A couple of weekends ago we had three of my cousins in town to visit us for a few days of eating and talking (the best kinds of visits, in my book:)). These guys aren't just family, but they're also some of our funniest, most thoughtful, delightful friends, and we were thrilled to have them here for a few days.
We decided to celebrate the cousins' arrival with a few friends on Saturday night with a dinner party. The trouble was, our table only seats eight comfortably with the extra leaf in, and I really wanted to have everyone together as opposed to setting up a second table in another room... It just seemed like it had to be doable somehow to create a much larger dining room table, at least temporarily.
I measured our little dining room space carefully, calculating two feet per chair to determine the maximum number of people we could squeeze into the room. This step turned out to be critical, since I realized after measuring that the only way to fit so many around one table would be to widen it and seat two at each end.
On my (daily!) trip to Home Depot I picked up two sheets of 5/8" thick particle board, which seemed plenty stiff and heavy enough to handle the weight of some dishes and elbows without bending or flipping over. We needed two sections, 4x5 feet each, and I had them use the enormous saw in the store to cut them down for me so I could fit them in my car.
Now all I needed to do was set this thing up! We have a drop leaf table in the living room that can work well as a four person card or dining table with the leaves popped up, and to add extra support to the whole structure, I pulled it over and used it as part of the new, enormous table's base. To protect both tables underneath, I laid out some extra cotton fabric I had lying around from a past project and positioned my particleboard sections on top. Because these boards have squared edges, I found that two layers of tablecloths on top hid their roughness and made it less obvious that this isn't really a dining room table under there.
The particleboard totally worked! The whole thing performed perfectly, with no wobbles or mishaps. These things are so terribly heavy that I wondered if I'd made a mistake and should've gotten something lightweight so I could maneuver them more easily, but all that weight created a tabletop so stable we I didn't have to worry about tipping the thing over. So definitely worth the extra workout to set up and tear down:) And now I know we can feed 14 people when the next special occasion comes around!