After seeing the farmhouse tables outside in Waco, we decided to try building our own Magnolia Silos Outdoor Table. It’s a pretty simple DIY project!
Last year, about five months before Ruby was born, Chels and I took off for a little “baby moon”. We ended up making our way down to Waco for a quick trip to the Magnolia Silos – which we would recommend to any fans of Chip & Jo, HGTV, farmhouse style, or just DIY-ing in general! We had a great time and got lots of ideas to bring home for our own family – one of which was this outdoor farmhouse table. I’d just finished building a back deck for us (still working on that post – sorry!), and we knew we wanted a rustic table for outdoor dining, games, and just general gathering. When Chels spotted the big white tables outside Magnolia Market, she knew what she wanted. She asked if I could take a picture (below) and build one when we got home…and I agreed to try!
The good news was that the design of the tables was really simple – simple cuts and basic angles. When we got home, I sketched out the design from a couple of angles, and came up with some preliminary measurements. Chels decided that she wanted a couple of chairs for the head and foot of the table, so once she had those (which she found at Target), I had something to measure against.
The materials list for this one was very basic – it’s supposed to be rustic and chunky, so nothing too fancy going on here:
- (1) 8-ft 4×4
- (8) 8-ft 2×4
- (2) 8-ft 1×4
- (4) 8-ft 2×10
This doesn’t include the materials for the benches, which I kind of figured out after I had the table built. For the benches, you’re really just looking at a few more 2×4’s and two more 2×10’s. There should be enough of the 4×4 left over, as the sections of that used in the benches are really short.
The first thing to make out of this raw pile of lumber is these big beautiful, chunky legs. They are heavy duty, no doubt about it. Which is good, because those four 2×10’s for the top are not light. The assembly here is simple. You’re stacking 2×4’s and topping them with a 1×4, making that again, and then connecting them with a 4×4. The braces are 2×4’s, and all of the angles are 45 degrees. I used Gorilla wood glue and deck screws to put together the top and bottom, pocket holes and glue to connect the 4×4, and nails and glue to connect the braces.
There’s a finished side and a rough side, typically. I turned all of the best looking sides of my wood (including one of the big cracks in the 4×4, which I knew Chels would like) to the outside, where they would be seen. The rough side, which is also where I put the pocket holes, would be facing the inside of the table.
Now is probably as good a time as any to mention that I tried a tactic I have not tried before with this table, something I saw on Shanty-2-Chic’s site, which involves running 2×4’s and other lumber through the table saw to remove the mill’s round edge. Essentially, it makes this look less like the typically 2×4 project, and a bit more like a finished piece. It was a lot of extra work with my little table saw, but I liked the result.
I pre-drilled pocket holes in the “rough side” of my legs, knowing I would need them to attach to the top. I’m still rocking my little Kreg R3. One of these days, I’ll shell out the cash for a K4 or K5, but for $39, this thing is hard to beat. I used this little bad boy to build our built-in library, round farmhouse dining table, and our formal farmhouse dining table, too. Suffice to say…I’ve gotten my money’s worth. I also used the Kreg Jig to put a pocket hole in the bottom of my main brace (the 2×4 running the length of the table), which I reinforced with glue and nails from my nail gun.
Now, I’ll be honest with you – this was a messy way to do this. Setting the legs up, screwing them to the main brace, putting the top on, and then dropping in the angle braces…I don’t recommend it. When I built the benches, I did it differently, building the full brace (full-length and angled) separately, connecting the legs to the top, and then dropping in the completed brace. If I were to do this again, I would have done the table the same way. Much cleaner, much easier, much stronger. More on that later.
To connect the legs to the top, I used those pocket holes I drilled earlier. It was easy. You know what wasn’t as easy? Putting the top together. Unfortunately, I ended up with some warped 2×10’s. Thought I had done a good job of eyeing them in the store, but I guess…I didn’t. I used clamps, glue, and pocket holes to connect them together, almost exactly like I did for the formal farmhouse dining table top. The wood, however, was thicker, less manipulatable, and more warped. It was tough. Be careful when you’re picking out your 2×10’s.
We were going for a very distressed look here, and there’s a four step process that we typically use to achieve that. First, we stain it dark, using Varathane’s Early American wood stain, which gives the raw pine or fir a rich, deep tone. Next, we rub petroleum jelly all over the corners, edges, and a bit where we want more character across the legs and the top.
Here you can see the table in all it’s stained and jellied glory…and, correspondingly, the warped top. I will say that I’ve come to love this top as we’ve lived with it. The unevenness doesn’t really affect usability, but it gives an even more weathered feel to the surface. Would I have chosen to build it like this? Probably not. Do I mind it? No, I actually like it.
The last two steps in the process? Painting white and sanding. The petroleum jelly keeps the paint from setting up properly in certain spots, allowing the paint to sand off in chips, giving the finish a dramatically rustic, weathered look. More on this as we get into the benches a bit.
You may or may not actually want benches. Maybe chairs are your jam. For us, with the little ones running around, and the occasional guests joining us, we felt that imitating Magnolia’s benches was the way to go. The good news is that they’re simple, too. The legs, as you can see, are basically just 4×4’s sitting on 2×4’s. Again, the tiny braces are 2×4’s cut at 45 degree angles.
I mentioned earlier that I changed up my strategy for the big middle braces when it came to the benches, building the whole brace and then dropping it into the completed bench. I used pocket holes (above) to connect the angled brace to the long center brace.
To get the measurements right, I assembled the pieces all dry, no glue, no screws, making sure all of the lengths and angles were correct. Once I had that down, I secured the angled braces to the long braces, and then proceeded to to screw the legs to the bench top using pocket screws and wood glue.
With the legs screwed in place, and brace sitting between them, I dropped a bit of wood glue in where the braces touched the bench top and the legs, and screwed in the pocket screws. Suffice to say, these benches are SOLID.
Once the benches were all put together, it was time to repeat the four step “antiquing” / “distressing” process. First came the stain and the jelly…
Then the paint and the sanding. On the right, you can see the bench before sanding, and on the left, after sanding. You can see how the jelly gives you a random, natural-looking distressing.
And that’s it! Well, mostly. We decided to add a few coats of sealant to protect the table and benches, even though they were going to be covered. This is Oregon, and it’s…wet. Like, really wet. I would say the results were a little mixed. The sealant mellowed out the bright white of the paint, which was probably good, but it also caused some bubbling in the paint here and there. Nothing that was a dealbreaker, but I would recommend proceeding with caution when choosing and applying your sealant.
And that’s it! We’ve been using this table all summer, and it’s held up great! We’ve definitely eaten outside more this season than we ever have before, and I think that’s due in large part to having this great big, solid space on which to do so.
Chels finished everything off with some solar-powered LED lanterns (these are similar – the exact ones we bought are no longer available) and flowers, the aforementioned chairs, a color-coordinated outdoor rug, and a macramé runner. I like the way we finished this, in a distressed white, but you could just as easily leave it the natural pine or fir and shellac it for a cabin feel, or just stain it for a bit more barn-ish look. Is that a thing? Barn-ish? It must be, right?
I really am planning to blog the building of the back deck, too! I just need to get around to it. It’s a process! We have used this space so much this year, and even more now that we have a big, eight-foot table out there! As I always say, I am an absolute amateur here, and I’d welcome your feedback, questions, and tips in the comments. Hopefully, my learnings and mistakes here will be of benefit if you decide to try something like this yourself!