Build a Bar-Height Dining Table

Learn how to construct an expandable, bar-height table with storage for a small dining area.


This table is perfect for a tight dining space because it extends for extra seating and has plenty of storage underneath.

Materials and Tools:

two sheets of ¾-inch alder plywood for top and drawer facing
three sheets of ¾-inch medium-density fiberboard (MDF) for base and drawer frame
30 feet of 1½-by-¾-inch alder trim for facing
wood glue
iron-on alder-plywood edge banding
paint rollers and brushes
hinges and drawer slides
miter saw
precision-guided circular saw or table saw
speed square
nail gun with 1½-inch finish nails


1. Determine the dimensions of the table's base, drawer and hinged top and make a cut list for the wood. This is our cut list:

The base - all MDF cuts:

horizontal dividers - three pieces at 58½ inches by 16½ inches by ¾-inch
vertical sides - two pieces at 35¼ inches by 16½ inches by ¾-inch
vertical cubby dividers - three pieces at 19½ inches by 16½ inches by ¾-inch
back - one piece at 60 inches by 35¼ inches

Tabletop - all alder cuts:

tabletop at 60 inches by 38 inches by ¾-inch
two leaves at 10 inches by 38 inches by ¾-inch
Be sure the surface grains match up on the center tabletop and leaves.

Drawer - MDF and alder cuts:

drawer sides - two pieces of MDF at 16¾ inches by 8 inches by ¾-inch
front and back of the drawers - two pieces of MDF at 55 inches by 8 inches by ¾-inch
drawer bottom - one piece of MDF at 55¼ inches by 17 inches by ¾-inch
drawer face - one piece of alder at 57¾ inches by 12¾ inches by 3/8-inch

Alder trim pieces:

vertical sides - two pieces at 35¼ inches
horizontal dividers - three pieces at 57¼ inches
vertical cubby dividers - three pieces at 18 ¾ inches

2. Using your table saw and precision-guided circular saw, cut all the wood and MDF to size. Be sure the grain direction matches on the alder tabletop and leaves.

3. Attach iron-on edge banding around the perimeter of each piece of the alder tabletop.


4. Lay out and mark all the base pieces. Attach your top and side pieces with wood glue and 1½-inch finish nails. Add the middle shelf, attaching with wood glue and nails. Make sure your cubby lines are evenly spaced and install the three dividing pieces. Put wood glue where the edge of the cubbies will attach, but before nailing be sure to use a speed square to ensure that the cubby dividers are at 90 degrees. Nail the cubby dividers in from the top and bottom. Add the bottom and back pieces in the same manner.

5. Paint the entire base unit from the inside out.

6. Lay out the sides, front, back and bottom pieces for the drawer. Using wood glue and finish nails, assemble pieces. The drawer facing will go on after the sliders are installed.

7. Face the base piece with solid 1½-by-¾-inch alder trim. Measure and cut the alder starting with the perimeter. With wood glue and finish nails, install the 35¼-inch-tall trim to each side. Then install your top, middle shelf and bottom lengths of 57¼ inches. Measure and cut your lengths between the cubbies. This will vary based on your desire to have a rising lip or an overhang on your middle shelf. Ours was flush with the cubby shelf and had an overhang, giving us 18¾-inch-long trim pieces on the cubby divides.

8. Brush on a coat of shellac to finish-coat the alder facing.

9. Install the drawer-slider tracks. Ours were store-bought and came fastened with screws and hardware. Follow the manufacturer's instructions for installation. We installed the track inside the unit, then installed the guide rails to the drawer sides and finally slid the drawer guide track into the sliders.

10. The drawer should have an overhang around the perimeter. This is to allow for a custom-sized facing to go over the drawer front. Attach the drawer facing with wood glue and finish nails and add the desired hardware. Now your base is complete.

11. Attach the center tabletop piece. Cover the top of the base with wood glue, and then lay the alder tabletop down. Using 1-inch wood screws, secure the tabletop from the bottom.


12. Add drop-leaf hinges to the underside of the tabletop overhang. Attach the leaves to the hinges with the screws that came with the hinges.

13. Brush on a finish coat of shellac and let dry completely.

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