Herringbone Table

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I am SO excited to be sharing this post with all of you… it was a long time in-the-making and I have been so busy since we finished it I didn’t have the time to share yet! I had this idea in my head for this table months ago and when I knew my parents were coming up for the weekend a few weeks ago, I thought now would be a perfect time to make it. I have to start by telling you all how amazing my dad (I call him Sparky) is. He was so patient with me while I tried to vocalize the MANY ideas I had floating around my head and he took them all and combined them into a clear plan. He is a project manager at a welding company so he has the software on his computer that made designing this so much easier than it would have been otherwise! He helped up pick materials, did most of the work (my husband is self-proclaimed NOT handy and I like to leave it to the professionals lol) and didn’t even complain when he missed 90% of the Masters (which is a huge deal for him). He hates when I put his picture on here, so I’m sure I’ll be getting a text about that later (lol) but I want to give him as much credit as I can because we truly wouldn’t have been able to do this without him. I think it’s so cool that he’s able to take an idea, design it, figure out all the logistics and then build it. This table is seriously SO cool and I love that we all made it together, it was probably torture for my dad because he got stuck with the brunt of the work but I had so much fun spending the time with him building something. I’ll give the step-by-step picture tutorial but I will preface that by saying this was not an easy or quick project but I will brag that we gave Sparky a 150$ budget and he came in under it! Oh yeah, and did I mention he built it to fit over our existing patio table frame so we only had to make the top and it can be removed for storage in the winter months?? Long story short, Sparky’s the man!

Here is my inspiration board for this table:

Herringbone Table Inspiration


** Check out my post HERE to see how we decorated the table once it was done!**

Here’s what I knew I wanted all along: a new table for our back patio that was bigger than our existing one, incorporating a herringbone pattern in one form or another and some how making the table have a beachy feel. When my husband and I started our runs to the beach back up this year, on the way back home one run I spotted this tree and had to stop. I loved how light the wood was in contrast to the bright blue sky that day. Combine that with all the driftwood down at the beach we run to (and spend many days at in the summer) and I knew I wanted to go for a sun-bleached SUPER light (almost white) colored wood). I found a picture of a herringbone table on Pinterest and sent it to my dad so he knew what kind of pattern I had in mind and I LOVE the look of old school gym floors like the Brooklyn Nets have in the new arena. Also when we got married almost 3 years ago, Pottery Barn started coming out with all these beach themed items and I loved the tablescapes in the store.. we had registered for a lot of the things from there so I knew I wanted to incorporate those.

The first step was to put the design into my dad’s computer software to scale everything, decide on a pattern and make a list of what we would need to make it happen. When I said I wanted herringbone, my dad was thinking big zig zags… I meant a million tiny pieces to make the pattern look as impressive as possible. The first picture below is what he came up with, the pieces were much smaller than what he had originally had but large enough that we wouldn’t need a whole forest of trees to cover the table top. I had originally wanted the herringbone to just go one way all the way across the table (and after doing it, I would suggest keeping with that) but while my dad was copying one half of the table to paste it on the other, the pattern inverted and I loved it. I jokingly said “wait! I want to do it that way instead”, expecting him to say that was ridiculous but he said we could. You can see how we started building the design that way on my MacBook in the second picture, then how he scaled it into his program and got us our final design for the table in the third pic. Next, it was time to figure out measurements and make a list of supplies… I would explain how he figured out exactly how many pieces of wood we’d need for the over 200 1″ x 6″ pieces to make the herringbone but I have no idea how he did it lol.

Designing the Table

Next it was time to go to Lowe’s and get what we needed. It’s also worth noting that this was also the day my mom and I were going to see Rock of Ages so he had a little over an hour to get me back to the house… for all the decisions we had to make while there I was pleasantly surprised we got it all done with 12 minutes to spare! Here’s what we got:

– 4′ x 8′ sheet of 3/8″ plywood, cut into thirds (find it HERE)

– Four 1″ x 6″ x 6′ kiln-dried aspen boards (find them HERE)

– Two 1″ x 4″ x 6′ kiln-dried aspen boards (find them HERE

– Two 2″ x 4″ x 8′ pressure treated lumber (find them HERE)

– Two 16oz. bottles of Elmer’s Wood Glue Max (find them HERE)

– Two 3.25 oz. Elmer’s Stainable Wood Filler in Natural (find them HERE)

– 8oz. can of Rust-Oleum  Sun-Bleached Wood Stain (find it HERE)

– 8oz. can of Rust-Oleum Matte Finish Exterior Polyurethane (find it HERE)

My dad brought the saws, sander and tools… we had screws, nails and sand paper. Also, as I mentioned before, my dad built a frame for this to fit over our smaller existing patio table, so we were just building a frame and a table top… you would need brackets and legs if you wanted to build a whole table.

