew.

    For the big day, we were able to seat 10 around the table. Quite an improvement over using the card table.

    11 thoughts on “Stuff I’ve Built: Draw Leaf Dining Room Table”

    1. Very nice table. I was wanting to build one and was trying to come up with a design, but this one (if I make it a little fancier) should do the job. But I was wondering about the table top (this has been what is messing with my plans) rubbing against the bottom and edges of the other top as it goes into place. Will it not eventually leave scratches and marks, perhaps the first time it is pulled out?

      I was going to put a couple drawers in mine (for the larger table cloths, if used, to be stored so that I wouldn’t have to take up storage somewhere else)

    2. Hey, Charlie – thanks for the compliments. I know it looks kinda basic – but the NEXT one I build will rock! 😉

      These plans all take the scratching issue into account. Either put some UHMW tape under the top piece or – the classic solution – is to glue some felt there.

      We have had nothing but success with this table – it’s hard to believe we are coming to the second Thanksgiving dinner in a few months…

    3. Ken –

      Unfortunately, I don’t. I did base it off of a plan that Tage Frid did for Fine Woodworking many years ago. I listed the link in the article – you can sign up for a free trial membership for the FWW digital article server, and you can get that plan for free!

      The table is awesome. If I had to do it all over again, I might use solid wood for the top, but other than that, it’s an awesome plan…

    4. how did you make the end leafs move in and out i cant find anything to make them move. ? please send me a link or anything..

    5. Hey, Jenna – the draw leaf mechanism can be kind of challenging, but it’s all wood – a perfect wooden project.

      Here’s a link to a forum where someone showed the mechanism up close:

      And, you can buy a commercial plan from Kreg tools…

      The actual plans I worked off of are available at Fine Woodworking:

      Sure, they do look kind of complex, but while you are building it, the A-HA moment will occur and you’ll be off to the races.

    6. Lovely table, I absolutely love the table top. Why did you cover beautiful wood with dull white paint?

    7. What are the dimensions of tyour table. Our present table expands to 108″ x 42″ and we can’t get everyone around it so my wife wants one that is narrower (36-39″) but will go at least 120″ in length, preferably longer. Can the Tage Frid plans be adapted to a longer length? Thanks.

    8. They sure can be changed. My table is 89 by 33 extended, and we easily fit eight to ten around it for big dinners…

    9. That is just the table I am looking to build, is there anyway I can get the plans on how to build it and where to get the hardware.Looking forward to hearing from you.
      Thank You.

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