Sunday, December 30, 2012

Project - Coffee Table

This project was the first where I was building something for someone else.

My brother wanted a new coffee table for a birthday gift, so we traded some e-mails on design features.  He found a coffee table online that he liked:
Altra Coffee Table - the model
The other key aspect of the design was to utilize the sheet of glass from his current coffee table.  The one in his apartment gets a lot of use, and over time, the wood would have a hard time holding up to all the wear and tear as well as food/liquid spills.

For this project, I decided to use S4S pine (squared on four sides) rather than dimensional lumber like I had used on my own dining table.  Dimensional lumber's edges are rounded, so when you join two boards together to make a table top, for instance, you get seams between the boards.  With the dining table, these seams are a key area for food and crumbs to fall into and it is tough to clean out.  Given that the coffee table would use a sheet of glass on top, this wasn't an issue.  It does create a different aesthetic, and in this case, I was trying to closely match what the customer wanted.

The table top and the underside of the table were created using 3 boards joined together to make a flat surface.  The storage drawers sat on an under-mount drawer rail.  I hadn't used under-mount before and they are harder to find - I had to order from Amazon rather than get them at Home Depot.
Something's amiss
If you look carefully, you'll see that the opening I cut in the drawer face is off-center.  I guess I wasn't paying attention and centered the cutout at 11.5" for a 21" drawer face.  Oops.  I had to re-do the faces which wasn't a problem since I had extra wood.

This was probably the first time I've used a protractor since middle school geometry.  I did not calculate the radius, diameter, or length of an arc, so I hate to disappoint any geometry teachers reading this.  The protractor was great for sketching out the right arc that I wanted.  I had tried using an upside down bowl or plate as a stencil (don't tell Pamela), but didn't like the sizing.

The table came together pretty well and I was very impressed with the color that came from the Minwax Polyshades Espresso.  I will be sure to not do much staining in the winter though - it doesn't apply as smoothly and you are a lot more likely to get streaks and build-up.

The last step was adding a felt liner to the drawers.  I got to play with a hot glue gun which was a lot of fun.

Pictures of the final product are below.  I like the way it came out although it took me a lot longer to deliver than I would have thought.  Thankfully the customer was okay with the delays.


  1. nice table i want to purchase and place this table in my house.

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