Picture of Coffee table upgrade!
Summary: Extra storage and a top that raises up to meet you - and your needs!

What's the job of a coffee table these days?
Rest your drinks on?
A stable surface for the odd TV dinner?
Rest your feet on?
How about storage?
What about laptops? Ever bent over your coffee table to use your laptop? How about sitting on the floor and trying it?

Several years ago, we bought a coffee table that was pretty much what we wanted.
It was large, rustic-looking and solidly built.. but a bit high!

We'd find that we'd sit back on the couch at the end of the day and put our feet up, only to find the coffee table was so much higher than the seat of the couch that it would soon be biting into our achilles tendons.

It was last day of my holidays and I found myself sitting back, watching "Hot Fuzz". After shuffling my legs about on the table trying to get comfortable I thought it was about time to put a long held plan into action.....

So, I checked with the boss and she liked the sound of my idea - mod the coffee table or get a new one!

-Lower the coffee table
-Add storage area/s
-Add some kind of funky lid to get to the storage areas
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Step 1: What you'll need..

Picture of What you'll need..
Tools I used..
Screw drivers (electric driver/drill makes this more fun)
Pinch/wrecker bar or something similarly thin and strong to prevent you bending your screw driver.
Old blanket to catch splintered wood, screws, scraps and keep the boss happy ;)
Oh, and ear protection (hammering the pinch bar and smacking at the wood from the underside of the table generated a fair bit of noise and caused my ears to ring before I grabbed the 'muffs)

Parts required to make something similar at your place..
A similar table to start with ;) - Something with a fairly heavy base if you are going to make it open up..
Nyloc nuts
Hardwood for the cantilever hinge
Any extra wood required for shelves etc.
Replacement wood for any bits you damage
(I had to sacrifice the top routed edging as it was nailed and glued to the table and the table top)
SabinaCowan1 month ago

question: The hinges are wonderful, but I want something a little controlled to move it slowly up and down.

Do you think the pressurized door hinges, like the ones you get for hatch backs on cars doors might do the trick?

SabinaCowan1 month ago


I get so impressed with renos like this!

Wonderful job.

kraftykyles4 months ago
Love this so much I'm only a DIY L Plater lol but I'm going to give it a try also Thank sucks that some low life is selling your plans for this I hope you are able to stop them and High five ? to solobo for letting you know Keep the awesome ideas coming Cheers ?
BrianD55 months ago

Hey man, REALLY diggin' this project. Planning to do one for myself. But I have a question, how do I go about creating the hinges so they'll move the table-top to a specified height & distance out from the original table, so it works perfectly with the seat height of my couch?

ballman7 made it!6 months ago

Decided to make one from scratch! Turned out beautiful! Still leaving the option of adding trim at the bottom but for now I love it! Thanks for posting!

coffee table.jpg
cburns10 ballman76 months ago

LOVE IT! Make me one. Lol

lofgren (author)  ballman76 months ago
Great job! Looks awesome!
ledshed2 years ago
Fantastic! I'm amazed I've never seen them for sale!
MrBillG59 ledshed6 months ago

They are for sale and they are quite expensive!

lori.a.brown11 months ago

I bought a lift top coffee table which I love except that it hinges up way too high to comfortably use my laptop. Anyone have an idea for modifying the height?

solobo1 year ago

Hey, just saw your instructions for sale on listia. This guy grabbed one of my instructables and sold it without permission as well.


lofgren (author)  solobo1 year ago
Hmm. Thanks.
evaldes31 year ago
where did you find the wood for the hinges where can I find that at
mikeyloe251 year ago
This coffee table is amazing! It is by far my favorite design/idea.
Andsetinn1 year ago
Really nice. I've been thinking about converting my coffee table to a big chest (I live in a really small apartment at the moment and need all the storage I can find). It would be neat to make the lid cantilevered.
caarntedd1 year ago
Wow! I'm making one of these! How much weight can you put on the open top before the base starts to tip over? And why am I looking at this i'ble in the Thanksgiving food section?
BasRutten1 year ago
That couch looks familiar
Great idea using the cantilever hinges! What did you use for a stop? Does the front part of the hinge just rest against the inside of the box, or did you add a metal stop or something?
polerix2 years ago
making one.
mburner2 years ago
smitscot2 years ago
Is there a way you could attach a door piston so that it would close slowly? That would avoid slamming and possible damage. Really great idea and instructable!
matt.ohara2 years ago
Thanks for the guide! Looks great and I'm definitely going to try and make one of my own.

