My local town adult education flyer came in for the winter session, offering
12 woodshop sessions for $200, which got me wondering.
Is it feasible to build a basic dining room table in 12 woodshop classes?
How much would it cost?
Of course, the devil is in the details, so I just want to rough it out.
I realize the variability in cost of the wood could be huge.
What's a decent dark'ish brown wood for a decent price for a dining room table?
The shape of the table would be either circular or rectangular with oval ends.
Maybe five or eight feet long?
(What's a basic size for seating four to six people?)
no doubt you coud pick up a cheap one for little money at a scondhand
store like goodwill......
making furniture is more about making something you can be proud of
than making something cheap.
and just about any wood can be stained for whatever color you want..
if 12 weeks isnt enough, just spread it over 2 class groups
12 weeks plus 12 weeks.
years ago i got into reaupolstering furniture, with no sewing skills
or heavy duty sewing machine i took the class multiple times and redid
lots of furniture. ended up helping as a assistant teacher by the time
i ran out of stuff to redo
Wow! If you have a really good plan, a good instructor and adequate
tools, it could be done (IMO). A round table with leaves is my
favorite, and I'm shopping for one now. I had an antique 54" that once
had leaves but I didn't have leaves. It seated six easily but we often
seated eight...it was our only table and was in the large kitchen.
Although it was veneer, it took a beating and I just refinished the top
when it showed too much wear (baking, crafts, rolling out countless
batches of PlaDoh, etc). Round tables with pedestal allow for more
flexible seating because there are no legs to get in the way. A 48"
table might fit better if not in a really spacious home....you can
design in enough leaves to seat 20 if you want...the Amish make them
that way :o)
If I was undertaking such a plan, I'd go for constructing the pedestal
first (since I like round pedestal bases with hidden supports for when
the table has leaves added). Then the apron and slider mechanism. Any
fool can cut a circle :o) I would definitely get a look at what is in
good furniture stores for familiarity, find good instructions and check
with the instructor before proceeding. Let us know :o)
Some tables have painted bases and clear finish on tops, which would
likely allow for using softer woods for the shaping. Oak is hard.
We recently purchased a bedroom set made in Amish country; brown maple,
whatever version of maple that is. I tried to pound a nail into
birdseye maple once....HARD! This furniture is incredibly heavy and
sooooo nicely made...the tongue and groove joints are just as pretty and
finely made as the outer parts.
On Mon, 10 Dec 2012 03:07:08 +0000 (UTC), William Don**ly
If you really need to learn how to do make a table, by all means take
the class. But if you already know how, for $200 you could buy all the
tools you need to make one at home, as long as you dont buy real costly
A common dark wood is walnut, but there are others. As for the cost, go
to a local lumber yard and ask them. Newsgroups are not places to ask
prices, because they vary around the world.
For table sizes, go to a furniture store and take a ruler.
Dont forget, you'll need chairs to match!
Allow a minimum of 24" per person, 30" to be generous.
Consider width too...don't make it so wide that someone can't reach the
center from a seated position, 42-44" is common for rectangular tables.
Round tables are often greater than that in diameter, best with a lazy susan
As others have said, yes it is feasible. However, a lot depends on how the
class is structured.
One question though, why are you taking the class? Is it that you are not
confident of your woodworking skills? If that is the case AND the
1) will allow you to pick your own project,
2) does not feel the project is too large for the class (both room wise and
length of build time)
3) you are not going to try to get into anything fancy (assumning you are a
beginner) it could be done.
A better course of action is to read, hit the videos on Youtube, build a
trial project where you can hone your skills and then tackle the larger
project - always remembering the following
1) If it does not fit, back off, find out why and remake if necesary
2) When you rush, you screw up
3) It will take longer than you thought
4) It will cost more than you planned
5) In the coming years you will be amazed at both how well you did and
how you screwed up.
Go for it, life is too short not to grab on with both hands and shout, "Man,
what a ride."
I have the skills only because I took woodworking class in high school
(all four years) - but then - I became an electronics tech so all the shop
equipment I've bought since then has been radically different in character.
I don't have the equipment nor room for the equipment (unless I build a shed):
- Table saw (I have a chop saw)
- Router table (I have a router & bits, but I never used them)
- Band saw (I have a hand held power jig saw & circular saw)
- Drill press (I have a hand held power drill and bits)
- Disc & belt sander (I have a hand held power belt sander)
- Wood clamps (I have your basic foot-long C clamps)
I've been toying with the idea of buying the basic shop tools above
but then I'd have to build a powered shed in order to store & use them.
