Introduction: Amazing Disappearing Coffee Table!

Picture of Amazing Disappearing Coffee Table!

OK, I admit: it's not all that amazing, and it doesn't really disappear (it just folds up), and it's not much of a "coffee table;" more of a teeny little end-table/foot stool. But it does give me a place to put my feet/netbook/coffee/breakfast/etc while I'm preventing the couch from levitating, and it does fold up and hide quite nicely.

Step 1: Materials

Picture of Materials

Two 18" lengths of 2"x2"
Two 5" lengths of 2"x2"
One 15" dowel (I used an old broom handle)
One 3" metal rod
Two 12" squares (for the base & top). I used 1"x12" pine shelving (plywood would be fine, too)
Two hinges (almost any size or style will work). Note: Four would provide less wobbly results.
Short wood screws: enough for the hinges
Four long wood screws: about 2"

Small drill bit (for pilot holes)
1" drill bit (or: just a little bigger than the dowel)
1/2" drill bit (or: just a little bigger than the metal rod)

Step 2: Build The... "legs"

Picture of Build The... "legs"

(...for lack of a better noun).
Drill a 1/2" hole through the middle of the wooden dowel.
Drill a 1/2" hole into the middle of each 18" 2x2, about one inch deep.

Screw the 5" 2x2s onto both ends of one of the 18" 2x2s (drill pilot holes to prevent splitting).

Slide the metal rod through the dowel and into one of the 18" 2x2s.
Slide the second 18" 2x2 onto the metal rod.

Attach the remaining 18" 2x2, ensuring that the dowel spins freely.

Sit around spinning the dowel freely for a while. Important: make airplane and/or helicopter noises.

Step 3: Hinges

Picture of Hinges

Mount the hinges to allow the base and tabletop to be flush with the 2x2s when horizontal.
Two hinges would result in more stability.

Step 4: Drill "pockets" for the Dowel

Picture of Drill "pockets" for the Dowel

Drill a 1" hole for the dowel in the bottom of the tabletop, and in the top of the base.

I'm sure the location and angle could be determined by mathematics, but I guessed: swing the dowel out so that the table is level, and mark the spot with a pencil. Drill the holes at the dowel's angle, and sink them deep enough so that the dowel does not slip out when a little weight is applied.

Step 5: Fold & Stow... Unfold & Enjoy!

Picture of Fold & Stow... Unfold & Enjoy!

To fold for storage, simply lift the tabletop, swing the dowel into  its 2x2 "frame," and lay flat. Mine fits under my couch.

Other ideas:
Add a cushion for a comfy footstool: mine is a tiny bit wobbly due to the inherent "play" one finds in most hinges; adding another pair of hinges or ones built to more exacting standards would result in more stability. But the strength is more than sufficient, since a heavier weight pushes the dowel more securely into the boards.

Use nice wood (as evidenced by the photos, the wood I used was crappy).

Paint/inlay a chess board.

Sink coasters into the surface for an even more beverage-friendly table.

Integrate snaps or magnets or straps to hold it all closed, and a handle for portability. 

Integrate snaps or magnets or straps to hold it all open, for added stability.

Sit on it (more robust construction recommended).

Build something else entirely: The "legs" of this stool could be adapted to a variety of applications. The "X" created by a middle piece that swings out allows for a compact support system. 

Thanks for reading, and best of luck with your 'ibles!


steve.crane (author)2016-09-15

Just before I found this I had drawn something similar but was thinking of three boards joined in a Z with piano hinges so they could fold flat when not in use. I was still pondering a locking mechanism when I came across your plan. The central section incorporating the dowel is clever and I think I'm going to build it or something close.

I need to build two small speaker stands for our photography club, that need to be collapsed for easy storage in a cupboard between meetings. This looks like just what I need.

jelte1234 (author)2014-02-12

If you would buid this into your own floor, you could make it really disappear. you would however have to drill out your floor...

Neat idea!

AmyCat59 (author)2013-03-15

I've got some cheap commercial folding tray-tables which wobble a lot. Going to try adding a base like yours to hold the legs firmly, and see if that will help...

galadriel (author)2012-09-26

Nice instructable, very clear!

I wanted something a little taller (my supports were 26" and 22" for the middle) and slightly more rounded-looking. I used this as more of an experiment with several different techniques, so it's not as overall finished as I might have wanted, but I'm still pretty pleased with it.

One thing I did to make it a touch more stable, on those flimsy dowel legs, was to drill a 1/4" hole down the ends of the middle dowel, and stick a 1/4 dowel inside, with about 1/4" protruding. Then in the middle of the support dowel's stop-hole, I drilled a 1/4" slightly deeper hole. So the stop-dowel has a stop-dowel.

Thanks for the inspiration!

mikecraghead (author)galadriel2012-09-26

Very nice!

galadriel (author)mikecraghead2012-09-26

Glad you approve! I appreciate the inspiring instructable.

PeckLauros (author)2011-07-09

Nice instructables.

tinker234 (author)2011-06-03

hey just a thought could i use this and upscale and make a bed that dissapers under my flour and then a cover that mathches my floor

theexpert (author)2011-05-22

i feel this is more of one of those mini fold tables for eating next to the couch yes a coffee table is similar to a mini couch side eating table but i feel this is less of a coffie table unless it was bigger

mikecraghead (author)theexpert2011-05-22

I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment, theexpert, but I couldn't think of a good word for "mini couch-side eating table," so I sacrificed accuracy for simplicity. Although the principle would work fine scaled up-and-out: perhaps the "legs" could become a big plywood sheet with one (or two) dowels that swing out to support a full-fledged coffee table? Or instead of a dowel, a section of plywood spinning on a frame of plywood, pivoting on a rod through its center. Then it still folds flat, but could truly do a coffee table's job...

theexpert (author)mikecraghead2011-05-27

those are both very good ideas i might just try one

gserrano701 (author)2011-05-25

Great, worth giving it a try, thanks

Rizwan Azami (author)2011-05-18

This was a clever constructible. Will definitely try it and report back.Thank you for it, Rizwan

Bongmaster (author)2011-05-16

pretty neat

About This Instructable




Bio: Warthog-faced buffoon.
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