One question I had though. How do you stop the hinges from continuing to swing? It's a little hard to tell but do they just stop because they resting up against the box of the coffee table when it is open?

lofgren (author)  matt.ohara2 years ago
Correct, just rests against the side. You could put a rubber buffer there but it isn't necessary.
Terri1ND3 years ago
I love tables like this. I was given a table that does the same thing & I love it. I have trouble standing for very long & so this helps so much. We eat at it every night (now that the kids are grown & gone) while watching tv.
I find I also do alot of prep work for cooking at my coffee table now as well. I take my cutting board & bowls & go to work while watching tv. I especially love it when I have to make huge batches of potato salad & I sit there & take care of all the prep work there. It works wonderful for me. My 2 yr old grandson came to visit & I had put lunch on the table & had planned for him to sit beside me, but he sat on the other side of the table where the top lifted up from & he enjoyed his lunch at the right height for him. (Just don't leave it unattended with a child around while it is up). We had no problems, but it is just a thought to be safe.
Biggsy4 years ago
Just spotted this, this is awesome... well done... I would love one

High Five for you
I understand how the hinges are made, b7ut how and where are they attached into the coffee table.

What are they attached to?
lofgren (author)  Tsu Dho Nimh4 years ago
I'd hope you've worked it out by now, but if not, check out the photos in Step 4 and the last photo in Step 7 :)
I love this projects, but I'm still stuck on this point to. I understand where the hinges go, but how are they attached to the table top and sides? nails, screw, glue, dowels, biscuits? Maybe I just missed it somewhere.
offseid5 years ago
Hey thanks for posting this. I especially appreciate your DIY hinges, since the setup most people use (from Lee Valley) costs $160! I do have one question about the hinges. Okay, maybe two.

1. So the hinges butting up against the table is basically how you determine how far the table comes towards you, right?
2. Have you seen any wear and tear on your hinges as they keep banging up against the table top? Are they getting dented up? I suppose you could file away the inside of the table top right where the hinge meets the table, so it meets a flat surface instead of a corner.

Anyway, I'd appreciate your thoughts!
If you are worried about wear and tear you could always attach a wedge-shaped block of wood just in front of where the lever connects to the bottom support rail, where the angle of the wedge is the exact angle of the lever arms just before they hit the edge of the box.  This will catch and support the rails instead of the front edge of the table.

You just have to be sure it isn't taller than the two rails when closed, and that it won't get in the path of the top rail as it is coming down.  As a bonus if you put four of these in (one for each rail) and you measured everything just right it would add a lot of stability to the top when opened.
lofgren (author)  offseid5 years ago
1 - I think you are confirming that the inner edge of the table becomes the stopper and the extent of the table-top's travel?

There are a few variables that determine how far the table extends towards you, as well as the height of the extended table.
These include:
-the length of the arms
-the height at which they attach to the inside of the table
-the distance they attach/pivot from the inside edge that is closest to you
-the distance from the edge that they attach to the table top itself
If I remembered maths from school there is probably a simple equation that would explain it - personally I just used a couple of bits of scrap wood and laid them out in the shape of the hinge to work out the travel :)

You will also find in testing that these lengths and distances will be limited to what will actually fit inside the table.

