Introduction: Natural Rock Coffee Table

This summer we refurbished our arbor and outdoor sitting area, and one improvement we made was investing in some high quality patio chairs. The complete set included a matching coffee table, but it was so expensive that we just got the chairs. This got us thinking about making our own coffee table to accent the chairs.

After some brainstorming, we decided that a natural rock table would look nice. The frames of the patio chairs are black metal, so we figured a simple black steel stand made out of square tubing would look good.

This rock coffee table is a great weekend project because it only takes a couple hours of work, and the result is functional and extremely professional looking. 

Another great thing about this project is it only cost about $60 in materials!

Step 1: Choosing the Rock

On Saturday morning we headed over to our local rock supplier (Shamrock) and sifted through their flagstone selection. It took about 40 minutes to find a piece that was the right shape, size, and color. Our rock was 65 pounds and only cost 15 dollars. We also purchased some brush-on sealant because since we are using the rock as a coffee table, we didn’t want spilled drinks to stain it.

Step 2: Seal the Rock

Follow the instructions on the sealant and seal the rock. We got a water-based sealant and applied two coats with paint brushes. It was super easy to put on, and didn’t change the color or texture of the rock at all. The sealant definitely works because after we applied it, water droplets beaded up instead of absorbing into the surface.

Step 3: The Stand

The stand was entirely made of 1 inch steel square tubing. We got our steel from Orchard Supply Hardware, but most hardware stores like Home Depot or Lowes have this material.
We used a combination of a cutoff wheel on a hand held grinder and a bandsaw to make all the cuts in the metal. We used our 120 Volt Hobart MIG welder to tack and weld everything together.

We used some paper to trace out a design of the stand directly on the rock. We chose a triangular stand instead of a rectangular one because one: the rock is more of a triangle than a rectangle, and two: tripods are stable on uneven surfaces. This second reason was more important to us because this table will be sitting on uneven brick, and we didn’t want to have to constantly adjust and shim the legs to prevent the table from tipping and rocking side to side.

The one downside of making a triangle stand is that there are some funky angles that need to be cut into the steel cross pieces (the pieces spanning between the legs).

The pictures will illustrate this better then a textual explanation, but this is basically how we tackled this problem of cutting weird angles: We tacked one cross piece to each leg, which gave us the entire stand in three pieces (each piece being a leg and a cross piece). Then we took these three pieces and arranged them on the paper template, and using a ruler and sharpie, marked the correct angle onto the cross pieces so they would match up nicely with the adjacent leg. After these angles were cut, we tacked the whole thing together, and once it was assembled, then we went back over each joint and welded the whole joint.

After cleaning the metal with some steel wool, we applied two coats of semi-gloss black metal spray paint. Done!

Step 4: Install and Admire Your Work

Simple position the stand where you want the table, and then set the rock on top. The rock is heavy enough and there is enough friction between the stand and the rock that it won't move around.

If you really want, you could glue some thin foam padding on top of the stand to provide some cushion, or glue blocks underneath the rock so it registers with the stand and prevents sliding. It works fine as is though!


Comments

author
RebelWithoutASauce made it! (author)2013-08-16

Really nice table you have there. The three-leg design is particularly inspired; I have seen much wobbly patio furniture with four legs. Also, leaving the rock detachable probably makes it much easier to move.

I will probably be using your table design if I can get past the metalworking aspect. I am sure some oak legs could hold up a stone slab but I think the metal works better functionally and aesthetically here.

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espdp2 made it! (author)2013-08-12

Are there any sort of feet on those metal legs? I didn't see. They might scratch up your new brick pavers, but more importantly, there is that horrendous noise when you move the table. Eeek!

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Sam DeRose made it! (author)Sam DeRose2013-08-15

Thats a great idea! It never even occurred to me. I think McMaster's has some plastic tube plugs that would work well... Thanks for the suggestion!

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hud2000 made it! (author)2013-08-01

Hey Sam, are you in any of those pictures? And if you are, who are those other people?

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Sam DeRose made it! (author)Sam DeRose2013-08-01

Im the one in the green shirt and doing the spray painting. The other guy is my dad.

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kinderdm made it! (author)2013-07-31

This is gorgeous. Where do you find a rock supplier though. I didn't even know such a thing existed. Very nice work and for a great price too.

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Sam DeRose made it! (author)Sam DeRose2013-07-31

You could call some contractors and ask where they get 'flagstone' rocks to pave pathways, driveways, etc. Flagstone rocks come in big pallet bundles (as seen in the photos) but you can purchase individual pieces too.

