How to Build Your Own Coffee Table
Making a coffee table from store-bought items is easy work. See this method and consider how you can design and make a similar table, though your idea may not be round like mine. Any shape and size does the job.
I used a standard table top from a lumber department. However, if you can use the right saw, or know someone who can, yours can be shaped like a tea pot if you so desire.
After choosing size and shape, the correct legs are an important decision. Sturdy is the primary goal. They can be made of metal, wood, or plastic (type) material. A little research will help you decide how they should be made or where to buy them once you know what you want.
Then there is the finish. Paint? Stain? Get imaginative, I did. You may be surprised when you see the supplies list for this specific coffee table. When the final decision is made, you are ready to think through assembly and make your supplies list.
Below are the items needed for this project with photos to help you see the process. Read it through so you can check on whether you already have any of the items. Many crafts people do.
Hopefully, you will be inspired to proceed with that project you've had rolling around the back of your head. Keep in mind how such a table could make a nice gift, especially if you get an idea of what the recipient would like before you design it.
Supply List and Tools Needed
Here'e a list of the supplies you'll need:
- 3' round table top
- 3' square piece of 1/2-inch plywood
- (8) 1.5-inch screws
- (4) 16-inch black metal hairpin table legs, heavy duty
- (16) 1-inch screws (heavy ones for attaching legs)
- clear polyurethane spray
- neutral-colored paint (about 1 quart)
- clear, water-based polyurethane (about 1 gallon)
- carpenters' wood glue
- painters' tape
- lightweight upholstery fabric (about 1.25 yards)
And here's a list of the tools you'll need:
- (2) 4-inch paint brushes
- lightweight sandpaper
- jig saw (for cutting the round shape out of plywood—or you can have it cut at a lumber store)
- drill driver (screw gun for attaching screws)
So, had you guessed my surprise item? The fabric I used has embroidery on what appears to be gauze but it is a lightweight polyester. See photos below.
How to Assemble the Parts and Pieces
Please read through these steps before beginning project:
- Wash and dry fabric according to manufacturer's instructions. If needed, iron fabric before using.
- Cover black hairpin legs with a clear polyurethane spray. Set aside to dry.
- Cut plywood into a 32" circle and lightly sand it (or just sand if precut). Dust off, paint one side and edges with neutral color, and set aside to dry.
- Lightly sand 36" table top. Dust off, paint top and edges with neutral color. Allow to fully dry.
- Put a heavy coat of polyurethane on painted table top, around outer edges of table top, and underneath the edges at least 3–4".
- Immediately spread fabric on the table top, evenly like a table cloth. Pull slightly (keeping it even) so it sticks to the polyurethane.
- Begin wrapping edges and using painters' tape to hold in place. No need to be in a big rush, but work quickly. Don't worry if some edges seem too long, as this will be remedied later. Don't worry that there are gathers along the fabric edges, just make them as even as possible.
- Once the edges are taped, go over the top with a paint brush to check for air bubbles that need smoothing out. Allow polyurethane to dry according to manufacturer's instructions.
- When drying time is up, paint clear polyurethane on top of the cloth (not too heavily), around the edges, and again up under the edges about 3 inches. Don't worry about the painters' tape at this point.
- Repeat, painting the polyurethane on in the same manner, allowing the correct dry times between coats. I did seven coats because of the embroidery, but you may find that your fabric requires fewer coats.
- Once you are satisfied with the number of coats, allow the table top to thoroughly dry. I gave it a couple of days, because I didn't want to take any chances with so many coats on it.
- Once it is well dried, turn it over onto a clean surface, bottom side up. Now you can cut extra-long pieces off around the curve, but pay attention not to cut too much off. The overlapped fabric needs to be long enough to be hidden by the plywood circle. The table top was 36" and the plywood was cut to 32", so the fabric overlap had to be about 6".
- Place the plywood on the table top's back, covering the edges of the fabric. Make a few marks to indicate its outline and set it aside. Peel off painters' tape.
- Apply carpenters' glue according to manufacturer's directions inside the marked outline. Replace the plywood circle inside the outline.
- Mark evenly spaced Xs for screws and use drill driver to insert them. If working alone, a clamp can hold the plywood in place, but another person can hold it tight enough to get a couple of screws in. Finish inserting all eight screws, and clean off any glue that oozed out along the edges with a wet cloth. Allow glue to dry.
- Paint the plywood with a second coat of neutral-colored paint if you wish, being careful not to get paint on the polyurethaned cloth. Allow paint to dry.
- Mark leg placement on outer edges of plywood, measuring carefully. Install hairpin legs.
- Enjoy showing off your table!
While waiting on portions of our addition to be completed it only made sense to use the time working on smaller DIY projects. This idea had been rolling around the back of my head for some time.
The right timing, collecting the parts, and putting it together was a satisfying process. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but it's just what I imagined for the space. In sharing this tutorial I'm hoping to see ideas others come up with for their own use.
How have you DIY'd furniture?
Table in Progress
So, after planning and executing my project I found the finished coffee table had an issue I did not foresee for some strange reason. It should have been obvious from the get go. Thankfully, there was a solution. Did you notice it?
Though I love the table the embroidery is bumpy, making it a bit difficult to place a cup down safely. It can be done, but a tray was the solution. The black one shown was quite inexpensive. One day I hope to find or ask my hubby to make a round wooden one with extra low sides, more like a frame.
The moral of the story is to be sure and think through every aspect of your project before buying your supplies or you may also do something like give your coffee or tea cups an uneven surface. Let me know what you think of this project below, but if you create your own coffee table write an article so we can see it!