2 - Nope, haven't noticed any wear and tear. But we don't extend the table every time we use it. One of my goals for this project was to lower the table as well so that we could put our feet up on on it ;)
The wood I used for the hinge is hardwood and the inner edge of the box that forms the table is pine, so any wear is likely to be seen there.
If it was a worry, you could sand the angle of the edge as suggested and or include some kind of rubber to form a stopper.
kenbob4 years ago
I love this. it is uber geeky i must say, but folds away into presentable decor. brilliant.
ongara_014 years ago
Wow...great man. EXCELLENT job you do..
Dr.Bill4 years ago
Very nice. My friend has a production model made some 10 years ago.
jscott1194 years ago
just saw this instructable and wanted to say it is a great idea, i plan on using the DIT hinges in the coffee table I'm going to build. You saved me $160 buck by not buyin gthe specialty hardware instead, so thanks.
Excellent I really like it, more importantly so does my better half & you obviously know how important that is ;-)
I have been thinking about a table for our living room which is not as big as we would like so I prefer most furniture to fulfil more than one need & this is just the job.
I have in mind a mod for a seagrass chest with the structure & storage built into it, I may also include an idea from falconsabre about incorporating a power supply as I have also experienced mishaps with trailing cords.
Have you entered it into the woodworking competition yet?
I just saw the date on some of the other comments, I guess entering it into the current woodworking competition would not be an option would it :-)
are you at all interested in seeing what other people's outcomes are from following your instructable?
lofgren (author)  Building Books4 years ago
Yeah, of course! Please share :)
jeffeb35 years ago
If you are cutting the drawer faces out of the stock for the side, you could make clean, wide cuts and then use some decorative trim glued/tacked to the outside of the drawer front to thicken it up.  A lot o drawer faces have a ~1/8th in bull nose piece of trim because the face is made of plywood.
ebrperk15 years ago
 Great Idea, the finished product looks really good. This instructable will definitely be copied several times
Again Great Job
lofgren (author) 5 years ago
Thanks again for the positive comments :)
I've been looking for a little while now. I can't seem to find a really cheap coffee table that I can do this to. I may have to end up just buying a table for the top and build my own box for it. Thanks for the Instructable, now it's time for you to post another one.
lofgren (author)  foothillfrontier5 years ago
Hey, have you considered using plywood for the top?
Usually one side will be decent enough to sand/finish nicely.
To hide the layered edges (unless you want to go for that industrial look), you could put some wooden trim around them. This will both look nicer (than plain plywood) and will appear thicker (depending on how you do it).

Thanks for your enthusiasm :) I have a couple of other posts to put together when I get the time.
keiou5 years ago
 masterfully done. thanks
amplex5 years ago
amazing, beautiful piece of very functional art =]
courtney8255 years ago
I was shopping today at a local furniture store and i saw a table almost identical to this for $800, i fell in love but my wallet kept telling me no! I am so glad i didnt buy it! Im going to add this to my projects this summer for the new house! Crazy i ran across this the same day i almost bought that table! thanks!! 
northie5 years ago

I have to say that the rebuilt coffee table looks better than the original.  You did a great job!

odelagarza5 years ago
excellent job!!!, I love this instructable
arhodes185 years ago
 haha, I love that you were watching "Hot Fuzz"!
Knuxz5 years ago
Beautiful idea! You want it to be more comfortable next time you watch Hot Fuzz, or maybe Shuan of the Dead right? XD
avaireka5 years ago
Simply fantastic. A few quick questions...

With the hinges, are the closest of the "vertical hinge pieces" just resting on the inside front of the table?

Is it easy to lift and lower? I assume, when closing, once the table lid goes past the apex it'll have a tendancy to want to slam shut?

lofgren (author)  avaireka5 years ago
Yes, the hinges rest on the table structure when opened. Though, you could change your design to have rests instead.

It is pretty easy to lift and lower. I have done it with full plates of food and hot drinks on top. The beauty of the cantilever design means it stays flat the whole time.

