NEW! Faster Search Option


Round table that seats 12

TMitchell's picture

I have a potential client interested in a round table for a large octagon dining room.  They want it to seat 12.

How large (diameter) would a round table need to be to comfortabley seat 12?

Anyone have links to similar tables for ideas?  I have some thoughts, but the more input the better the design...



hammer1's picture

(post #89203, reply #1 of 24)

If you figure 2' per chair, your circumference is 24', diameter 7.6+, radius 3.8+. You also need depth for each chair, 2' will do, 7.6' + 4' space needed. I think that's fairly generous unless the knights are wearing full armor.

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

Beat it to fit / Paint it to match

TMitchell's picture

(post #89203, reply #2 of 24)

Thanks, that confirms my current design, which is 8' diameter.  I have a 3' diameter 8-sided pedestal base, which leaves 2.5' of leg space around.  I'm a little concerned about the base being too small though.  Might ratchet it up to 4' diameter and make the actual feet sit at about 4.5' diameter.  That should provide enough stability.  Or if I pull back to 7.5' like you suggest I could leave the 3' dimater base and be ok.

Now, how to transport an 7-8' wide one-piece top?  A problem for another day I suppose...  Oh, and I already asked about access to the room.  They have double 10-foot entry doors leading directly into the dining area.  Must be one big dining room!



Jfrostjr's picture

(post #89203, reply #6 of 24)

Might I suggest a prototype to test stability. I designed a coffee table which, on paper, looked solid as a rock. When I pressed on the prototype it was unstable in an area I had not thought of.


"I sometimes think we consider the good fortune of the early bird and overlook the bad fortune of the early worm." FDR - 1922

RalphBarker's picture

(post #89203, reply #7 of 24)

I'd agree with Sapwood that 30" per diner might be a better metric.

Even with an 8' diameter, the center area of the table becomes pretty useless, however. You might want to re-discuss that aspect of the design with your clients. Another point to consider is how often it will need to accommodate 12, as opposed to some smaller number.

Zolton's picture

(post #89203, reply #8 of 24)


You make a good point about the center of the table becoming no-man's-land. It would make for a long stretch to pass the ketchup to another diner across the way. I guess the way to do it would be around-the-horn. Or it could be an opportunity for another furniture commission: a giant lazy susan.

A smaller round table with leaves that could be inserted for a large dinner party seems like it would be the better way to go. My wife comes from a Catholic family of 12. But that's unusual these days. Unless there is an actual need to seat that many people at one time on a daily basis, it's probably better (and less expensive) to build something more moderate.

However, the original poster's mention of the ten foot doors leading into the room might give a clue as to the scale of the place. Maybe it needs a ten foot diameter table in order to fill the space.


If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

If you see a possum running around in here, kill it. It's not a pet. - Jackie Moon

RalphBarker's picture

(post #89203, reply #10 of 24)

"Or it could be an opportunity for another furniture commission: a giant lazy susan."

Or, perhaps an electric train to bring the serving dishes around? ;-)

Jfrostjr's picture

(post #89203, reply #19 of 24)

Several years ago I had the opportunity to see the dining room (used primarily for lunch) at the GM Design Center. They had a huge round table, I would guess 10" in diameter.

All of the condiments and side dishes went on a motorized, annular 'lazy susan'. The diners each had button to rotate the ring to their seat. I don't know if the higher the status, the greater the priority of the controls.


"I sometimes think we consider the good fortune of the early bird and overlook the bad fortune of the early worm." FDR - 1922

RalphBarker's picture

(post #89203, reply #20 of 24)

I assume the new Car Czar now controls the über button? ;-)

Jfrostjr's picture

(post #89203, reply #21 of 24)

You mean in the White house or the other one?


