How To Enlarge A Dining Room Table for Extra Seating

A dining table can be a big part of your dining room or kitchen. If you find yourself hosting a dinner party where you want to extend the table to make extra room for guests. Here is one way to do it.

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.

Here is an overview of how the extension top for my dining table was made.

After the last photo in this overview I have also included a detailed section with a description of how the extension top gets attached to the dining table as well as answer a few questions about the wood top.

Dining table with 6 chairs

My dining room table and chairs were handed down to me from my parents. The table doesn’t have center leaves to extend it, so my dad made a plywood top that comes out every Thanksgiving and stays up until Christmas.

The table extension top shown in the image above gets stored against a wall in my garage.

Take Note: See the vertical pieces of wood on the underside of the plywood table extension?  The space between them is the actual length of my dining room table.

When we have a need for a bigger table – for family birthdays, holidays and parties we get the extension top from the garage.

I first 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 snug right against the edge of the table.

What Does the Underside of the Table Look Like?

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.

How To Secure Extension Top On Table

To secure the top and add 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 my table looks underneath before the plywood extension top is placed on. Your table may look a bit different.

My husband putting the braces on.

This is how it looks when the braces are screwed on to the underside of the top.

The wood braces screw into the plywood extension top vertical pieces – 2 on each side, not the table itself.

Profile View of Table and Top

Here is a profile view of the top in place on the table.

Size of the Extended Table

The actual size of my dining 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 in my dining room.

Details 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.

Enlarged Table Set & Ready

I needed a place for 10 for Thanksgiving. But in previous years I have had 12 and even 14 people around the table.

Where to Find Extra Chairs If Needed

Since my dining room table only came with 6 dining chairs, I bring in stools I have along with my kitchen chairs.

You could also use benches and folding chairs.

Where To Get Large Tablecloths

Adding the wood top to provide extra seating at the table, also means I need to have a large tablecloth. It can be hard to find tablecloths long and wide enough for the large extension top. I usually buy wide fabric yardage to make my own tablecloths.

On a few occasions I simply used the yardage and didn’t even add a finished edge.

You can also check out this Dining Tablecloth Alternative That Looks Like Wood. It is super easy to do and very inexpensive.

This brown cloth is fabric yardage I found on clearance at the fabric store. I didn’t even hem the raw edges.  

DIY place cards: I made the place cards on my computer and used the font – Precious in 48pts.

Other Ideas to Enlarge a Dining Room Table

How Do You Enlarge a Dining Room table That is Round?

You can certainly use a similar concept by cutting a piece of plywood to a larger table diameter than your current table.

But what if you have enough room, how about making a new top for the table? That was exactly the concept we used in our new home with our round table. The original table was fine for my hubby and me but when we have extra guests, things got very crowded. The new round wood table top is perfect.

How About Extending Oval Tables?

Extending an oval table can be a little tricky. It will really depend on the dimensions of your original table. But I think the simplest approach to create a new tabletop would be a mix of both solutions above.

First you can create a new round table top and then cut it exactly in half. Then follow the directions above to create the rectangular table top for the middle section.

I would strongly recommend joining all three sections together underneath for stability. You can then use padding to ensure the durability of your original table surface.

With a little creativity, you can significantly extend your dining space without bringing in an extra table. The finished extension top doesn’t need to be perfect.

To see more entertaining ideas, table settings, tips, and tricks, head on over to my Table Settings gallery for all things Entertaining and Parties

More Dining Room Decorating Ideas

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