before and after

before & after: herringbone wood dining table

by Kate Pruitt

I felt a wave of excitement when this beautiful table makeover landed in my inbox. I’m not a woodworking expert, but I am always looking to try out new techniques. I’m absolutely determined to make myself something using Sarah’s awesome herringbone design. Sarah Summers and her father, a self-taught carpenter, worked together to modify an old door into a custom table that will last for years. They managed to put the whole piece together for around $150, which is impressive for any kind of large dining table, but for a table that looks this good? Wowza. Great job, team Sarah! — Kate

Have a Before & After you’d like to share? Shoot me an email with your images right here! (Low res, under 500k per image, please.)

Read more about Sarah’s herringbone wood table after the jump!

Time: 2 weekends

Cost: $150

Basic Steps: I recently finished graduate school and moved away from 6 years of college living. The one piece of furniture I never seemed to acquire was a dining table. So, when it came time for me to find one, I knew I wanted something special. I hunted yard sales, antique stores and fleas, but never quite found what I wanted at the right price. So I was delighted when my dad, an amazingly skilled and self-taught carpenter, offered to help me build one. The design was collaborative between the two of us, as was the construction — but I must admit, this was no novice project. Without his direction (and shop full of tools), I would have been one lost woodworking soul.

In order to keep costs down and be as eco-friendly as possible, we tried to get creative and use re-purposed materials for the table. The base for the table top is actually an old oak door that was purchased for $30 at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. We cut the door down to the size we wanted and gave it a light sanding. Then we started laying the herringbone pattern; this idea [was] spurred from boxes and boxes of ash wood strips that my dad found while cleaning out a friend’s wood shop. Thinking they’d make a great table top, he saved them and we sketched out the design. Each strip was individually placed with glue and an air pin gun (this took almost a whole day!). We then trimmed the excess off the edges and used a belt sander on the top. We also paid to run the table top through an industrial sander ($25) to ensure it was completely even. Final steps on the table top included filling gaps, as the strips didn’t always fit together perfectly, and using an orbital sander to get it silky smooth.

The table’s base is made of oak plywood, found for only $10 due to some minor surface damage. We weren’t able to recycle any materials for the side edging, thus the ash lumber we purchased for that makes up a large portion of our costs. The biggest dilemma for this table was selecting a stain. I had my heart set on something dark, but I didn’t want to hide the wood grain or the herringbone pattern. We eventually ended up deciding on a gel stain and although it turned out beautifully, it was very difficult to achieve even coverage and I wouldn’t recommend it.
Using re-purposed materials was incredibly satisfying, and this was such a fun father/daughter project. I will have this table for the rest of my life, and it will undoubtedly be passed down through the generations! I feel so lucky to have such an awesome woodworking mentor and will definitely be using my newfound skills for future projects. — Sarah


Suggested For You


  • This table is absolutely FANTASTIC! There is a certain soft spot for anything wood, and another for anything handmade.

  • The result is stunning. How fabulous that you had such a great mentor/woodworker to work with!

  • This sure is no easy diy project but it’s beautiful AND it repurposes existing materials! Yay!

  • A huge thank you to Design Sponge for the post and to everyone else for all the wonderful comments :).

  • That is sooooo awesome guys! I am so glad that it made it through your move and that you are able to enjoy the table for a REALLY long time!!! I hope you are getting used to your new surroundings and can’t wait to see and hear all about it!!!! LOVE Y’ALL!!

  • It turned out FABULOUS!! Love Restore. Got my own sliding closet door to replace a too small bar top for $20. It feels good to not pay an arm and leg to make what you really need. Great job!

  • @Frank a local lumber supply shop happened to have a large, automatic belt sander that we just fed the door through. I think these are common in lumber stores/yards.

  • This was a great project for Sarah and I, we both enjoyed the time in the shop even though most days were above 100 degrees. Acquiring some of the materials at the Habitat ReStore was a great idea, we should all think to use them more often when we can, up to this point I had only donated items. Laying the strips out really wasn’t that difficult, just time consuming, and a little stretch on our patience as any small variance in the strips became an issue later in the pattern so we were constantly “adjusting”.

  • In a few years when the evil Asian ash borer has killed all of the ash trees, this table will be even more valuable.

  • While I really like the table, I love the artwork in your ‘after’ photo. Can you give me any information you have on the artist? Thanks!

  • this is simply amazing. And I love that this was a father/daughter project cause it adds to the sentimental value for future generations.

  • this is so stunning. brilliant idea and execution!

    i have a little woodworking question – did you have to cut a groove or anything into the wood along the sides of the table to accommodate for when the wood expands? i know in herringbone floors (any wood floors actually) that’s what the tongue and groove is for. but i’m assuming the wood strips you guys used didn’t have that, so i was curious if you had to compensate in another way.

  • What an awesome dad!! Nice work, you’ll always have super memories of that process.

  • I love love love this table – wow! And am super impressed! Will definitely be sharing this one on one of my DIY blog posts! Thanks for the amazing share,

  • @Annie H the piece behind the table is actually one that I did myself. Though it’s primarily a hobby, feel free to link through to my blog above and message me if you’re interested in something. Thanks again to everyone for all the wonderful comments, I’ve been smiling all day!

  • BEAUTIFUL table, it reminds me of pictures I have (somewhere) of a table that was made for a family on Extreme Makeover Home Edition. My son feel in love with the table and said someday he will make one of his own! I will have to forward this table to him as well!

  • Just superior. I REALLY like your choice of wood, too. What a great heirloom you and dad have created together.