"I sometimes think we consider the good fortune of the early bird and overlook the bad fortune of the early worm." FDR - 1922

RalphBarker's picture

(post #89203, reply #22 of 24)

I'm not at all sure . . . of anything, these days. ;-)

TMitchell's picture

(post #89203, reply #24 of 24)

I agree that 10' is just too large to be practical in design, construction or use.  I'll be broaching the subjects of frequency and practicality to see if something more reasonable is still going to fit their vision for this room.  The financial buyer in this case is an engineer who I fully expect will see the impractical nature of a table where the center cannot be reached wihtout a stick...

Thanks again.

sapwood's picture

(post #89203, reply #3 of 24)

24" spacing per diner is really quite minimal. Better to provide 30". If you do the 8' dia. table that will give only about 18" per person at 12" in from the edge where their personal space more or less ends. That's very small. I didn't calculate the knee room, but venture to guess there could be some footsy-feely going on. I would make this table at least 9 1/2 to 10 feet in diameter if twelve diners is indeed the design parameter. If, on the other hand, if 12 is an overflow crowd and ten or less is more usual, than a smaller table is OK. In that case, the dinner for 12 can be expected, and maybe desired, to be a bit snug.

gofigure57's picture

(post #89203, reply #4 of 24)

Edited 8/2/2009 7:27 am ET by gofigure57

gofigure57's picture

(post #89203, reply #5 of 24)

Sorry about the size of those pics.  


SgianDubh's picture

(post #89203, reply #9 of 24)

As others have suggested 24" per diner is too little when you are dealing with circular tops due to the diminishing space available within each sector of the circle. 24" per diner is tight on tables with straight edges let alone a circular top.

Generous dining space for dinner party type occasions on straight edged table tops is generally reckoned at 30" per diner. Using this number for your circular top you end up with a diameter of 114.6" and perimeter length of 360". If you can squeeze out a bit more perimeter length that would be better still, eg, dia of 120" meaning a perimeter length of 377" or 31.42" per diner.

You could set below that, at the visually most simple anyway,  a columnar base with an external diameter of about 48" giving an overhang and therefore foot room of about 36". The top I'd guess would be veneered. Unless you're hoaching for space through entrance ways, and the obvious way to make it is in two sectors of a circle, one each either side of the diameter giving a widest part of the top as the radius of the circle, ie, about 60" if you went with a top that is 120" diameter. After you've got it into the room then you'd fasten it together from the underside with something like guiding dowels and a cam locking type bit of hardware. Slainte.

DoninFortLauderdale's picture

(post #89203, reply #11 of 24)

Hi SgianDubh,

I am an intermediate to advanced woodworker who was fortunate enough to have bought an antique Jupe table originally made in England in the late 1800's. It has a mechanical mechanism under the table which allows the eight pie shaped sectioned round table to expand from a 6' diameter to 7' with one set of eight leaves, and with an alternative set of eight leaves to 8'. Having examined the table from underneath, I found the mechanism very clever. By spinning the top counterclockwise, the sections expands. By spinning it counterclockwise, it contracts. I have not seen plans for the table, but it solves the problem of having a table too large when using it for a small set of people and not large enough for a larger group. We have not used it for the largest setting but it works well for all so far. Also, the table is designed to be exactly round only for the 7' size, so there is a little distortion for the 6 and 8' sizes. Has anyone seen plans for this table?? I have googled jupe tables and have found several shown, but none of the mechanisms are shown clearly. Although the table is complex, it is exceptional. If I did not have the antique table, I would build one.

SgianDubh's picture

(post #89203, reply #12 of 24)

I can't help with detailed plans I'm afraid. There are a few videos out there of tables like that, but the details of the mechanical systems seem to be limited. I do know that someone that shows one of  the mechanisms I'm familiar with talks receiving about £30,000 to £50,000 per table. Slainte.

AZMO's picture

(post #89203, reply #13 of 24)

I concur with sapwood as well. 24" is minimal, I plan for 30" as well for my clients outdoor tables. 9'6" diameter table will be a better size. That is what the big hotels have for the banquet tables as well. Sounds like a two piece design to move and assemble on site?





