How To Build A Coffee Table

Need to know how o build a coffee table? Using ready-made, profiled legs, you can build a coffee table that will look chic and sleek, yet require no prior woodworking experience or special tools.  Check your coffee table, and if you are due for a new one why not build a coffee table yourself.

To build your coffee table you will need:

  • Four curved (profiled) table legs, from your local home improvement store. Note: The legs will have a screw inserted at the top.
  • One solid hardwood board 36”x 17”.
  • Two 2×4 lumber.

Follow these steps to build your coffee table:

  • Choosing the Best Tabletop Side. Before you begin to build your coffee table, test the hardwood board to determine which side should face up. Wipe mineral spirits or denatured alcohol over the wood. This will mimic a clear finish for a few seconds and help you choose the more beautiful side of the board. Before starting to build your coffee table, turn the board over to protect the chosen surface from damage during construction.
  • Cutting the short table aprons. The table aprons will form a metered frame beneath the table. A metered frame is made up of four wood parts that meet in the corners at 45 degree angles, like a picture frame. Cut the 2×4 lumber at a 45 degree angle at one end, then measure 17” from the tip of the metered cut and make a second 45 degree cut. This will form the first short table apron. Place it over the hardwood board to confirm that the length of the table apron matches the width of the tabletop. If not, make any adjustments, then use the first apron as a yardstick for cutting the second. Tip: It’s best to leave yourself a margin of error. You can always trim the wood down to size, but if you cut too much, you will have to start over.
  • Cutting the long table aprons. Now finish building the coffee table frame by cutting 2×4 lumber to match the hardwood board’s length (36”). Follow the same steps as above, making sure of your yardstick before cutting the second apron.
  • Glue the coffee table frame. Assemble the apron frame over the hardwood board. The aprons should meet in the corners to form a square. The apron frame should be flush with the tabletop, extending  4 inches above it at a right angle. Glue the corners of the frame together to make a solid square, then glue the square to the hardwood board. Note: remember that while you build the coffee table you are seeing it upside down.
  • Reinforce the coffee table frame. From the leftover 2×4 lumber, cut four 6” support pieces, then cut four 2” support pieces. Lay these pieces flat against the hardwood board inside the apron frame. Each metered corner will be supported by one 6” piece lengthwise and one 2” piece widthwise. Glue the support pieces in place and let them dry before you continue to build the coffee table.
  • Prepare to attach the profiled table legs. Align the screw at the top of a table leg with the side of the hardwood board. If the screw is longer than the depth of the hardwood board with the additional elevation of the 2×4 support piece, then glue additional support pieces above the first to provided added depth for the table leg screw. Tip: add a few millimeters to your calculations as the wood pieces will compress when you screw the table leg through. You’ll want the table leg screw to penetrate about halfway into the hardwood board.
  • Drill the holes for attaching the table legs. To complete the assembly part of building this coffee table you will need to drill holes in the support pieces, as well as halfway through the hardwood board. Test the drill bit on a waste piece of wood to determine the right size for the table leg screws. Next, align the drill bit with the side of the table and use a piece of tape to mark the drill bit with the right depth. Drill only as deep as the tape. Then spread glue on the leg screws and screw them into place.
  • Finish or Stain. Shellac or lacquer fuse and rub best and are therefore most recommended for finishing the coffee table.
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