While Nate was working on the base of the table, I was going through many iteration of filling cracks with wood filler and sanding the top down. This took a few passes since I kept finding spot that weren't properly filled. Below you can see how the left side is all nicely filled and sanded down while the right side was still in the process.
As far as making the table expandable, we flipped the whole top over and used 1x 3's and plywood to create slats for the table to slide on.
We alternated which side of the table the slats attached to and while we initially had a lot more, we reduced the number to minimize friction. Any leaves that we make will also have slats so that we can just slide them into place.
The plywood basically encased the slats so there can't be any bend in the middle. The legs of the table will attach to the plywood so they will expand with the table.
Once all the slats were in place and the filling/sanding was finished, I gave the top a good cleaning (I got the majority of the dust off with our air compressor and then wiped it down really well) and stained it. You can really see how different angles on the inlayed grain makes it look like it's stained differently. At first I thought I just didn't let the stain sit long enough but as I moved around the table, the change in angle would change the color appearance which was pretty cool. If you pay attention in the next couple of photos you'll see it too.
TIP: Make sure you wipe on stain with the grain, let it sit a few minutes and then wipe the excess stain off. Otherwise, it won't dry properly.
After stain it was time for poly. We wanted to keep a rustic look to the table so we bought satin poly. I made a couple of mistakes with the poly but luckily it was fixable and you get to learn from my mistakes!
I should have noticed my first mistake at this point but I was so enamored by how pretty the table looked that I didn't.
But after three coats of poly and bringing it inside I sure noticed. It was the glossiest satin table that I had ever seen. It turned out (after much research) that I simply had not stirred the poly enough. In fact it is important to make sure that your stir stick is stirring white touching the bottom of the can. Satin poly is just gloss poly with flatteners mixed in and they sink to the bottom. I wasn't stirring while touching the bottom of the can so the flatteners just sat at the bottom and I was left with gloss poly.
The other mistake that I made was that after going with the grain for the first coat of poly I thought it would be ok to poly just straight across.... it's not. You always have to go with the grain or else it is super noticeable. Luckily, after quickly hand sanding the top (with the grain) with 180 grit sandpaper and putting another coat of properly stirred satin poly on, everything was as good as new!
Come back later this week for the final reveal of our DIY'ed table!