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DIY Hero Recreates £800 Dining Room Table for £45

  • Gareth Smith, 38, made the eight-seater dining room table in his garage for his wife Frances
  • Upcycled a £5 wooden cable reel, built the legs from scratch and added a turntable for just £4.74
  • Says he “could not be happier with how it turned out”


Being able to build your own versions of furniture you’ve seen in the shops for significantly less is a valuable skill to have.

Step forward Gareth Smith, 38, who has been spending his spare time putting his DIY talents to the test. The Commercial Insurance Advisor who lives with his wife Frances in Derby, has already built a barrel table and a coffee table, but his latest dining room table project is his biggest and best yet.

The idea came about when Frances had her heart set on a large, round table for the dining room. After researching them online, however, she found that they were selling for an average of £800. By taking some design initiative, and putting in 40 hours of work, Gareth managed to build Frances’ dream table on a £45 budget.


“I’m a little tight when it comes to spending money,” jokes Gareth. “I didn’t want to spend a lot on a round table, especially when we already had a perfectly usable rectangular solid oak table that had cost us a fair bit a few years ago.”

After chatting through ideas, Gareth offered to build one from scratch. It helped that he already had some impressive DIY experience under his belt, including ripping out and re-fitting the couple’s downstairs bathroom.

“I am one of those people who will have a go at most things,” Gareth told money-saving community LatestDeals.co.uk. “Whatever I do, I will make sure it’s done perfectly and exactly how I would like it to be finished – even if that means it takes an extra week or even month to complete.”

Gareth started experimenting with woodwork during the first lockdown.

“I saw lots of people making barrel tables on Facebook and thought, ‘I want one of those’. At the time they were selling for around £150, which seemed far too much to me, so I made one myself for £40.


“Frances then wanted a coffee table in a similar style,” he says. “Again, I was reluctant to buy one in case it made the room feel small and we wanted to get rid of it. I had a spare cable reel end left over from the barrel table, so I used it to make a coffee table.


“To my surprise, we still have it four months later and both wonder how we survived without one after all these years. After these builds, I was confident that I could make the dining table just how we wanted it.”

Upcycling another cable reel seemed like the perfect solution but Gareth was unsure if he would be able find one large enough.

“We wanted it big enough to seat eight people comfortably – 10 at a push,” he says. “However, we also had to ensure we didn’t make a table big so that we couldn't all fit around it.

“We measured the room and agreed on 55”diameter wooden cable from – 60” would be the absolute biggest we could have had.”

The next job was finding the cable reel. Unfortunately for Gareth, they were trending among DIY fans, which pushed prices up to £30-60 on Facebook Marketplace.

“The one I had bought earlier in lockdown cost £10, although that was a 36” diameter reel,” says Gareth. “We had been looking for about a month, watching the prices fluctuate up and down. One evening, Frances spotted a gentleman from the next town selling 55” cable reel ends for £5 each. We thought it was a bargain, so she arranged for me to go and collect one the following day.


“At 2” thick, I hadn’t considered how heavy it would be,” he adds. “I couldn’t pick it up on my own so ended up buying a dolly trolley to move it around.”

Problem solved, Gareth set about designing the legs.

“I wanted something a little bit different,” he says. “After searching around for ideas, I found what I needed while having a meal in a pub with my mum. We were seated at a round table so I thought I’d sneak a quick look at the table legs. I liked the design, so I took a quick photo to use as a reference.”

Gareth spent the bulk of the time – approximately 30 hours – sanding the table.


“As cable reels are industrial items, they haven’t got the best finish. I know first-hand from the amount of splinters my wife had to dig out of my hand,” he says. “I started with a belt sander on grit 40, 80 and then 120. I then hand-sanded it using 240 and 320 grit until it was smooth all over. Once I was happy with how smooth it was, I varnished it all over with a clear heat resistant varnish. I gave it two coats.”

Using his snapshot of the cross-cross design, Gareth started building the table legs.


“The weight of the tabletop was a concern to me,” he says. “I knew the legs needed to withstand its heavy weight. I decided on 4” x 4” timber for the legs and the 4” x 2” for the crosspiece. I measured the height of our existing table and made the legs so the overall height, including the tabletop, was the same as our current table.

“For the cross piece, I used my router to take out half the depth of each cross piece, so the two pieces fitted together to form a cross,” he says. “I cut a 45-degree angle in each end of the cross piece to give them a nice finish.”


The couple had used Frenchic chalk paint for other upcycling projects and were impressed with the results so decided to use the shade Greyhound for the legs.

“I gave them three coats and left them to cure for two weeks,” he says.

Once the legs were ready, it was time to attach them.

“I didn’t want any screws to be visible, so I attached small plates of wood on the top, which enabled me to screw the legs to the tabletop from the underside.


“We could not be happier with how it turned out,” says Gareth. “It’s ticked the box of being able to seat eight people, it cost very little and it looks stunning. The numbers you can see on the table are unique numbers from when the cable reel would have been used for electrical cable – I wanted to try and keep those as I thought it added to the uniqueness of the table.”

Gareth even added a turntable by adapting a wooden pallet into a rotating circle aided by a simple mechanism bought on Amazon for £4.74.

“The project cost £45 in total, which included the wood for the legs, the chalk paint and the varnish. Around 40 hours of work went into it table from start to finish, but this doesn’t include the drying time of the varnish and curing time of the paint.”

Frances shared a photo of the table triumph to a DIY fan group on social media, which attracted 4.7k reactions and 498 comments – much to Gareth’s surprise.

“The response has been crazy – I still cannot quite believe it,” he says. “I’m very humbled by all the nice comments. I could have never imagined my dining table would get this reaction.

“Covid-19 has put a stop to our many social gatherings with family and friends, although the silver lining is that we’ve completed lots of DIY projects over the past 10 months while being stuck at home.

“Frances now wants new chairs to go with the table, so that has been added to the ‘to do’ list as a future project.”

Tom Church, Co-Founder of LatestDeals.co.uk says: “Recreating an £800 table on a £45 budget is a fantastic result.

“Gareth’s DIY skills are saving the couple hundreds of pounds, compared to buying new furniture.

“Plus, their clever take on upcycling means they’re doing their bit for the environment too.”

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