Shortening the vertical arms will make the apex lower and therefore even easier to open.
Fritzed5 years ago
This is off-topic, but I was wondering if anyone knows where I can get corner braces like on this coffee table.  I really like the look of the table itself, even before the addition of the raised top.
kctgreat6 years ago
ingenious! i was going to order a coffeetable/desk for my very small condo, but it's really expensive to import one to thailand. now i can make one myself w/the help of my carpenter uncle! maybe he'll be able to sell some himself! everyone said they haven't seen the like before! thanks!!
jakezcop6 years ago
improvement on ur desighn... maby... if the table doesnt have the little slide out box to store stuff, you could make like a storage compartment under the table top. i dunno thats just how ours is...
rosewood5136 years ago
I have a pop up table and it is getting old, thanks for showing me there IS a way to redo it.
frazeeg6 years ago
Very nicely done. Sounds like something I'll have to try.
slysimon6 years ago
Fantastic idea. I'm going to see if I can find something similar to mod. It's just the job for when I'm working at home in front of the goggle box. Thanks for sharing.
mattnews226 years ago
I am buying a house and am upgrading my entertainment center in the process. I will be using my HP desktop, which happens to be a media center (upgraded w/ Radeon 4870) as the main media source. I didn't want to sacrifice my 2nd monitor so have been "designing" an LCD mounted in a coffee table. The difference in my goal and most others is I want the screen at a 45 degree angle, which is hard to do and make look good. Looking at this, I see new possibilities. I could do this basic mod or build it custom and the monitor mounted with some for of rising hinge system. Have a piece of glass to see the monitor in closed position and have it cone up to a view able angle when raised. TO GOOGLE SKETCH-UP! Thanks for the idea!
nachobobs6 years ago
I liked the bit about Hot Fuzz
AnneKoneska6 years ago
I saw a table just like this on sale at a franchise furniture store and they wanted nearly 2 grand for it (USD)!!! This is a very good alternative if you have even a little know how! Good job!
FaqMan6 years ago
Love how this is set-up and all but where did you get the coffee table?
lofgren (author)  FaqMan6 years ago
Firstly, I live in Australia. ..I bought this from a small furniture store called Coopers. Not sure if it exists anymore. I believe it was made locally at the time. It was made to look a little rough, to give it that "early settler" or "frontier" feel. The table top initially had several dints in it and they'd given it a very rough sand before sealing it. It also had the nail gun holes exposed without any wood filler etc.
FaqMan lofgren6 years ago
Oh ok then thanks for the info
falconsabre6 years ago
nice design, i thought maybe have wired in outlets on it on both sides and then have one extension that runs under couch to supply power, lost a laptop once to someone tripping on the cord, yikes but i love the design, so many possibilities with it, nice job
mcshawnboy6 years ago
Go to rockler.com to buy a spring loaded mechanism used in the expensive units. They have a lot of handy items. I like the Miller stepped dowel system.
klee27x6 years ago
This is spectacular, but it leaves so many unanswered questions... Why can't I buy this at the store? Why doesn't this have 5 stars yet? When will this be "featured?" Great work and thanks so much for sharing. I will definitely be making one of these some day if IKEA doesn't do it first. I think if you put a picture of the finished table in the open position on it, this thing would echo around the world. :) As it is, there's no hint of how neat this is until you reach the very end!
There are commercial ones available. I had a friend who had one so I looked into it.....EXPENSIVE. I'm moving to a new place this weekend and then I am making one of these as soon as settled in. Good instructable and good idea.
Not sure where you're located, but here in Colorado, AFW has these types of coffee tables for the same basic rate as the regular ones - and about 1/3 to maybe 1/2 of all of their coffee tables are these kind. And have been for at least 2 years. Not to diminish the DIY version, which uses hand made cantilevers versus the locking spring mechanism the mass manufactured units have. While not as smooth/easy to use or as "baby safe", I think the DIY approach is much more elegant!
I would think that there could be a way to put a pair of dowel rods or something similar from the lower point of the hinges to the upper table portion "propping" the upper portion into position. Perhaps make 2 small pockets in the wood for the rods to somewhat "snap" into. Keeping them parallel to the hinge uprights would also make them less likely to be knocked out, and they could be kept in the storage portion when not in use! One on either side would do the trick! =)

