Here’s How to Build a DIY Coffee Table

Coffee tables are a key piece of furniture in your living room, and why not craft your own that’s totally unique? Here are some ideas for building your own DIY coffee table.

Coffee tables, being both beautiful and functional, are an important piece of your living room setup, but some of the best ones are often overpriced, or just aren’t unique enough. Building your own can be a fun and relatively straightforward task that’s completely doable over a weekend. We’ve put together this guide to walk you through the process, and help you gather ideas, for making your very own DIY coffee table.

Remember to keep your construction abilities in mind, as you’ll need to use various heavy-duty tools. If you don’t have a ton of experience, or if this will be your first time building something, it might be a good idea to find a specific blueprint to work from so that you have detailed instructions.

Get Inspired

As with all good design, start by brainstorming and finding references for the table you want to build. Pinterest is a great place for design ideas, or you can peruse home décor magazines — even furniture stores online — for an idea to recreate. DIY coffee tables don’t necessarily need to be from scratch, either: repurposing older coffee tables, or vintage items, can be a great starting point. Below are some cool items you can repurpose into a coffee table:

  • Wine crates
  • Old wooden doors
  • Vintage suitcases or trunks
  • Tree stumps
  • Wood palettes
  • Marble slabs
  • Old fence pieces

Prep Your Tools and Materials

Once you’ve figured out your vision, it’s time to plan. Take stock of all the materials you’ll need for your table, including the proper tools, like screws, drill, or a saw, and write out a list to stay organized. Your list may look different depending on your idea, but assuming you’re constructing a basic wooden table, start with this guideline:

  • Wood pieces for the tabletop (size and length for these pieces dependent on your project!)
  • Wood pieces for the posts
  • Wood pieces to connect the top to the posts
  • Stain to color the wood
  • Wipe-on polyurethane, or varnish
  • Glue
  • Sandpaper
  • Drill
  • Screws
  • Tape measure
  • Saw
  • Safety Glasses

Once you have all your materials ready to go, cut the wood to your desired length, and make any holes (or pocket holes, which can help you drill at the proper angle) into the wood pieces that you’ll need when constructing.

Put It Together

Now comes the part that requires some skill — it’s time to assemble. These steps are going to depend on your chosen design, but here’s the basic process: Start by constructing the frame of the coffee table, first gluing the posts to the rail pieces, and then clamp together and attach using pocket screws. Make sure that the top of the frame is flush with the posts for a flat surface, and that the bottoms are even so nothing wobbles. Next, put together the tabletop, line it up properly, and both glue and screw it together with your frame.

Don’t Forget Your Finishing

If you’re building your DIY coffee table out of wood, you’ll want to apply the proper finishing to help achieve the look you want. Start by sanding down the wood to make an even surface free from nicks and scratches, and make sure to sand with the grain of the wood, not against it. Next, put on some protective gloves and apply your wood stain of choice depending on your desired look: there are lots of colors to choose from. Wait about ten minutes, then wipe off any excess stain for an even coat. Lastly, apply your wipe-on poly or varnish, using the instructions provided, and lightly buff it afterwards — you may need to apply a few coats. Finishing the table properly isn’t just for the beautiful appearance, but sealing and staining it will help protect it, too.

Photo credit: Igi Jakubiec/Shutterstock

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