Custom Dining Table Benches
Custom dining table benches can be hard to get right because there are many factors around this type of build that need to be taken into consideration. The height of the custom dining table benches is a starter. And then usability and wear are a few others.
A dear friend of our families asked us to make these benches around their existing dining table. It was a farmhouse style table that was her dads with many memories built around it. So we had to make custom dining table benches that would match the existing table.
Current Design Considerations
One of the flaws with the current table build was the type of wood that was used. It seems to be made from Douglas fir. Douglas fir is a really fast growing wood and therefore is soft.
Fast growing woods tend to be unstable and move a lot.
The Douglas fir had many dings and dents in throughout. But one of the main concerns was the fact that the table couldn’t hold up to normal use. And they have 4 young kids and often invite people over. Food is a cornerstone for this family! My kind of people!
Theres nothing worse than having a custom piece of furniture that doesn’t perform well. Or serve a specific function. So needed to use a material that was strong, solid, but also had some weight to it. Weight in custom dining table benches is really crucial because benches can tend to tip or tilt over when people are moving on them.
Maple is always a great wood selection because it is incredibly durable and stable. But it can be costly for a young family wanting to have some custom furniture built. We ended up choosing number 1 hickory, for a few reasons.
Hickory is really stable and incredibly durable. In fact, hickory is used for a lot of wood flooring because of how well it wears. There are a few different types of hickory- ranging from clean and white to darker and more character. Each one serves a particular purpose.
These custom dining table benches were being stained to match the existing table color. So we didn’t want to go with a darker wood that would distract or take away from the coloring.
Number 1 hickory is light in color and very clean. There are very few knots or discolorations. We hand picked this specific wood out of the entire pile in order to maximize our clients money and to really make these custom dining table benches.
For the bench legs we went with Douglas fir. We utilized a specific cross bracing method to carry extensive load under full use.
At 7 feet, these benches can easily sit 4 people!
We built the benches with am upward camber pre-engineered into the bench top but also into the frame itself. This would allow the bench to not warp or “sag” under heavy load.
The paint selection was used from the prior table. This color is really fun. It really helps the farmhouse style to feel more fresh and modern. Multiple coats of paint were applied in order to get durability and wear. Theres nothing worse than having paint chip off a custom furniture piece!
We used a spar urethane, which is a penetrating style of finish. This was chosen for its low sheen and its incredible wear. These benches are sitting right in the main dining room with a ton of light. And can be seen from the front door when you first walk in the house.
This is why an extensive look and examination of the surroundings is so crucial to making a piece that your grandkids will be proud to own. There is nothing worse than seeing how dirty a piece is when you first walk in the house. With a busy family, this is a really common design flaw with most big box furniture. It’s not realistic to keep these custom dining table benches 100% clean all of the time.
Spar urethane also has incredible UV protection. Because hickory is lighter, it will soak up the sun and change in color extensively if not protected properly. We also wanted to protect the finish color that was applied.
Spar urethane is used on bar countertops where heavy food and water usage is seen. We were happy with the finish and the results we got applying over the color stain.
The stain was Minwax driftwood. 3 coats applied over a 180 finish really did the trick. A lot of woodworkers think you ha e to sand up to 220 and then apply your stain. But what happens is the higher you sand, in grit, the more closed off the pores are. Causing any color to barely penetrate and absorb.
There are 3 coats of spar urethane, each with 400 sanding in between coats. This was the first time using this Minwax particular brand and we were happy with how it turned out on these custom dining table benches.
The painted leg bases have 3 coats of latex paint. Most latex paints are surprisingly well made today and will suffice for most things. We considered adding a wax finish over the paint to really warm up the color but in the end decided against that for a variety of reasons.
The main reason being the maintenance lifetime cycle. Under use, paint will get scuffed and dinged and discolored. Having the ability to repaint at later times is crucial. And we realized that applying wax would not allow our client the ability to repaint at a later time.
The result in these custom dining table benches are pieces that delight and wow. And they really compliment the existing dining table. But these are benches that this family will own forever. There will be many conversations had and many memories made around these benches.
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