That's why the class seems most intriguing.
On Mon, 10 Dec 2012 17:49:14 +0000 (UTC), William Don**ly
The class is probably a good idea. You didn't state what area of the
country you're in but places like Woodcraft and Rockler (stores that
cater to wood workers) offer such courses, too. They have courses
targeted a little more specifically, too. In addition, some larger
metropolitan areas have a woodworking club or businesses that rent out
shop space and tools.
Probably not unless the classes are all day long, then "maybe" it would
be feasible if you know exactly what order to do things and there is no
learning curve to operate the equipment.
This is why good quality furniture is not cheap.
Probably least expensive, walnut but relatively soft compared to oak.
White Oak would give you a medium brown color and less likely to dent
Go to a local furniture store and pick the size you like.
No, nowhere near long enough. A wood working class will have good quality
tools but in limiteed supply. So the table saw will be occupied 99% of the
time. Ditto sanders, et c.
You don't say how long a class is, or how experienced you are with
cabintry but no, this won't happen.
Speak to the teacher of the class for a reasonable guesstimate.
Here is the class description:
Woodworking Techniques 101:
This comprehensive 12-session class is a complete course in woodworking
Each 3-hour class covers basic and fundamental woodworking concepts for both
the new woodworker & advanced techniques for the experienced craftsman.
Lumber may be purchased from the instructor or brought by the student
but only new lumber may be used on the school machinery.
Each student must choose a project by the third week.
Project grading will be based on safety, simplicity, form, and finish.
A $25 charge for materials is payable to the instructor at the first meeting.
3 hrs. sounds pretty good but that's class time. How much of each class
is actually shop time. Remember that you can't run the table saw during
Go talk to the teacher. Go look at the shop. Check out the equipment.
Remember that you can't use the pipe clamps if someone else has them.
I took a simple wood working course in grade school. Getting enough pipe
clamps was a pain. Scheduling time on the mitre box was a pain. I think that
was the point of the class. Machine shop class was the same. My grandfather
was a carpenter with a basement shop. Doing things in his shop was much
easier than doing things in a classroom shop.
The $25 shop charge for materials suggest a beginner's class and
beginners are slow.
On Mon, 10 Dec 2012 18:09:51 +0000 (UTC), William Don**ly
No way can you finish a table under those circumstances.
Are you taking the class to learn or just to use the tools? Two
weeks are just teaching and probably very little hands on except to
run a board through the saw. Now you are down to 30 hours total. Will
you be allowed to be ripping your wood while the teacher is showing
how to use a hand plane? Will you be able to clamp up your top at the
same time a dozen other students are trying to clamp up their TV stand
or bookcase? Will Norm be there to put in a brad to hold things
Take the class, but find a place where you can rent time on the tools.
My guess the teacher won't want you planing your wood in the big
planer while he is showing how to sharpen a chisel.
What finish? Walnut's lovely, but open grained, and needs
to be filled if you're using a varnish or lacquer. Figured
maple looks amazing with a dyed stain such as Transfast,
and will be much easier to finish.
For varnish, nothing better than Rockhard (Behlen's).
Phenolic resin base, cures tough and easy to rub.
I remember in my high school woodshop class 40 years ago that we
would turn the "U" curves of the grain the opposite way for each board
in order to keep it straight over multiple boards.
I was planning on doing the same if that's still the current
Then, I would outline the curved sides, and probably cut those with a
I'd router the top edge all around.
I'm not sure how to make the center pedestal but I'm likely going to glue
pieces together and then turn them on the lathe.
Again, that's how I would have done it 40 years ago - but I'm not sure
what changes have been made to shop equipment over the years.
Still the best way IMO. And not that much more expensive. For example, a
4x8 sheet of walnut ply can be had for less than $100. Select, surfaced 4/4
walnut lumber is less than $6/brd.ft so an equivalent amount of would be
about $180. However, if your table top is less than 4x8 you won't need an
equivalent amount and you won't have part of a plywood sheet left over.
Regarding rounded ends, someone mentioned the necessity of a router compass
jig. That's one way of doing it but there is nothing wrong with drawing a
line, cutting off with a sabre saw and smoothing the edge with a belt
sander. The edge can then be profiled to your liking with a router. The
resultant curve may vary slightly from end to end. So what?
In addition to other comments, I'll add that the project might be
physically too large for the class. I took an adult ed furniture
refinishing class years ago, and was told that the dining table I wanted
to refinish was too big. Not a time constraint as much as a size
constraint, as each participant was allotted 1/2 of a 30" x 8' work
table. I ended up just doing the leaves.
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