The Timeless Shaker Style Kitchen Table

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Last updated: March 23, 2023

A shaker dining table has been around for over 100 years and has survived the test of time. In modern times, it was originally designed to be used in the kitchens of hotels and restaurants, but it’s now being seen more often at home as well. Shaker style tables are very sturdy and can take a lot of abuse without breaking down.

They are, indeed, heirloom quality furniture because the table base, turned legs, and simple designs benefit from traditional methods and strong materials like solid rubberwood which is a block of solid wood. There are plenty of variations available too, ranging from classic designs to modern ones. Some come complete with chairs and others do not. Shaker chairs now accompany most modern versions, offer great seating options, and sell in convenient dining room sets.

Some Amish dining tables come in the classic shaker design or as trestle tables made of high-quality American black walnut. Shaker style furniture is recognized for varying wood types and table sizes, the familiar table top, breadboard ends, and the expert craftspeople who used the finest hardwoods such as red oak, white oak, and other solid hardwood such as solid rubberwood. Solid rubberwood comes from a tree that magically produces latex. You may know them as rubber trees, Asian, or plantation hardwood. It is used in various formats such as medium-density fiberboard and particleboard (common to IKEA furniture products, for example) and veneer.

Shaker furniture has unique features that make them stand out from other styles of kitchen furniture. This includes its structural integrity and the furniture’s ability to serve multiple purposes while still maintaining its original simple design.

Table of Contents

  1. A Brief History of the Shakers
  2. What is a Shaker-Style Kitchen Table
  3. Shaker Style Dining Table Plan
    1. Table Legs / Shaker Legs
    2. The Rails
    3. Corner Blocks
    4. TableTop
      1. Use Wood Planks
      2. Cut Out Plywood Panels
      3. Creating Frames
        1. Using 2x4s
        2. Using Your Own Box Frames
        3. Using Metal Strips
        4. Using Lumber Strips
      4. Build Your Own Tabletop Frame
  4. What is a Classic Shaker Style Design
  5. What are Some Shaker-Style Dining Table Finish Options
    1. Dye
    2. Oil Finish
    3. Lacquer
  6. Is Mission-Style the Same as Shaker-Style Furniture
  7. Conclusion
Minimalism in room with shaker-style kitchen dining table being used as a desk with house plants

It looks great in every room of your house because it goes with everything. You don’t have to worry about where to put it either since there isn’t anything else quite like it available. If you’re looking for a versatile piece of furniture that fits right alongside all kinds of different items, then this could be exactly what you’ve always wanted.

You will find these types of tables everywhere including antique stores, flea markets, and even on eBay! It’s a popular choice! This type of kitchen table may not look like much when you first see it, but once you get one into your own house, they become an integral part of any room. Shaker-style dining room furniture comes with finish options that vary but most have a natural finish like oak wood, wood stain, and are sold in custom sizes for large and small rooms. 

This kind of kitchen table comes in many shapes and sizes, so finding the perfect size table will depend upon how big your family is and whether you plan on having enough seating for everyone who wants to eat together. They even make a shaker bench for added seating.

Shaker-style dining room furniture has been popularized with a variety of rectangular dining table models sold at retailers like IKEA. The finish options will vary but most have a natural finish like oak woods, wood stain, and are sold in custom sizes for large and small rooms. 

The item details and decor style is simple. It’s a very traditional design with clean lines that fit perfectly with almost any dining space. In short, it is a wooden dining table.

Shaker style hardwood kitchen dining table

If you would rather keep things simpler, then this is definitely worth considering. A basic model will work best for smaller spaces and those interested in keeping costs low.

A Brief History of the Shakers

Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, USA, is the site of a Shaker religious community that was active from 1805 to 1910. Following a preservationist effort that began in 1961, the site, now a National Historic Landmark, has become a popular tourist destination. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, or Shakertown, as it is known by residents of the area, is located 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Lexington, in Kentucky's Bluegrass region. It is a National Historic Landmark District.
“Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill – Harrodsburg ~ Kentucky ~ The Centre Family House” by Onasill ~ Bill is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Shakers were a group of religious reformers who lived in the United States from about 1750 to 1879. They believed that all people should be equal and live together peacefully, without money or property. Their homes were called shacks because they were made out of wood with no nails. Many of their houses have been preserved as museums. 

Pleasant Hill, Kentucky, USA, is the site of a Shaker religious community that was active from 1805 to 1910. Following a preservationist effort that began in 1961, the site, now a National Historic Landmark, has become a popular tourist destination. Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill, or Shakertown, as it is known by residents of the area, is located 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Lexington, in Kentucky's Bluegrass region. It is a National Historic Landmark District.
“Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill – Harrodsburg Kentucky ~ Basket Making Room” by Onasill ~ Bill is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

They began by living in New England before moving westward until settling near present-day Pleasant Hill, Kentucky. By 1800, they numbered approximately 3200 members. Most of the early settlers came from Europe, especially Germany. However, after 1830, immigration became increasingly important. During the Civil War, many soldiers joined the movement. After the war ended, fewer new immigrants arrived. As a result, membership declined rapidly.

