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How to Build a Farmhouse Table (Post #3 – Making Table Aprons)

How to make apron pieces for a Farmhouse Table (Harp Design copycat) - theprojectlady.com

This post is part of a series of posts for building a table out of raw lumber.  See my original post that introduces the table and all posts for the series – How to Build a Farmhouse Table (Harp Design copycat).

See my previous post about how I added hanger bolts to the legs for making them removable.

In this post I will be showing how I made the apron pieces for the table and joined them together.

For this project you will need:

-table saw

-jointer/planer if your wood isn’t square and/or the thickness you want

-hand drill + bits

-drill press and 45-degree drilling jig from previous post

dowel jig + dowels (or joining method of your choice)

-glue

-1″ wood screws x16

-long wood clamps (pipe clamps are a good option)

For attaching the tabletop to the aprons you will need:

offset furniture clips (I used 1/2″ but any size would do)

-biscuit jointer (for cutting slots)

What size do you make your apron pieces? You’ll do this by drawing out the size of what your table top will be (mine is 44″ x 84″) and how much you want your top to overhang from the legs (mine overhangs 3″).  To get my long apron piece I would take the length of my top (84″) and minus the amount of overhang (3+3=6″).  I’m left with 78″ and will need to take away the thickness of the legs (3.5+3.5=7″) which gives me 71″.  You’ll do the same math for the shorter apron pieces.

To figure out the length of the two center stretchers you’d take the width of your table top (mine is 44″), minus your overhang (3+3=6″) and how much your aprons will be inset from the legs (.5=.5=1″).  That leaves me with 37″ but I still need to take away the thickness of the long aprons pieces (.75+.75=1.5″), leaving me with a total of 35.5″.

I wanted my apron pieces to be 3″ tall and the center stretchers and corner brackets for the legs to be slightly shorter, around 2-3/4″.

Cut all your pieces according to your sketch, but before you do, double check your math a few times just to be safe!

Use your dowel jig to drill 2 holes in each end of your center stretchers according to whatever size dowel you will be using.

**From here on out, everything we do with the apron pieces will be oriented upside down for ease of lining up all the boards flush against the work surface so it will be flat for attaching the table top**

Mark on the insides or your long apron pieces where you want your center stretchers to be.  With dowel center finders in the ends of your stretcher pieces, press them over the line to mark where to drill for the other end of the dowel.  Consider that your apron is about 3/4″ thick so you’ll want this end of the dowel to be about 1/2″.. meaning, the end that goes into the center stretcher may be longer.

Use a drill press to drill the 8 holes on your long pieces.  TIP: set a stop depth to avoid drilling through the other side.

Now is the ideal time to make slots on the inside of your apron pieces for your metal clips that will hold the table top down (unfortunately I didn’t do this until after I assembled so it was a struggle to get them as close to the corners as I wanted.  I did about 6 slots along each long apron, 3 on the short and 2 on each side of my center stretchers.  You want to get the slots that will be close to your legs as close to the legs as possible (avoiding where you’re corner brace will go of course).  TIP: Work on a test piece to get the height and depth of slot *just* right.  You have to think when screwing your table top down, you want there to be tension between the apron and top – I added just enough cardstock (+1/4″ ply) under my biscuit jointer to get me the perfect height/amount of tension.

Sand all your pieces up to 150 grit.  Sand all pieces that will be on the inside with 180 grit.

Dry fit your pieces to ensure the fit is good, particularly that the dowels fit in the holes.  Glue your dowels in the ends of center stretchers and tap into place with a rubber mallet.  Finish off the ends with more glue and the holes where the other ends of dowels will go.

How to make apron pieces for a Farmhouse Table (Harp Design copycat) - theprojectlady.comClamp the center stretchers in place to dry.  While drying I set up my legs and other pieces to ensure everything was squared while drying.

At this stage, with the legs and apron pieces set up you can measure the length of wood you will need for your corner braces.

How to make apron pieces for a Farmhouse Table (Harp Design copycat) - theprojectlady.comVERY IMPORTANT: You will want to keep a space between your leg and corner brace to ensure you can tighten the leg appropriately.  You can imagine if you made everything perfectly flush, you may not be able to tighten the legs up very well.  To ensure I kept a space I used a few washers on the bolt hangers to keep the space open for the next several steps.

When making the first corner brace, make it longer than you think and cut off excess little by little until it fits just right with your apron and legs.  Make your remaining 3 the exact same size.

Mark holes in the center of each corner brace and the exact placement of the bolts on your legs.  Drill out with a bit slightly larger than the thread on hanger bolts.

To see where to add holes for screws on corner brace, set your screw over the top so you can see a good placement and dept.  I marked where I wanted the head of my screw to be so I could countersink appropriately.  TIP: Place the screw on the ‘meatier’ part of the corner brace rather than the delicate pointed edge.

Continue your line all the way down the front side from the top where you marked your screw placement.  Make this same line on the remaining sides of your corner braces.

 Use your handy 45-degree jig to help drill into your braces.  Set your depth stop to countersink for your screw heads.  I’m using a 3/8″ forstner bit, but a regular bit will work too.  Do this for all 4 holes on each brace.

Switch out to a regular bit to make pilot holes for your screws.

Now you can set everything up, including bolting legs onto corner braces (make sure spacer washers are still in place to hold the gap between legs and corner brace) and use clamps to hold in place where needed.  Continue your pilot holes through the apron pieces, ensuring not to go through the other side.

Drill screws in tight!  After everything is joined you can remove the legs+spacer washers and set everything aside while you work on the top if needed or you can use your table base as an extra working space for the table top build.

– Stay tuned for the next post to see how the table top is glued together using dowels –

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