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shazni made it! (author)2013-07-31

Lovely!..... Wonder if we have a rock supplier ??? We live in the city... And I have never seen such a supplier :-(

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Sam DeRose made it! (author)Sam DeRose2013-07-31

You could call some contractors and ask where they get 'flagstone' rocks to pave pathways, driveways, etc. Flagstone rocks come in big pallet bundles (as seen in the photos) but you can purchase individual pieces too.

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juliadee made it! (author)2013-07-30

Perfect, thanks! I don't know why I didn't think of this as a replacement for our rotting wood flitch. Adding to the honey-do list asap :-)

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danzo321 made it! (author)danzo3212013-07-30

flitch?

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juliadee made it! (author)juliadee2013-07-30

A longitudinal cut from the trunk of a tree, i.e. a slab of wood. Buy 'em from sawmills, use for tables, mantelpieces, etc.

flitch1.jpg
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kinderdm made it! (author)kinderdm2013-07-31

Ooh, these look like an attractive alternative to the rock table, which I love btw. Its just that with small ones running around that table looks awful sharp on the edges. Wood could be rounded at the edges more easily. You said yours was rotting, if sealed how long could they last though?

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juliadee made it! (author)juliadee2013-07-31

If you seal it and maintain it (reseal every few years) it should last a long time indeed. I've had mine for 10 years and I picked it up used - the previous owner probably had it for years too. It's been utterly neglected all the time I've had it, but is still usable, just looking a bit ratty. Could probably bring it back with a sander...

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veruca_salt890 made it! (author)2013-07-31

So pretty! I want something like this in my house. lol Thanks for the instructable!

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Very Interesting made it! (author)2013-07-30

Beautiful!

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binchen5177 made it! (author)2013-07-30

Wonderfull. Great Job . Nice steps. Great

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M.C. Langer made it! (author)2013-07-30

That's awesome!

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Sam DeRose made it! (author)Sam DeRose2013-07-30

Thanks Mario!

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Jenn_Baum made it! (author)2013-07-30

Beautimus!!! Great work! Thx for sharing!

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markc310 made it! (author)2013-07-29

My son welded me a stand for a naturally rectangular rock I found several years ago and we use it for a garden bench/patio table.
I couldn't see in your pics if you have a gap between the stone & the legs. Mine does and I have heck of a time keeping yellow jackets from building their hives in that hole.
Yours looks great!

author
Sam DeRose made it! (author)Sam DeRose2013-07-30

The bottom of our stone slab is very flat. If there are gaps they probably are on the millimeter scale. Thanks for the heads up though, we definitely have yellow jackets in our yard so I'll keep an eye out for nests there.

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r_harris2 made it! (author)r_harris22013-07-30

Maybe you could fill the gap with silicone caulk. It lasts a really long time in outdoor conditions, and it should be able to attach to both the steel and the unfinished underside of the rock.

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danzo321 made it! (author)2013-07-30

Looks great. I seem to remember (making odd-shaped table) tracing the top, and figuring where the axes were (dividing lines the stone or slab would balance on). Anyway, decided legs did not have to be so close to the edges to be safe. I was working on irregular wood slab.

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Sam DeRose made it! (author)Sam DeRose2013-07-30

Thanks! Yeah I was surprised how sturdy it is. We will be resting our feet and possibly heavy platters on it though so I think it was worth going a little wider with the legs.

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blastedcelt made it! (author)2013-07-30

Beautiful...the only thing I would have done would be to round off the pointed knee and shin grabbers on the corners. A couple beverages and I can see myself bumping into the corners and causing major bruises....just like the corners of the dishwasher when the door is down. Ouch....

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Sam DeRose made it! (author)Sam DeRose2013-07-30

My mom voiced similar concerns, I think I'll be filing them down soon.

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Eh Lie Us! made it! (author)2013-07-30

Wow great work. Congrats on an awesome table!

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Exocetid made it! (author)2013-07-30

Professional looking? Good grief, you would pay through the schnoz for something like this at a high-end gallery. That table is gorgeous--FLW would approve.

I would have preferred a weld-less solution to the stand, though.

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Danger is my middle name made it! (author)2013-07-29

This is beautiful! It looks professionally built!

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Bio: I'm a senior at Harvey Mudd in Claremont California. This past summer I worked at Make Magazine. I love working out and eating well ... More »
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