  • @AB, actually the tongue and groove on wood floors is to lock the individual pieces together. A gap is left around the edge of the floor to allow some movement of the wood/house. With this project the base is a very stable product(2″ thick particle board based door), the strips are well seasoned(10-15 years old), and they were glued and pin nailed to the door. The edging was attached to the top with biscuits, glue, and pocket screws every 12″ from the backside. And we used quality kiln dried lumber for the edging from a reputable source, so I expect very little movement. Not saying there won’t be any, but in the many projects I have done I see very little. The groove around the edge of the top is more for aesthetics to give a nice break between the pattern and the edging.

    @Heather, I would love to make some flooring in the pattern, mine first though… :)

  • this leaves me speechless (quite an achievement!!!) – what a WONDERFUL idea by your dad and what a terrific outcome – i think i’ve never seen money better spent than here. and you’re right, this table will be the new heirloom for generations (one hopes!!!)
    thank your dad from me and give him a kiss from a swiss wood fan and thank YOU for sharing this beauty with us! Bon appétit!

  • Such an amazing and unique piece!

    And I’m so glad you got to share this experience with your dad. I have many happy memories of working with and learning from my dad while we renovated (and decorated!) my first house.

  • Can’t wait to see what you two come up with for the next project! (I’m thinking a headboard or a coffee table). I’m so proud of you both and thrilled that you did this together! Thanks to everyone here for the compliments and kudos! It put a big smile on my face as well! I’m a proud momma and wife!

  • What a wonderful idea and how special that Sarah & her dad did it together. Makes it even more special.
    It is always so nice to see something like this. A lot of love put into this table – something you can’t buy for money!

    Have a lovely weekend and thanks for sharing this.

    x Charlotta
    Space for Inspiration

  • I would love to know how the legs were attached to this table. They look quite thin but obviously stable enough to support the heavy top. Just wondering how.

  • I’m sitting here barefoot because this table just knocks my socks off !!! Just amazing.

  • @BJON, the “legs” are 3/4″ plywood doubled up(glued), then edged with Ash. There is a piece of 3/4″ ply that is screwed and glued to the top of the section(looks like a T from the side) that is then screwed to the bottom of the table. The “legs” can be removed this way for transportation. It’s actually quite sturdy.

  • Looks like it would cost $10,000 from one of those chic handmade wood furniture stores that are all around upstate NY…all I can say is WOW!

  • I’m getting tired of hearing about the ‘new’ trend of herringbone, even though it’s been around forever…BUT!!!!! WOW!!! This is absolutely beautiful and an exception to my anti-trend mentality. What an amazing piece of woodwork that you can treasure and pass down through your family. You and your father should be so proud!

    I do have a question for you though. Could you please let me know what brand and shade of gel stain that you used? I have a few refinishing projects going and that is the perfect color that I have been searching for to no avail.

  • @Nate, I’ve wanted to do a herringbone project for years. I considered cutting the 16×16 travertine tiles in my master shower into strips and doing a herringbone pattern there, then I thought about how much work it would be, and the amount of grout and decided a against it…

    The stain is “General Finishes”, Java is the color, it was purchased at our local Woodcraft store.

    My Neighbor brought me 3 more boxes of the ash strips that he had taken from the estate. We have materials for another project now….

  • This just made my day! I’ve actually been bothering my woodworking to help me build a dining room table – and yours is absolutely amazing!

    Any chance you could tell me where your ash strips came from and what size they are? Thanks for the inspiration!

  • This is awesome.

    A stupid question… How did you fill in the “gaps” between the ash strips?

  • @Carrie, the strips came from the collection of a deceased friend and neighbor, he was a wood worker and collected an assortment of things over the years. I was honored that his children enlisted me to help we the liquidation of his shop. They are 1″ wide, 1/4″ thick, and I think about 8″ long.

    @ RobC we used Famowood, I’ve used it for years, it takes stain nicely. It was a little thick initially and Sarah struggled with it, and used alot of product. I ended up scraping the dried product off of the surface, mixed it with some acetone and thinned it up some, made it much easier to apply for Sarah.

  • What a fantastic redesign! Sarah must have some design experience, and that, teamed with her father’s carpentry experience, have created a fantastic new table.

  • Has your dad ever considered adopting?? (No college money needed…I’ve already finished!) ;) I really adore this table! I had same question as Rob C (not dumb question Rob!) so thank you for answering and sharing fabulous creation.

  • OMG! That is such an awesome idea and seems so simple to do! I’ve never thought of using a door to make a table but I can’t help but think of the nice wood table I got ride of b/c of the water rings cups left on it..I wish I would have seen this before I did b/c I would have loved to keep the table and just redo it! So impressed and what great thinking!

  • Wow is that a beautiful design..something more modern to me..and getting more into it..wish you can make me one..would love to have it…

  • Definitely a table worth keeping for a lifetime! That was such a brilliant project. Gorgeous dining table indeed.

  • The table has been transformed from a dull table top to a stunning piece of furniture, you must be Sarah must be over the moon with the final product!

  • I love your style and this is a wonderful idea, give us more tips in this year that is begging this a great place where we can learn a lot of good thing, thank you for shared your talent to us. Have a Happy New Year !!!

  • Well done Sarah! Great inspiration to turn this table around. You have just given me an idea with an old table of mine. Thank you

  • Hi guys, great looking table! I have one technical question: Are you at all concerned about the expansion of the wood? I’ve wanted to do a herringbone table but it seems that the herringbone pattern would develop warping or cracks as the wood expands and contracts seasonally.