I have had the same table for about 12 years now. The top has been bothering me for the last few years and has become increasingly worn and out-dated (orange-y stain) and so I finally got around to changing it. I knew I wanted to keep the legs because I think they are a beautiful shape AND it would make the project a whole lot easier. My hubby made two benches because the breakfast nook space is so small and it saves a lot of room having benches to slip under the table. My 11 year old son helped me from start to finish and he loved it! He was just the right size to climb under the table and take out all the screws! It was so fun to work with him and teach him new skills.
First, we unscrewed the old top from the legs. It was originally an extendable table with a leaf, so we had to replace the front and back apron boards because they were split into two pieces to allow a leaf to fit in. Replacing those was not at all as hard as I was worried about. I just measured the length and width and bought a board to match at the hardware store, and we screwed it in.
After that was finished, we worked on the table top. I bought 6, 1"x8"x6' pine boards (I HIGHLY recommend choosing boards that are as straight and flat as you can find. I also recommend using those boards as fast as possible to minimize warping as they continue to cure). I didn't have to cut anything, since they were the exact length I needed. I then sanded them all very smooth and set to work staining. I knew I wanted a gray stain as I have a lot of dark wood furniture already in my house. I ended up mixing my own stain, using a gray, black and dark brown stain to keep the boards from having too blue of a tint. I kept mixing and wiping the boards until I got the color I liked.
Once the boards were dry, we flipped them over and lined them up, rearranging boards to find the best configuration for the tightest fit. My husband suggested using ratchet straps to hold the boards together tightly to minimize gaps while we screwed small boards lengthwise to the back. After we got two straps as tight and flat as we could, we simply screwed the support boards into the planks. Then I painted the chairs, bench bottoms and legs the same color using Krylon Chalky Finish spray paint, which is pricey but the most superb spray paint I've ever used. Seriously- it's glamorous.
*same idea from a similar project
Finally, we attached the top back onto the legs, using the same screws and braces we took off the original top. And then I carefully sealed it with a clear polyurethane, watching for bubbles and making sure it was all very smooth. I probably gave it a good 10 light coats to make sure it was very well protected.
*This is the only before picture I could find