I found Instructables about a year ago now, and have loved it! I've gotten so many great ideas from this awesome community and finally I think I'm ready to contribute and hopefully help others like myself.
This will be my first go at it and I hope you like it. I want this to be an instructable that gives you ideas rather than a plan to follow.
Just a little back ground on the Coffee Table. Like most of my projects it was born out of a need. obviously the need in this case was a lack of coffee table. Since the major user of this was going to be my girlfriend, I decided that I would customize it to her needs (I will tell how in the following steps) She had only one requirement, that it be Cheap! I thought for a minute and figured I could do it with pallet wood. After all what's cheaper than FREE.
Lets get started.
Step 1: Table Top
I was lucky enough to find some great pallets that were perfect.
The table top was made from a 4'x8'.
The pallet was carefully taken apart. Then the boards were planed down just enough to smooth them out. After that was done I ripped each one on the table saw to square the edge and remove any knots and major imperfections.
Note: When planning pallet wood be sure to remove as much dirt, any nails and connecting metal left by the nail guns they were assembled with.
Once everything was planned and cut I had about 10 boards to choose from. I selected the best ones for fit and color and simply edge glued them together and left them in the clamps over night.
While edge gluing boards you'll want to check the end grain being sure to alternate the ring pattern.
I wanted to give the top a thick appearance. to do this I cut small strips of wood and fastened them to the bottom side around the edges. Then used a 1\2" round over bit in the router to soften up the edges.
Step 2: Legs
I was able to find a pallet that was made of lumber that was approximately 3"x4"
The first thing to do was to joint and plane the leg blanks. After that was done I sized them to the height and width I wanted on the table saw and miter saw. This is where the table was customuzed the most. the finished table stands little over 18" tall, this is what turned out to be a comfortable height for it to function both as a coffee table and a small work table for a lap top.
Next was to carefully lay out the mortises that accept the rails. they were cut on the router table but you could easily cut these out by hand with a sharp chisel.
To add a little more finished and elegant look the legs were tapered. To do this I made the tapering jig in the pics. It's designed for use with a table saw, i'm not going to go into detail on how it was made. instructions on that can be found with a quick google search.
Step 3: Rails
The rails are constructed from the left over wood used on the top. they have a dado running down the inside, in order to install some reinforcing pieces. the rails attach to the legs with a tenon that fits into the mortises made earlier.
After everything was dry fitted together to ensure a good fit the rails were glued into the legs and all was clamped and left to dry over night.
Step 4: Finshing
The first thing to do was to fill all the nail holes. The fill was match to what I wanted the final color to be. Although a lot of wood fillers say they're stain-able I haven't had much luck with relying on that.
Then a final sanding with 80 grit moving to 100 and finishing with 120.
after two coats of stain left over from another project, 3 coats of minwax polyurethane was applied to give a very durable finish. to get the best finish be sure to follow the directions on the can and sand between coats.
The top gets secured to the frame with small screws screwed through the corner and center supports.
Step 5: Apply Your Logo & Enjoy
All that's left is to enjoy a great new piece of furniture!
And the best part about it. It only cost me my time.