While my mom and I were at the show, my dad built the frame for the table and my husband graciously took a million pics for me which I REALLY appreciated! If you’re building a frame to fit over an existing table like we did, follow along with the pics below. Spark took the glass out of the middle of our existing table and flipped it upside down. Lay the 2×4’s along the edge of the table and mark where they need to be cut. The idea here is the 2×4’s build a frame around the existing table top, then that gets covered with the sheets of plywood and the whole thing fits snuggly over the existing table top. Cut the 2×4’s to size, and use a pocket joint or a regular drill to pre-drill the wholes and then secure the frame with 2.5″ coated deck screws. 

Building the Table Frame

Next step is to to add a layer that would cover the frame and then serve as the base for the herringbone design. Spark laid one of the thirds of the plywood down and lined the frame on top of it. Mark the edges and cut off the excess, then repeat with another piece of the plywood. Put wood glue all over one side of both pieces and then sandwich the two (glue sides facing). Place that on top of your frame and screw the plywood to the frame. Once you’ve screwed it to the frame, you may also want to weight the whole thing down while the wood glue dries… my dad stacked tires on top.

Plywood Table Top Base

Now you need to cut the strips that will be the pieces in the herringbone pattern. We decided cut the 1″ x 6″ x 6′ aspen boards into 1″ strips. Full disclosure, Spark cut about 206 of these and I cut two lol. Cut all four of the 1″ x 6″ x 6′ boards into strips, you’ll notice that they’re very jagged on the underside of the cuts… we just used a fine grit sanding block to smooth the pieces out. Next step is to dry fit the herringbone, which was all Spark’s idea and a good thing because we had to adjust the pieces several times to get it centered. If you’re not inverting the pattern halfway, this step would be MUCH easier! 

Dryfitting the Table

Once the table is dry fit and everything is where it should be (there will be 3 square gaps in the middle of the table where custom fit pieces need to be cut due to the inverting of the pattern), start from the center on one half and begin gluing the pieces down. Apply a generous stripe of the wood glue, and lay the piece on top of it. We found it easiest to a zig zag across the center line and then build out from there putting small pieces of painters tape at the joints of each piece of wood to stop them from sliding as the glue dried. Keep measuring the overhang on the sides of the table to make sure everything is even all the way down. Measure the two pieces to fit up against the center line to fill in some of those “square gaps”, you won’t be able to fill them all the way in until the other side of the table is glued in. Finish the other side of the table the same way.

Laying Down the Herringbone

Now you’re left with the herringbone pattern on both sides and weird rectangular gaps in the middle. I don’t know how spark figured it out, and it took a lot of trial and error, but he managed to get enough pieces custom cut to fit into these weird shaped gaps that weren’t square to begin with and closed the gaps in the middle of the table. The third pic in this next set is him putting in the last piece, that might have been the high point for him lol. 

Jigsaw Pieces for the Center of the Table

To trim the overhang on the sides of the table, take one of the 1″ x 4″ x 4′ boards and lay it flush with one end of the table. Use that as your guide and draw a line where the overhang will be cut off. Put a piece of wood on top of the table to protect it from being scratched by the saw (we used a scrap of the plywood) and cut the over hang off. Repeat for all 4 sides. Then take your 1″ x 4″ x 4′ aspen boards, measure them, cut them at 45 degree angles and nail them to the sides of your tale to serve as the border (we used 2 inch finishing nails). Once the glue has dried, you can remove the painter’s tape.

Trimming Table and Adding Sides

 Now it’s time to prep the table to be stained and sealed, which is easier said than done… especially because at this point the weekend was over and we no longer had Spark at our disposal. There are gaps in between the table top and the side boards so the first step is to seal those with the wood filler. The day after I sealed the gaps, Spark very graciously stopped on his way back home from a work meeting in town to bring his sander. You can see the tabletop wasn’t flush with the sides at spots and so he sanded the entire table so that it was smooth and level. After he left I resealed some spots, hand sanded the table one final time and vacuumed the entire surface with a soft brush attachment to get up any residual saw dust.

Prepping Table for Stain and Seal

By this point I was ready to get this bad boy stained, sealed and finished so I was ready to just start slapping the stain on. Thank goodness, I didn’t… I tested it out several times on the scrap wood first using different amounts and drying times. I was feeling overwhelmed because this was the last major step and my biggest fear was messing up the stain and ruining all my dad’s hard work haha. He was no longer in town and my husband was at work so there was no one to give second opinions (even though I sent them both sample pics, they weren’t coming across right in the pictures) so I just went for it. I ended up brushing the stain on in small sections, starting with the table sides first and wiping it off immediately. I wanted to stain it but I wanted it to be the least stain possible at the same time so this worked perfectly. It looked REALLY gray at first and my husband was really hesitant but by the next day when it had dried completely it had that perfect sun bleached look! The last step was three coats of the polyurethane and a seven day curing period and the table was finished!

Staining and Sealing the Table

 I cannot put into words how much we love the table… it’s been really nice here in New York so I’ve been working outside a lot on my MacBook and we’ve already enjoyed a couple dinners on it so far. I know that it will get A LOT of use this spring/summer and I can’t thank my dad enough for all his help in making this possible, love you Spark!