Every Thanksgiving my small dining room table that normally seats 6, gets extended to seat up to 14 with the help of a handy piece of plywood that my dad made many years ago exclusively for my table.
How to Enlarge a Dining Room Table For Extra Seating
Here is an overview of how the extension top for the table is made. After the last photo in this overview is a detailed description of how the extension table gets attached to the dining table.
My dining room table and chairs were handed down to me from my parents. The table doesn’t have leaves to extend it, so my dad made a plywood top that comes out every Thanksgiving and stays up until Christmas.
The extension top gets stored against a wall in my garage. See the vertical pieces of wood on the underside? The space between them is the actual length of my dining room table.
When we have a need for a bigger table – birthdays, holidays and parties we get the extension top from the garage. I cover the dining table with a blanket to protect it from scratches.
And the big extension top goes over the table.
The two vertical boards you can see on the underneath are spaced the exact length of the dining table so they fit right against the edge of the table.
You can see how the vertical pieces of wood look underneath the table when the top is placed on. Each end of the table has one of these vertical pieces that is snug at this point, but the extension top could slide side to side on the table.
For extra stability my dad made 4 wood braces that are screwed on underneath the table, not to the table itself, but to the vertical strips of wood on the underside of the extension top.
Note that each brace has a block of wood under one end. Ignore the screw holes on the left side of the braces, you will only need to use screws on the end with the blocks underneath.
This is how the table looks underneath before the plywood extension top is placed on.
My husband putting the braces on.
This is how it looks when the braces are screwed on. The braces screw into the plywood extension top vertical pieces – 2 on each side, not the table itself.
Here is a profile view of the top in place on the table.
The actual size of the table is: 36″ x 67″. The size of the extension top is: 40″ x 98″
Now my 5’ – 8” table is: 8’ – 1” long and 4” wider. It could have been made larger, but I wanted to still have ample room to walk around it.
Detailed Description on How to Make a Wood Extension Top to Enlarge a Dining Room Table:
Figure out how thick to make the vertical strips under the extension top and the wood braces:
You will have to determine how thick the vertical strips of wood on the underside of the extension top and your braces should be. This is determined by the thickness of your table. Measure the thickness of your table.
Example: If the table is 2 inches thick, the strips of wood on the underside of the extension top will need to be less than 2 inches thick. 1 inch thick will work. Half the thickness will be good.
The Extension Top:
The underside of the extension top has two strips of wood. The space between where these are attached to the underside of the extension top is the exact length of the table.
The size of the vertical wood strips on underside of extension top: The strips of wood should be a little shorter than the width of the table and need to be half the thickness of the table it itself. Again, as stated above: If your table is 2 inches thick, the wood strips underneath the extension top should be 1 inch thick.
When the extension top is placed over the table, the inner edge of these strips of wood fit snuggly against the end/edges of the table. 1 inch of the bottom edge of the table will be exposed since the table is 2 inches thick. This uncovered edge area is where the block of the brace will fit in.
The extension top is pretty secure at this point, but may slide, side to side- table width wise, but not length wise as the strips of wood underneath the extension top stop it from moving lengthwise on the table.
The Wood Braces:
If you look at the photo of the 4 braces in my post, you will see that on each one there is one end that has a block of wood glued on underneath.
You need to make sure that the height of the block of wood under the end of each brace is the same thickness as exposed section of what is visible on the edge of the table when the extension top is on. Following my example of a 2 inch thick table with 1 inch thick vertical strips under the extension top, you will see 1 inch of exposed edge on the end of the table.
The 1″ thick block end of the brace will fit right up to this with the flat end of the brace fitting right under the table.
How to Attach the Wood Braces:
To secure the brace with screws, you only need to screw in the block end of the brace to the strip of wood on the table top. 2 braces to each side.
Thanksgiving Table Setting Idea
I need a place for 10 on Thanksgiving this year. But in previous years I have had 12 and even 14 people although that was a little tight.
For extra chairs needed: I bring in stools and chairs from other rooms in the house. It is hard to find tablecloths long enough for the large extension top so I usually use fabric yardage to make my own.
I keep table decorations simple. Dollar Store leaves on the plates, pine cones I found outside for place cards, and some velvet ribbon to tie around the napkins.
I have Waterford wine glasses mixed with glasses from Pottery Barn that I bought on clearance.
I don’t usually do centerpieces because once the turkey is served it has to be moved. A few pumpkins and some bittersweet branches look seasonally festive and are easy to move once the turkey platter comes to the table.
Candles at each end are usually all that stay in the center of the table so that there is plenty of room for all the food and drink.
I placed bubble glass drinking glasses on top of metal candle holder bases and then placed candles inside. I love the way the glass looks. When Thanksgiving is over – they will go back to drinking glasses.
DIY place cards: I made the place cards on my computer and used the font – Precious in 48pts.