How to Make a Dining Table Expand

If you love to entertain a big group for dinner but do not have the space to keep a full-length table on display year round, why not make an expandable dining table? An expandable table is a practical choice if your family is small but you entertain a lot of friends and family on special occasions.

Expand Using Expandable Wooden Supports

The table can be kept for regular daily use at its smaller size, with 4- to 6-person seating capacity, and then expanded later on to allow 14 or more people to dine together.

Remove the wooden dining table top from the legs. This section is a tutorial for tables made of wood only. Go to Section 2 if you want to expand a dining table with top made of glass or ceramics.

Mark the center of your table, draw a straight line from top to bottom.

Cut the wooden dining table in half or along the line you just drew to ensure that it is centered. Use a table saw that can cut through a long length, adjusted to the thickness of the wood. Do this along the shorter length of the table if it is rectangular in shape.

Use a medium grit sandpaper to remove the splinters along the cut; sand until it is smooth. Then stain the edges with a finish to match.

Measure the length and width of the piece that would go to the middle, which will be the added leaf. The length should match that of the existing pieces if you are creating the leaves for a square or rectangular table. For round or oval table, measure the longest part, usually the very center of the table, which will be your basis for measurement.

Cut the piece of wood to be used as the table leaf. You can cut one piece at 30 inches wide or two pieces at 15 inches wide each. You can match the wood with the same type of material or use a 3/4-inch thick plywood and just stain it with the same finish later on. It is not really a must to match the wood grain and material because this piece will be hidden most of the time. You can cover it with tablecloth when in use to hide imperfections.

Measure the width of the expansion in the middle. Cut four pieces of 2 x 4-inch solid wood lumber based on the measurement leaving 4 inches on each side as overlap. These cut pieces will be used as wooden supports that glide in and out. Create a tongue and groove by carving the wood to allow the wooden sections to slide inside one another by a groove. Add metal tracks and track rollers for ease of operation. When the table is expanded, the gear glides out to expand, revealing the opening for the table leaf. Then, when you push the table back together, it should glide through smoothly to close.

Test out the expandable table and see how it operates. You may need to adjust the nuts and bolts for tightness or add more groove to allow for smoother gliding operation.

Expand by Creating a Bigger Removable Top

Create a removable table top that you can easily put on top of your existing table and then stow away when not in use. In this section you can expand the capacity of a glass top, ceramic top or wooden top table because you would not need to alter or cut the existing table. This type of technique is used by conventions centers, hotels and restaurants if they need bigger tables to accommodate bigger groups that want to be seated together.

Measure the width and length of the existing table. Based on this measurement, create a table top with added 18 inches on each side. If it is a square or rectangle, add 18 inches on all four sides. For round or oval table, add 18 inches to the whole circumference to create a bigger table top.

Transfer the measurement or dimension on a piece of plywood or MDF (Medium Density Fiberboard). Using MDF is ideal because it is light and easy to work with. The plywood is thicker and heavier but more sturdy.

Trace the shape of your new table top based on the measurement. For a circular shape, you can use a pencil tied to a piece of yarn. Measure the yarn same as the circumference of the table. Then holding the tip of the yarn in the middle, move the pencil around to draw the perfect circle. If it is too wide for you to handle, you can nail down the end of the yarn at the center of the wood, then move around while drawing the circle.

Cut using a circular saw or a jigsaw for round or oval tables; use a table saw for a square or rectangular table.

Use sandpaper to smooth out the edges.

Stain or paint the table top with the matching color of the other wood pieces on the existing table, or you can leave it unfinished if you are using tablecloth each time you entertain.

Try the table top for size and sturdiness. Depending on how large it is compared to the original table top, you may want to use additional support or clamps to keep it in place while in use to avoid toppling over. You may also use big strips of double-sided tapes or Velcro to hold it in place. Store when not in use.

Things You Will Need

  • Existing dining table
  • Tape measure
  • Pencil
  • Yarn
  • Plywood
  • Lumber
  • Sandpaper
  • Table saw
  • Circular saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Metal tracks and track rollers
  • Screws
  • Screwdrivers
  • Hammer
  • Nails
  • Wood stain
  • Clamps, double sided tapes or Velcro (optional)

Tips

  • Exact measurements from these steps were intentionally left out since tables are not created equal and your needs may vary. When you measure your existing table, make sure to allow 22 inches of space for each person to sit comfortably. Then multiply it with how many additional seatings you would like to add to get the total dimension, specifically the length and width of the table.
  • For more specific measuring details, see the links in the Resources section.

Warning

  • Use eye protection and work gloves when operating machinery.

About the Author

Josienita Borlongan is a full-time lead web systems engineer and a writer. She writes for Business.com, OnTarget.com and various other websites. She is a Microsoft-certified systems engineer and a Cisco-certified network associate. She graduated with a Bachelor of Science in medical technology from Saint Louis University, Philippines.