Thats it! I'm making one!
cory.smith6 years ago
Seriously, this is awesome. I would go with a little bit of the same stain treatment on the hinge arms when I get around to making one of these. That would make the whole thing seem much more "put together". It looks like you might have enough room to keep 2" or so worth of stuff in the table? Maybe a chess set and some cards? All around, this is a very nice piece.
Ikotoo6 years ago
Wow! your craftsmanship is astounding. great idea.
aristocob6 years ago
Well done. We have a table that I've been considering doing just this exact hack to for some time. My wife better not see this.
This is just great! Good Job. I have a table like this I bought at Staples. It's standard Mission Style, but I like yours better. It has more character. I can't wait to do one of my own.
Yoooder6 years ago
Would you mind posting the basic dimensions of this? I'm considering building one from scratch and was wondering what the size of the main "box" is (without the trim), the height, and the size of the top.
rc jedi6 years ago
6monkeyRS6 years ago
This is great. Maybe a little project to start next year!....
QuinnRenaud6 years ago
I love these tables. My bother has one, but it's a little different. It has an open bottom, instead of a drawer, but still has the "top" under the Pull-out top. It's the coolest thing!
chiok6 years ago
Excellent work. Your attention to sanding, stripping and staining are really apparent in the finished product. It looks really nice!
lofgren (author) 6 years ago
Hey, thanks people :) ..and thanks for the mention Eric! mmmdonut: I was the same - had this idea about 3-4 years ago and kept putting it off. Definitely worth the effort though.
ewilhelm6 years ago
This project was mentioned in Popular Mechanics's 10 DIY Gifts for Friends and Family.
Glory theft is a man rule foul
The_Beast6 years ago
Very cool looking coffee table even without the lifting feature
xboxteen016 years ago
great job
I just saw this on popular mechanics...it's awesome!
that's nice, I would love to have one of these
mmmdonut6 years ago
Another option is a pop-up table mechanismpop-up table mechanism which you can order from Lee Valley. It is definitely a more expensive option than your cantilever, but it locks the table into place, ensuring that little fingers don't get pinched when playing around the table. It also ensures that you'll never knock the lid down with a full glass on top.

That said, well done on this project. I've been thinking of building a coffee table with the same features for a while, but I keep finding too many other projects to distract me.
blam726 years ago
Outstanding idea and well done Instructable. Thanks for sharing.
mowdish6 years ago
My only complaint about this is that you published it 4 days late. I just finished making a storage-space coffee table and I would have done something entirely different if I had seen yours first. Now, as I lean over my coffee table to write this message, I think, "this should have been better." Nice work.
lofgren (author) 6 years ago
Thanks for the comments and recommendations people :) I've placed the last picture first to give people a better idea what it is about, and moved the "before" picture to step two.
SWV17876 years ago
how much weight can it hold when extended?
lofgren (author)  SWV17876 years ago
This has been asked twice in quick succession, but I'll answer it here. In short, I haven't tested, but I would say a fair bit.. We've had full dinner plates, drinks and two laptops sitting on the table top beyond the outer edge of the box below. It will be weakest in the center of the outer edge and strongest over the cantilever arms. So long as the weight on the outer edge of the open top doesn't exceed the weight in the opposite edge of the base, it won't tip over. This can be increased by putting more junk in the drawer or shortening the cantilever arms, reducing the overhang and lowering the center of gravity ;) The wood used for the cantilevers is hardwood and about 2 inches x 3/4 inch thick, so it is pretty strong. That, and it rests against the inside of the box while it is open, giving it more stability. The bolts I used are 1/4inch diameter. I was pleasantly surprised by how stable it is while open
GENIUSMAXX6 years ago
You could simply shorten the cantilevers to drop the height of the table, kinda moot now that it is back together but I built a small step-ladder box thing a while ago and that did the trick....
lofgren (author)  GENIUSMAXX6 years ago
Yep certainly. Would also need to change where the cantilevers attach to the horizontal beams, otherwise it won't close.
Danielfish6 years ago
That's a great mod. Inspiring. :) I'm also curious; how much weight will it support when opened?
gmjhowe6 years ago
That works extremely well! great for people who like a good lounge internet browsing session.
charred6 years ago
fantastic idea and work.