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

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)
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SabinaCowan2 months 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?

SabinaCowan2 months ago


I get so impressed with renos like this!

Wonderful job.

kraftykyles5 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 ?
BrianD56 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!7 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 ballman77 months ago

LOVE IT! Make me one. Lol

lofgren (author)  ballman77 months ago
Great job! Looks awesome!
ledshed2 years ago
Fantastic! I'm amazed I've never seen them for sale!
MrBillG59 ledshed7 months ago

They are for sale and they are quite expensive!

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.ohara3 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.ohara3 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 Books5 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.
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