This simple, modern wood coffee table is distinctive yet adaptable enough to grace a wide range of home interiors. Built of readily available dimensional lumber, the coffee table is 28 inches in diameter and a solid, chunky 1-1/2 inches thick. Four flared legs complete the contemporary look.
In just a few hours, you'll have this DIY coffee table finished and ready for coffee or cocktails, or as a decorative place to display books, plants, or magazines.
Before You Begin
What appears to be a thick, solid piece of wood for the coffee table top is actually several pieces of lumber laminated side-to-side. Wood, glue, and pressure combine to produce a strong piece of large wood.
For additional support, a pre-cut round board is mounted under the tabletop boards. Though its edges are generally not visible, painting its edges with matte-black spray paint helps reduce visibility.
The tabletop is made of two-by-fours. Poplar, maple, red oak, and white oak, usually available by special order, keep the project cost just below $300. Some stores offer pre-cut pieces of wood that can be used as a tabletop for your project.
Walnut, cherry, and mahogany push the overall cost above $300. For a super low-cost modern coffee table, use prime whitewood studs. At just $5 to $15 per stud, the cost of the DIY coffee table will be well below $100.
Be careful when cutting the wood on the electric miter saw. Always use the fence and built-in clamp to hold in the material. Wear safety glasses and hearing protection.
Equipment / Tools
- Electric miter saw
- Drill and driver bits
- 3 bar clamps, each 34-inch capacity
- Electric sander
- Wood glue
- Matte-black spray paint
- String or twine
- Tack cloth
- Paint brush
- 3 two-by-fours, each 8 feet long
- 1 two-by-two, 8 feet long
- 1 round MDF or pine edge glued panel board, 1-inch by 2-foot
- 4 metal furniture leg mounting plates, 2-3/4-inch by 2-3/4-inch
- 8 wood screws, 2-inch
- Water- or oil-based polyurethane or Danish oil
- 1 poly sheeting, 6 mil
Cut Wood For Tabletop
Use an electric miter saw to cut:
- Two-by-fours into nine pieces, each piece 32 inches long
- Two-by-two into four pieces, each piece 18 inches long
Prepare Work Area
Find or create a perfectly flat work table at least 36 inches by 36 inches. Spread out the poly sheeting. Use only poly sheeting, as wood glue will not stick to it. Do not use paper or cardboard.
Choose the best sides of the two-by-fours for the top of the tabletop. Face them down on the poly sheeting. Line up the boards side by side.
Add Glue to Boards
Remove an end board and apply a thick bead of wood glue to one edge of it. Lay it down and push the second board against it. Pick up the third board. Apply glue to both edges, then apply it to the other boards.
Continue like this until you have glued all inward-facing edges. Don't over-apply the glue.
Clamp the boards with the three bar clamps. Turn the handles or pump the levers (depending on the type of clamp) as tightly as possible. Wood glue responds well to high pressure. Wipe excess glue from the top. Lay a scrap piece of wood perpendicular across the top and weigh it down to prevent bowing.
Paint Round Support Board
Shake the can of matte-black paint well, then paint the edges and bottom of the round support board. The other side (which will be against the tabletop) does not need to be painted.
Miter Cut Table Legs
Miter cut the four table legs at 15 degrees on each end, with the angles in opposite directions.
Attach Mounting Plates to Legs
Attach a metal mounting plate to the very end of one of the legs. Use the screws provided in the package. Drill through the center cluster holes on the plate, not the holes along the perimeter.
Repeat for the other legs and plates.
Attach Legs to Round Board
With the drill and the provided screws, attach the table legs to the bottom of the support board. Mount each leg 4 inches inward from the edge of the support board. Mount the legs equidistant from each other (noon, 3, 6, and 9, as if on a clockface).
After four to six hours, remove the clamps from the tabletop.
Draw Circle on Tabletop
Turn the tabletop facing upward. Lightly tap the nail into the exact center. Tie a 20-inch length of string or twine into a circle, so that the circle is 14 inches long when taut.
Place one end of the string over the nail. Place the tip of the pencil in the other end. Draw a circle.
Cut Tabletop Round
With the jigsaw, cut on the line. The jigsaw should be equipped with a blade that cuts to a depth of 2 inches or more.
Sand Tabletop Edges and Top
Sand the edges of the tabletop by hand. Fit the sandpaper onto the electric sander to sand the top of the tabletop.
Attach Legs to Tabletop
Turn the tabletop upside-down. Screw the support board/legs assembly to the center of the tabletop with six to eight 2-inch wood screws.
Stain or Coat Tabletop
High-quality hardwoods like mahogany and walnut can be clear-coated with water- or oil-based polyurethane. For a softer feel and natural look, use Danish or teak oil instead.
Lower quality two-by-fours look better and are more water-resistant when coated with two or three coats of oil-based polyurethane.