Dining Room Ceiling

Bill had the deep desire to create a coffered ceiling in our home since we moved in.  The dining room ceiling has already been patched and replastered twice, and repainted twice. . . which is a lot in less than ten years.  We think that the plaster or paint has had trouble sticking for a few reasons. . .primarily old adhesive from either a wallpapered ceiling or odd sorts of old paint.  Either way, these ceilings crack and flake like nobody’s business.  It’s the one thing in the house that we’ve had to compromise on and go with sheetrock because we just can’t keep doing them every two years.  What I mean by compromise is that we had ideally wanted to keep the house pure of modern insulation and sheetrock as much as possible.

So, Bill’s coffering plan has come to fruition and he began planning out and making the coffered look happen this past winter.  A project this extensive takes forever, partly because I have no carpentry skills and partly because taking up the whole room with scaffolding and tools omits use of the space, in this case, the largest room in our home.  That is hard in the winter when we need a big table for kid projects and play.   So, I am dying to have this project finished.  Especially because the new lights will be stellar, and the newish curtains will be cozy for the winter.

I’ve just finished priming the coffers and I have a plan for how this will all be painted, but Bill still needs wood around the edges and to finish the nail heads.  It willl be a few more weeks/months before completed photos are ready.

All primed
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I am not to be left alone…

Ten or so days before Thanksgiving, I safely delivered Karyn and Will to the airport so they could get a head start on Thanksgiving at Karyn’s mom and dad’s home in South Carolina. Being left alone with 10 days to use before I would fly down to meet them all, I had two choices: build or refinish something or sit around depressed and dejected. So, immediately from the airport, I went to the lumber yard to purchase materials for a new project!

I have been really tired of not having a dining room table ever since we bought our house… which has a pretty big dining room! I have been lusting after several tables at Restoration Hardware for a while now but as a wood worker I could never justify the price when I know I could make the same thing for a fraction of the cost…which kept leading me to think about either finding plans to build a table or designing one of my own.

While innocently trying to get inspired on Pintrest, looking at motorcycles, furniture and the occasional packaging design innovation (product packaging has always been a fascination of mine mostly because it can sell me a product I care nothing about!) I found a table I really liked. It happened to be linked to really cool website and blog associated with ana-white.com. Ana White demystified Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware furniture into DIY style plans. There I found what would become the basis for the plans I would alter to make my dining room table!

I did not change much. Overall I changed the dimensions to be a longer and slightly wider table and then dressed it up a bit. As it was presented, the able was a little too rustic. At its heart, it is a trestle style farmhouse table however I wanted it slightly more refined so I opted for mitered corners instead of the butt-joined corners in the plan for the table top. I also added some stain-grade moldings to both the table top edges and to the bases… again, to dress it up a little. True to a farmhouse table, I added bread-board style ends to the two main panels of the table top effectively turning a 108” table into a full ten feet or 120” long. By the time I added the molding edges to the top the finished dimensions turned out to be 122” long by 42” wide. Perfect for our dining room!

The neatest thing about this project is the materials. It cost less than $200 of construction grade pine (yup… 2×4’s 2×6’s and some 1×4 and 6’s from Lowes), a little glue, a ton of sanding and joiner work and then about $30 in stain and polyurethane. So for about $230, I ended up with a table that would likely cost 8-10 times that at Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware!

Here are some pictures I took along the way:

Tops and Bottoms for the 3 Pedestals
Tops and Bottoms for the 3 Pedestals

I first started by building the 3 pedestals. Above are the pieces for the tops and bottoms of the pedestals and below are the upright columns for each pedestal being glued and clamped. Each Column has the mortise in the center which will accommodate the stretcher bar creating the integrity of joining all three pedestals.

Pedestal Columns
Pedestal Columns

And here are the 3 pedestals assembled before any sanding and fussing!

Pedestals in the Rough
Pedestals in the Rough

I added the molding touches to dress up the pedestals a bit:

A Little Molding
A Little Molding

Then on to the table top! I started by laying out the primary boards that will show the most. I selected the best boards I could find at the lumber yard, cut them to rough dimensions and then played with the grain and pattern until I felt I had them aligned and oriented to one another nicely.

Choosing Boards
Choosing Boards

Assembly of the table top was done in many steps. Here I am showing the top mostly done and highlighting the mitered corners I chose to do over the butt-joined corners the plan called for. You can also see the addition of the molding surrounding the entire table top… another addition I included to dress up the table top.

Table Top Corners
Table Top Corners

Bottom Side Up!

Above picture shows the underside of the table top and here below is the top correct side up, clamped and getting ready for more work!

Top Clamped
Top Clamped

Here is the top sanded and ready for finishing:

Sanded Smooooth!
Sanded Smooooth!

While so many woodworkers report feeling the most anxiety when gluing and assembling their project, I feel the most nervous while staining. While staining, each and every blemish, sand mark and glue mistake shows itself! I always approach staining  praying and swearing…

I used a water bourne polyurethane to limit the odor in the house. I dislike most water polys but the one I like the best is the Varathane floor finishes. I’ve done a great deal of testing these finishes and they perform better than most. They absolutely look like plastic which is why I do not like them compared to oils or aromatic polyurethane… but they have nearly no odor while drying and they are easy to apply and use.

Staining
Staining

In the end, we had a table ready for Christmas Eve dinner (Picture is dessert, the best part of every meal!)

Worth the Work
Worth the Work

As you can see by the picture above, we’re using a mix of chairs we have which include a few folding chairs (classy!). But don’t worry Restoration Hardware! We are likely going to need to buy 12 chairs. I have no real interest in building chairs for some reason…

This will be my last blog post of the year! Whew, just made it!

Happy New Year!

Bill