Today, only about 50 families remain. 

What is a Shaker-Style Kitchen Table

The primary reason why some people prefer the Shaker-style furniture over the other today’s latest styled table is because of its long-lasting quality, simplicity, and space-saving design. There’s no doubt that Shaker style furniture is one of the most durable and long-lasting pieces of solid wood furniture of all time.

Wooden brown empty shaker-style kitchen dining table on white background

If we talk specifically about Shaker-style kitchen tables, they are more focused on quality than design. People who purchase Shaker’s table are not overly concerned with design and aesthetics because the only thing that matters in Shaker’s table is quality and superior quality.

A typical Shaker table has lasted more than a decade due to its high-quality wood and its extreme resistance to temperature.

Farm Table of Reclaimed Wood with Shaker style legs
“Farm Table of Reclaimed Wood with Shaker style legs” by is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Shaker Style Dining Table Plan

Table Legs / Shaker Legs

The Shaker leg are simple posts that are connected to each side rail (makes up the frame) through a traditional technique, used for thousands of years, and known as mortise and tenon joints. The corner of the posts is rounded to prevent splits or wear and tear through use. The wood used for the Shaker leg and the rails are the same. The mortise and tenon joint ensures strength and stability. These leg tables are built to last!

varnishing wooden furniture with brushes and varnish in the joinery

The Rails

To build your own set of rails, start by cutting four 2x4s into lengths of 16 inches each.
You can cut them down to 12 inches if you prefer shorter rails. These measurements allow for some flexibility when building the frame.
Cut off 1/2 inch from the ends of the boards so that they meet flush.
Drill holes every 4 inches along the length of the board.
Use an awl to pierce through the hole and make sure there isn’t anything inside. If there is something inside, remove it carefully. Drill pilot holes where needed.
Now we need to assemble our frames. Start by gluing up the first pair of rails.
Make sure everything fits snugly. Once dry, add another layer of glue between the top and bottom pieces. Let these sit overnight.
Repeat this process for the remaining three pairs of rails.
When finished, let the assembly dry completely.
Once the parts are assembled, attach the tops to the bottoms using screws driven through countersunk pilot holes.
Be careful not to over-tighten the screw heads. It’s better to leave them slightly loose than too tight. That way, you won’t damage the joint later on.
Attach the legs to the sides using dowels or bolts. Again, be gentle when tightening the nuts. Don’t overtighten them either. They should just hold the leg firmly against the side without damaging the Finish with two coats of polyurethane varnish. This will protect the table from moisture and help preserve the look of the piece.
After all the components are attached, sand any rough spots smoothly. Apply several coats of clear polyurethane varnish to protect the workmanship.

Corner Blocks

The corner block is the most common shape found in traditional shaker dining room tables. The corner block usually measures between 5 1/2″ x 7 3/4″ with 2 1/2″ thick legs. Corner blocks come in many different shapes and sizes depending on how large the table is going to be. Some of the larger ones measure up to 10 feet long by 8 feet wide.

If you don’t know where to start looking for a corner block, there are several places online where you can order custom-made pieces. There are companies all across America that specialize in making custom-built corner blocks. Most of these companies offer free shipping so you won’t have to worry about paying extra fees either.


There are plenty of ways to build your own Shaker style tabletop. Here are some easy methods that anyone can do themselves.

applying varnish to the wooden surface by means of a brush in the joinery

Use Wood Planks

You may already have wood planks lying around somewhere in your home. If not, it’s probably fairly simple to find a local lumber yard that sells unfinished boards. Simply cut out the desired size of plank and then stain it if necessary. Once finished, attach the planking together using screws or nails. Make sure to leave gaps between the planks so air can circulate freely through the structure.

Cut Out Plywood Panels

Plywood panels are also very inexpensive. All you need to get started is a circular saw and a jigsaw. Start by cutting out the basic outline of the panel. Then simply add additional cuts along the perimeter until you’ve reached the desired dimensions.

Man with electric jigsaw cutting plywood

It’s best to start with plywood sheets measuring 8″ x 10″. The extra width will give you room to work on both sides without having to worry about running into any walls when making cuts. You’ll want to make sure that you’re leaving enough space at the edges for attaching the plywood to other materials such as glass or metal. You’ll want to make sure that the edges of the plywood are perfectly straight as well. Otherwise, they might warp during drying time.

Creating Frames

Using 2x4s

If you’re looking for something really unique, try creating a frame from two pieces of 2×4 stock instead of just using regular 4′ longboards. This method requires a bit more time and effort than the previous options, but it gives you much greater flexibility.

First, measure off how many inches wide each side of the table should be. Next, mark where the center point of the board should go. Finally, drill holes every inch or so all over the top edge of the board. When drilling these holes, don’t forget to account for the fact that the bottom edge of the board will actually sit slightly below ground level.