-------(*)/ (*)

TMitchell's picture

(post #89203, reply #14 of 24)

Thanks for the input everyone.  I'm going to press for clarity on regular use vs. occasional use to see if 12 people with 30" each is really necessary.  In any case, it sounds like I'm looking at 8'+.

Any opinions on whether there would be any abnormal issues with making a solid top this size?  I know it will be a trick to get good stock at 8'-10' thats flat enough, but that's something that can be dealt with.  Good support beams will also be important for sure, but the only table I've done that's close to this size was rectangular and had aprons and bread board ends to keep everything flat.

On the other side of the coin, I'm not veneer expert.  When doing a multi-piece veneer this size, is it just like any other multi-piece veneer that you tape together and glue down all at once with a gigantic vacuum press?  Any other way to do this?  And what about a substrate this size... obviously one sheet of 3/4 baltic birch isn't going to do it for this thing.


DonStephan's picture

(post #89203, reply #15 of 24)

Does anyone have any rules of thumb for the diameter of a round pedestal base in relation to the diameter of the round top?  I thought my design book (at the workshop) recommended the base be no more than 12" inside the "dripline" of the top, meaning an 8' diameter tabletop would have a base at least 6' in diameter.  This would also mean the chairs might not fully fit under the tabletop.

robkress's picture

(post #89203, reply #16 of 24)


I made a 6' round table when I moved into my house. Perfect for 6 people. I made mine with 6 legs so everyone would have a clear sitting position. Could seat 8 if I needed to but six is very comfortable.

Two things....
you can't even imagine how hard it is to deal with a 6' round table in construction. Man, it's just big and hard to handle. Moving, finishing, etc will be tough. Enough to require help at times.
mine curled up like a pringle on one edge after manufacture and before finish (like 4" inches off plane....seriously pringle). Just a bad circumstance of beech lumber and bad timing. Cut it and finish it as soon as possible. If you can use very stable solid hardwood or figure out how to veneer an engineered interior. After a couple of weeks of trying to persuade my pringle back into shape, I gave up and cut it off. Glued on new boards and recut. Big huge pain. And really, it's still not perfect (which drives me crazy cause I'm the kind of guy who works with micrometers).

Rob Kress

SgianDubh's picture

(post #89203, reply #17 of 24)

"When doing a multi-piece veneer this size, is it just like any other multi-piece veneer that you tape together and glue down all at once with a gigantic vacuum press?  Any other way to do this?"

Yes. It's simple. You sub-contract the job out to a veneer laying specialist. They do it at about US$15-$20 a square foot in maple or cherry; more per square foot for an exotic species, and you pass on the cost to your customer with a suitable mark-up, eg, 50%.

There are plenty of issues in doing a top this size in solid wood. If you're not already aware of them and know how to deal with those issues I suspect you might be biting off more than you can chew, particularly if you are dealing with paying customers. You have to get it right for paying customers; you cannot afford to be fishing around hopefully for the right technique when there's big money involved, and a table like this will involve big money requiring a maker that knows what they're doing. Slainte.

KeithNewton's picture

(post #89203, reply #18 of 24)

I have to agree with Richard on this.

But first, Just because the customer says they want a round table that will seat 12 doesn't mean that they know what they are saying. It is your job to talk them into facing reality. This format is impractical, and you need to tell and show them that as you guide them onto a better path.

You should not even consider making a table that requires someone to crawl out on top of it to clean the middle third of it.

An Ellipse approximately 10 ~ 12' X 5' would look so much sweeter, without getting too wide in the middle.

Shoemaker1's picture

(post #89203, reply #23 of 24)

I picked up the FWW how to design furniture magazine a couple weeks ago. page 63 discusses table dimensions. there largest round table is 60 inches for 6 people.

I think you would have to make some kind of torsion box construction to keep it flat, and /or droop over time.

Richard makes some good points! I think an eliplical table would be more practical.