How to build rustic tables from oak

Updated February 21, 2017

A rustic oak dining room table in either a rugged farmhouse style or with a clean, sleek finish will encourage your guests to linger over dinner. Trestle tables date back to the Middle Ages when they became popular because they could be easily dismantled and stored out of the way during battles at the castle. Today's trestle combines form with function, and making one by hand can aid in making today's home truly your own castle.

Carve a slab of oak to make it 36-inches by 72-inches. If you can't find a slab, glue together pieces of 3/4-inch oak, alternating the direction of the rings with each piece. Clamp the wood together, or use biscuit joints to join the pieces.

Finish the edges by either using a drawknife or a hand planer for a rugged look, or use the table saw for a sharp edged finish.

Sand the top carefully.

Cut the newel posts to the desired height.

Attach a corbel on each side, angling an 8-inch lag screw into each. Make certain the corbels and the end of the newel are level. Use a corbel that is at least 10-1/2 inches long to make the table stable.

Cut the stretcher bar to length and attach it between the newel posts by screwing a lag screw through the post and into the stretcher bar. Plug the hole with a dowel rod, leaving the dowel exposed 1/2 inch.

Cut two 12-inch square leg plates out of 3/4-inch wood.

Attach the leg plates on top of the newel post using 3-inch deck screws.

Turn the table top over and draw a line around the perimeter, 3 inches from the edge.

Cut twelve 1-by-2-by-8 inch pieces. Attach them on their flat side to the underside of the table using 1-1/4-inch deck screws. Space these cleats along the inside edge between the spots where the legs will attach.

Mitre the edges of the 1-by-4-inch pieces, which will form the apron around the perimeter of the underside of the table. Set these pieces in place outside the cleats and secure in place with screws.

Set two 2-by-4-inch stringers on edge between the apron pieces where the legs will be installed. The ends of these stringers should butt up on the long sides of the apron. Secure in place with 3-inch screws.

Center the legs and affix with 1-1/4 inch deck screws.

Turn the table upright. Fill any holes with wood putty. Sand the table completely. Stain and seal.

Things You'll Need

  • Oak beam, 3/4-inch thick by 36 inches by 72 inches
  • Carpenter's glue
  • Table saw
  • Clamps
  • Biscuit joints
  • Drawknife
  • Hand planer
  • Sandpaper
  • Two newel posts, 27-1/4 inches to 31-1/4-inches high
  • 4 corbels, at least 10-1/2 inches long
  • 8-inch long lag screws
  • Drill
  • 1-by 2-inch by 96-inch handrail stretcher
  • Two 5/8-inch by 2-inch dowels
  • Piece of oak, 3/4-inch thick by 12 inches by 24 inches
  • 3-inch deck screws
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Three 6 foot lengths of 1-by-4-inch wood
  • 1-1/4 inch deck screws
  • 2-by-4-inch stringers, cut to 30 inches wide
  • Mitre saw
  • Wood putty
  • Stain
  • Sealer
  • Paintbrush or cloth
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About the Author

Becky Lower began writing professionally in 2004. Her work has appeared in "elan" magazine, a northern Virginia publication, "Good Old Days" magazine, the "BGSU Alumni" magazine and on the website Lower has a Bachelor of Arts in journalism and English from Bowling Green State University.