I intend to build a large farmhouse for my large family. My wife and I currently have 6 young children (3 biological and 3 foster). I know this thing will take some abuse so it does not have to be a masterpiece, just decent looking, strong, and functional. I am good at working with my hands as I do all my own mechanical work and I have done some construction but have never built anything like this before, so I'm hoping I can bounce some things off you folks and get some feedback. I don't know all the proper terms that I see written around these forums so keep in mind that I don't exactly speak your language, but I'm learning. Any help would be deeply appreciated!
My wife found these plans
and I've been studying them for quite a while. I am looking to build it 10'x4' so that we can seat 12; 4 along each side and 2 on the ends.
With such a long table, I am concerned that 2x4s won't be strong enough for the side aprons, but am also concerned that providing adequate leg room under a 2x6 would make the top too high. Should I just double up the 2x4s? Will a single be strong enough to keep it from bowing?
I'm thinking about deviating from these plans when it comes to attaching the legs. The plans have them built into the apron, but I'm thinking about making the apron separate and having the legs screw into it. I don't plan on moving within the next 5 years, but I would still like to think ahead in that way. In addition, the way the plans have this thing set up I would have to build it in my dining room as opposed to building in the garage and assembling in the dining room. Would it be adequate to screw through the apron and into the legs?
The only stores near me are the typical Ace Hardware and Lowes, and although I know many of you would cringe, I'm not really worried about using construction grade lumber for the apron/legs. I don't know of any other place to buy furniture quality lumber from and don't have the time to drive a long way to get any. On top of that, I'm trying to keep this project to a minimal cost.
With that in mind, Lowes has some nice red oak planks that I was going to use for the tabletop. They seem harder than pine and my wife and I like the grain. They have 1'x6'x10' pieces. Is 1" going to be thick enough? As for joining them together, I have read about using biscuits to glue them together but the thought of making a long cut down the center of that board makes me nervous! Is it safe to do this and expect good results? Would a table saw be ideal or should I use a router? I've recently started thinking about avoiding the biscuits and instead buying a router table to make a tongue and groove cut. This seems like it would be a better option to get a consistent result and I'm ok with spending the money on a router table, but I'm open to alternatives.
I keep reading about wood expansion and don't want to screw up in this area. Would I run into problems with that top by doing a tongue/groove and gluing it together? Will it be safe to attach the top by screwing through the under tabletop supports into the tabletop?
I would like to do breadboard ends. Is it safe to use a tongue and groove fit for the breadboard and glue it in? Actually, as I'm typing this it seems like I'm remembering a video where a guy was talking about wood expansion and not using glue. I've seen people drill holes through the breadboard and screw it into the ends of the tabletop but this terrifies me with just a 1" thick board. If I just made the apron long enough to support the breadboard would I have to worry about getting fancy with attaching it? What are my options here?
After the tabletop is glued together I've got a hand planer and a belt sander to make it smooth, and I will do my best, but again, we aren't looking for showroom quality.
I'm not sure what type of finish to put on it. I've used polyurethane to finish bedroom furniture but I'm not sure about using that for this project. My fear it would get scratched up and look terrible. I'm not so much worried about scratches and nicks in the wood itself, we have 6 young children for goodness sake and that's why I'm more concerned about function over form because I know it will take some abuse. Our bedroom furniture has a high gloss finish so it seems like that would just get scratched and dull, but maybe I should consider a polyurethane that isn't so glossy?
Thanks for any and all help!