After completing this step, remove the board from its original position and place it back down onto the floor. Now, take a second piece of 2×4 and lay it across the first board. Attach them at right angles using clamps or other fasteners. Next, secure the corners of the frame using brackets or braces. Finally, cover the entire frame with plywood. Add decorative trim to complete the project.

Using Your Own Box Frames

Box frames are another great option for building your own shaker style table. These types of structures are typically used for storing items like books or magazines but they could easily be adapted into something else. To begin constructing one, first draw an accurate blueprint of what you’d like the frame to look like. Next, use a router and template bit to create a pattern for the box frame. Afterward, drill small holes every few inches throughout the entire surface area of the frame. Finally, fill those holes with wood putty. Allow the frame to cure thoroughly before assembling it onto the base material.

Using Metal Strips

Metal strips are often sold in sheets measuring anywhere from 4-8 ft. Long. For example, we purchased some from the Lowes Home Improvement store. First, lay down the sheet of metal flat on the floor. Using a tape measure, mark off four-foot sections of the strip.

Using Lumber Strips

Lumber strips are another great option for building your own tabletop. These thin wooden slats are typically used to create frames for artwork. To begin creating your frame, select four identical lengths of a board measuring approximately 4 inches by 6 inches. Using a router bit, drill small holes into both ends of each strip. After drilling, insert a nail into each hole. Now, stack the strips vertically onto a flat surface. Place the second set of strips perpendicular to the first pair.

Build Your Own Tabletop Frame

This method requires no tools at all. Just grab an old sheet of particleboard and lay it down flat on the floor. Next, use a pencil to draw out the exact measurements of your new tabletop frame. Now, mark off those same lines onto the particleboard using a permanent marker. Finally, remove the paper backing from the particleboard and place it directly into position. Attach the corners with four small brads or staples. To make things easier, clamp the particle board in place while doing so.

A few things to keep in mind while constructing your new Shaker style tabletop:

Make sure the corners aren’t rounded. Round edges tend to collect dirt more easily.
Use only straight grain hardwood such as oak, maple, cherry, etc. Avoid softwoods like pine because their grains run parallel to one another which makes them prone to warping.
Keep the thickness uniform throughout the entire tabletop. Thickness variations could cause uneven weight distribution during heavy usage.
Always check the underside of the tabletop after finishing.

What is a Classic Shaker Style Design

Shakers were originally used to store food items that would spoil quickly. These days they still serve the same purpose but now people use them for other purposes as well. For example, some people use them as coffee tables, end tables, bedside tables, nightstands, and even desks!

When designing a classic shaker style design, make sure to include at least four drawers and an open shelf above the drawer. You want enough storage space for everyday household needs. A good rule of thumb is to allow approximately 30% of the total surface area to be taken up by the drawers.

What are Some Shaker-Style Dining Table Finish Options

If we talk about the finishing of the Shaker-style tables, luckily, here you got many options. In classic Shaker’s, the regular staining was used. But, you can use any finishing option without any problem.

Below we’ve mentioned some of the best wooden finishes.


It is like paint for wooden furniture. It’s a thin layer of liquid that gives a glossy or matte look to your wooden furniture. It’s made from alcohol and is light enough that the natural wood texture can be seen.

Lacquering by clear varnish of beach wooden board

Oil Finish

The oil finish is specifically used to give your wooden furniture a glossy and shining look. However, it’s not used to change the color of your wood. It’s only used to enhance the natural color of your wood.


Lacquer works best when your only need is shining, and you don’t need a fancy look. All it does is enhance and bring out a natural glossy shine similar to an oil finish. But, the oil finish is made from crude oil, and lacquer is made from alcohol. However, note that the oil finish lasts for much longer than lacquer, but lacquer provides a much higher gloss than an oil finish.

Is Mission-Style the Same as Shaker-Style Furniture

No, mission-style isn’t the same as shaker-style furniture. The two styles have different characteristics. If you want to know what separates these two types of furniture, read on.

Mission-style has been around since the early 1900s. This type of furniture was designed with simplicity in mind. Its main focus is function over form. That means its primary goal is to provide maximum functionality without any unnecessary frills. On the contrary, shaker-style furniture was first introduced in 18th century England. It became popular among wealthy Americans who wanted something simple yet elegant. They liked how this kind of furniture looked so they started using it everywhere including bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, offices, and bathrooms.

Today, both designs are very common, especially in American homes. So if you’re looking for a new piece of furniture, consider buying either one depending on your preference.


If you are looking for simplicity and function over form, a shaker-style kitchen dining table is built to last. More homeowners are looking for quality furniture that does the job, for a reasonable price, and a healthy lifespan. Even more, shaker-style furniture isn’t just reserved for kitchen dining as the table itself can be used for table games, homework, and even a remote office work desk.

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