A man has improved his living space and impressed his wife by making his own version of an expensive dining table – for a fraction of the cost.
Gareth Smith, 38, has been spending lockdown polishing up his DIY skills, and he says his latest creation is his biggest and best project yet.
Gareth, who is a commercial insurance advisor from Derby, built a stunning eight-seater dining table in his garage – and it only cost him £45.
The idea came about through Gareth’s wife Frances – who had her heart set on a large, round table for the dining room.
After researching them online, however, she found that they were selling for an average of £800. But after putting in 40 hours of work, Gareth managed to build Frances’ dream table on a much smaller budget.
‘I’m a little tight when it comes to spending money,’ jokes Gareth. ‘I didn’t want to spend a lot on a round table, especially when we already had a perfectly usable rectangular solid oak table that had cost us a fair bit a few years ago.’
It helped that Gareth already had some impressive DIY experience. He had already ripping out and re-fitted the couple’s downstairs bathroom, and built two other tables for their home.
‘I am one of those people who will have a go at most things,’ Gareth told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. ‘Whatever I do, I will make sure it’s done perfectly and exactly how I would like it to be finished – even if that means it takes an extra week or even month to complete.’
Gareth started experimenting with woodwork during the first lockdown.
‘I saw lots of people making barrel tables on Facebook and thought, “I want one of those”. At the time they were selling for around £150, which seemed far too much to me, so I made one myself for £40.
‘Frances then wanted a coffee table in a similar style. Again, I was reluctant to buy one in case it made the room feel small and we wanted to get rid of it. I had a spare cable reel end left over from the barrel table, so I used it to make a coffee table.’
Upcycling another cable reel seemed like the perfect solution for the bigger dining table, but Gareth was unsure if he would be able find one large enough.
‘We wanted it big enough to seat eight people comfortably – 10 at a push,’ he says. ‘However, we also had to ensure we didn’t make a table big so that we couldn’t all fit around it.
‘We measured the room and agreed on 55”diameter wooden cable from – 60” would be the absolute biggest we could have had.’
The next job was finding the cable reel. Unfortunately for Gareth, they were trending among DIY fans, which pushed prices up to £30-£60 on Facebook Marketplace.
Eventually he found a pair of reels going for £5 each, and agreed to pick them up the next day.
‘At 2” thick, I hadn’t considered how heavy it would be,’ he adds. ‘I couldn’t pick it up on my own so ended up buying a dolly trolley to move it around.’
Problem solved, Gareth set about designing the legs.
‘I wanted something a little bit different,’ he says. ‘After searching around for ideas, I found what I needed while having a meal in a pub with my mum. We were seated at a round table so I thought I’d sneak a quick look at the table legs. I liked the design, so I took a quick photo to use as a reference.’
Gareth spent the bulk of the time – approximately 30 hours – sanding the table.
‘As cable reels are industrial items, they haven’t got the best finish. I know first-hand from the amount of splinters my wife had to dig out of my hand,’ he says.
‘Once I was happy with how smooth it was, I varnished it all over with a clear heat resistant varnish. I gave it two coats.’
Using his snapshot of the criss-cross design, Gareth started building the table legs.
‘The weight of the tabletop was a concern to me,’ he says. ‘I knew the legs needed to withstand its heavy weight. I decided on 4” x 4” timber for the legs and the 4” x 2” for the crosspiece. I measured the height of our existing table and made the legs so the overall height, including the tabletop, was the same as our current table.
‘For the cross piece, I used my router to take out half the depth of each cross piece, so the two pieces fitted together to form a cross. I cut a 45-degree angle in each end of the cross piece to give them a nice finish.’
The couple had used Frenchic chalk paint for other upcycling projects and were impressed with the results, so decided to use the shade Greyhound for the legs.
‘I gave them three coats and left them to cure for two weeks,’ he says.
Once the legs were ready, it was time to attach them.
‘I didn’t want any screws to be visible, so I attached small plates of wood on the top, which enabled me to screw the legs to the tabletop from the underside,’ Gareth explains.
‘We could not be happier with how it turned out. It’s ticked the box of being able to seat eight people, it cost very little and it looks stunning.
‘The numbers you can see on the table are unique numbers from when the cable reel would have been used for electrical cable – I wanted to try and keep those as I thought it added to the uniqueness of the table.’
Gareth even added a turntable by adapting a wooden pallet into a rotating circle aided by a simple mechanism bought on Amazon for £4.74.
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