Introduction: Make a Mid-Century Modern Style Coffee Table Easy & Cheap
This instructable will show you how to easily and inexpensively make a mid-century modern inspired coffee table.
It can be modified easily to fit your decor requirements in both size and color.
This is a Christmas gift for my wife, so we went with a dark stain and red interior to match our living room.
I have included a few tips, tricks, or hacks to help save time, improve accuracy, and enhance your look.
Step 1: The Main Ingredients for This Design
- A pocket hole system, like a Kreg Jig.
- Laminated (pre-glued up) pine wood panels
(These are currently cheaper at Home Depot than actually gluing up the panels myself)
- Tapered legs and angle leg mount hardware (both available at Home Depot and in varied lengths)
- A drill and saw (circular saw or table saw)
- Stain and paint of your choice along with painters tape
- Measuring tape and straight edge
- Wood glue and pocket hole plugs (optionally, wood filler)
Step 2: Layout, Cutting & Sanding
First, you want to decide the length and width you are going to build. Since the wood panels I bought were 18 inches wide, I kept that width for the table. It is a pretty average coffee table width. We are also down sizing from a previous table that was really big, so I made the length 38 inches, seemed pretty reasonable compared to our couch length. I also wanted about 7 inches of clearance between the top and bottom shelf. I marked my lines according to those measurements. Using a cross-cut sled on my table saw, I cut 2 lengths at 38 inches and 2 sides at 7 inches. You could also use a circular saw to do this.
It is much easier to do most of your sanding after making the initial cuts, so this is the time to do it.
Step 3: Pocket Hole Time
Two pocket holes are drilled on each end (top and bottom of inside face) of the short piece, evenly spaced and on 1 side of your center piece.
Apply wood glue along the edges of the short pieces. It helps to use a couple of clamps here to line up your edges before drilling. After aligning, clamping, and drilling, Insert some pocket hole plugs with a little wood glue.
After the wood glue was dry I used some wood filler to fill any gaps between the plugs and the drilled holes. Once the wood filler was dry, I sanded over those drilled areas to make smooth.
Step 4: Mounting the Table Legs
Now we can mount the leg hardware and legs. A speed square can help you find the center of your corner angles quickly and accurately, but is not completely necessary. Once you have marked the locations you want your legs identically on each corner you can mount your leg hardware with the 4 screws provided with each bracket. Make sure the low side angle of each bracket is facing out from each corner.
Now you can attach your legs to each bracket by just screwing them in by hand.
Step 5: Tape, Stain, and Polyurethane the Outside
Apply your painters tape to the inside edge of the table and the metal caps at the foot of the legs. Try to keep your lines and edges straight and tight.
Apply your stain. I am using a Min-Wax Jacobean oil based stain, but you can change to whatever color you like. Allow the stain to sit for about 10-15 minutes and then wipe off any excess.
Once your stain has had a chance to dry overnight you can begin your polyurethane finish. I am using a Min-Wax brand quick drying high gloss also oil based. I applied 4 coats, lightly sanding with 400 grit sandpaper between coats. Make sure to follow your poly brands dry time instructions. Also, be sure to use long even strokes and a quality brush for the best results.
Step 6: Tape and Paint the Inside
Once your poly is dry remove your tape from the inside and apply new strips to the outside edge. Keep your lines tight and straight.
It is not necessary, but I am applying a coat of primer before painting so I don't have to use multiple coats. After that dries, I apply my paint. I am using a Valspar gloss cherry red latex. I am also adding a little bit of a product called Floetrol to help eliminate any brush marks left behind. It's not necessary to use it, but it will improve your look. As with the poly application, you should use long even stokes when applying your paint.
Step 7: Remove the Tape and You Are Done
Time to remove the tape and check your table out. If there is any paint that made it onto the poly coated portions of the table you can easily remove it with a product called Goof Off. It's available at pretty much any hardware store. It will take off the paint without damaging your poly finish.
Time to place it in your living room and enjoy.
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