A herringbone table is a beautiful design to add to your home. Custom made pieces of furniture easily run well over $300! If you can make something yourself, you can cut down those costs and appreciate the priceless value of your piece. Building your own furniture also allows you to customize your piece exactly how you like.
This type of table is complicated, and best done if you have experience with woodworking. For this build I made a coffee table, but you can apply the same idea to a table of any size. Because of how the edges were squared up, there’s no exact measurements but I aimed for a 2’x4′ coffee table with 19″ steel hairpin legs.
Build A Herringbone Table
- Plywood 2’x4′
- 4 Pieces of 1″x4″ Lumber
- 2 Pieces of 1″x2″ Lumber
- 3/4″ Brad Nails
- Wood Filler
- Wood Glue
- Wood Stain
- 2″ Brush
- Water Soluble Varnish
- Hairpin Legs 19″
Machines and Tools:
- Table Saw
- Biscuit Router
- Circular Saw
- Router Saw
- Pin Hammer
- Orbital Sander or Belt Sander
- Rubber Mallet
1. Measure and Cut
With your piece of plywood, determine where the center line will be. You are going to assemble the parque on top of the plywood. The centerline will be where the herringbone pattern comes together.
Once you find the centerline, determine how many pieces of 1″x4″ you need to cut at a 45° angle depending on the size of your table. For a 2’x4′ coffee table, you will need fourteen 17″ pieces of 1″x4″ cut at a 45° angle.
This part is going to be really important. You need to keep track of which pieces were cut from each other. Those pieces are going to fit together perfectly and make it much easier to line up your herringbone on the centerline.
For the rest of the smaller pieces, we will come back to that later.
2. Mount the Parque
After all the pieces are lined up and the centerline is as much in the center as possible, mount the pieces. Install biscuits in the body and where each plant touches.
Using the biscuit router, drill into the wood planks. Your slot for the biscuits can be bigger than the biscuits themselves. Adding wood glue later on will keep everything together.
3. Glue and Clamp
Glue the wood planks and biscuits and fit everything together. Clamp down the pieces to avoid warping. This will make sure that your wood surface is as flat as possible. Sometimes you will have a piece that is more raised than another.
While you can sand down these parts, it’s easier the more flat it is from the beginning.
4. Countersink Brad Nails
Using your brad nails, hammer in each wood plank. Try to be as symmetrical as possible, because you will end up seeing where these brads are when the stain is put on.
The picture above is exactly what NOT to do. We had a hard time countersinking the brads. If you end up punching a bunch of holes in your wood like this, you can always go back over it with wood filler. Ultimately, try not to damage the surrounding wood. Mistakes happen though!
The charm to building your own table is that it won’t be perfect.
5. Install Smaller Pieces
Using whatever is leftover from your cuts, fill out the rest of the table. Yes, it looks absolutely atrocious like that! We decided to let the pieces hang over the edge since it’s hard to get an exact cut with the table saw on small pieces.
6. Square Up the Edges
Now that you have your pieces attached, you need to cut the excess off. Using your table saw or circular saw, square up the edges.
You can see the brad nails poking out, that’s because we used the wrong size. It wasn’t a big deal, we sheared them off with a grinder. So if that happens to you, don’t worry.
Use the router to go back in and really even out the edges. If your edges aren’t straight, your frame is not going to sit right around the table. At this point, there were no corner pieces at the top yet. When you finish with the router, attach these corner pieces.
Since they’re so small, they will fling off from the force of the router.
7. Sand Everything
After attaching these small corner pieces, sand everything to ensure it’s straight and smooth. You can go ahead and sand the rest of the table as well at this point.
8. Attach the Frame
The frame is where you will use your 1″x2″ pieces. Measure the length and width to determine how long the frame pieces need to be. You will cut these pieces at a 45° angle to fit them together at the corners. Even though you started with a 2’x4′ piece of plywood, you cut off some. This is where the table becomes varying in sizes, but it’s okay.
When you add the frame make sure you install it with biscuits and glue as well. We went ahead with screws, too.
9. Add Wood Filler
Congratulations! At this point, you have a solid table top. The hardest part is over. Now, you simply fill in all the gaps between the wood, the brad nails, and wherever you find them. Check the instructions on your wood filler to determine how long it needs to set for. It also doesn’t hurt to test the filler with your stain to be sure it will stain correctly.
10. Sand and Stain
After you let the wood filler dry, sand the whole surface again. Make sure it’s smooth. This is where a belt sander really comes in handy. If you don’t have one an orbital sander will work. Just be careful to not let divots form.
Next apply the stain. The stain I chose is called “american classic” and it was more beautiful than I even expected. Just take a rag and wipe on the stain. You can do multiple coats depending on how rich you want the color the come out.
I added leftover stain to the bottom as well. I didn’t sand the bottom. This was to make sure there was no terribly stark contrast.
11. Add the Legs
Excuse my messy garage! At this point you can attach the legs. I found it was easy to apply the varnish to a standing table than to do it on a flat surface. Make sure to apply the varnish in a very well ventilated area since it can be pretty harsh to breathe in.
When you build a herringbone table, I also recommend putting down a drop cloth, this stuff is very sticky.
12. Apply Varnish
For this step, I used an oil based varnish. I recommend when you build a herringbone table to use a water based varnish. This is just for easier clean up and less hassle later.
Make sure to apply at least 3 coats. When you build a herringbone table, that’s this beautiful you don’t want it ruined! The varnish will protect from water and scratches.
If you end up with streaks and bubbles, you can go back in with steel wool to smooth out any roughness.
13. Admire Your Work
Congratulations! You built your very own custom herringbone table. Isn’t it so great to sit back and admire your hard work after it pays off? Yes it’s a lot of work and it’s time consuming, but the rewarding feeling after completely makes up for this!
Now get on with more woodworking projects. If you’re interested, learn how to build a live edge slab table as well.