Introduction: Ouija Coffee Table

Picture of Ouija Coffee Table

I wanted a cool, unique coffee table for my house, but couldn't find anything that I liked in my price range. My goal for this project was to keep costs to a minimum and keep the structural design fairly simple, but ultimately wanted a fun project and conversational piece. I was inspired by old Ouija Board designs, which had wonderful curved typefaces and intricate illustrations. This was a fun project and cost me around $120 to complete, and requires only basic tools.

Step 1: Materials and Tools

Picture of Materials and Tools

The table structure is very basic, I tried to use readily available sizes of wood that would require little to no cutting. I chose stain-grade pine for my table, but other types and sizes could be substituted.


5/4" x 24" x 48" Pine panel (1)
21 1/4" Pine table legs (4)
3/4" x 3 1/2" x 96" Pine boards (2)
1 1/2" Screws (1 box) - Or glue, dowels, biscuits, etc.
0000 Fine steel wool
Mason jar
Several brushes or rags
Sand paper (coarse, medium, and fine)
Acrylic Gel Medium (available at art supply stores)
Water-based Polyurethane

Miter saw (Or hand saw, table saw, etc.)
Drill/screw driver
Access to laser printer
Computer with image editing software
Exacto knife or scissors
Brayer, roller or spoon

Other helpful tools (not required):
Power sander
Light table
Pocket hole jig

Step 2: Design and Planning

Picture of Design and Planning

Once you know the size of the table top, you can start planning your design. I started with a pencil sketch and later scanned and traced my design in the computer.

Tip: When setting up the color black in your image editing software, it is a good idea to crank up all of the CMYK sliders to ensure that your printer lays down the densest amount of toner on the paper possible. This will increase your chances of having a bold transfer to the wood table top later on.

Edit: I have gotten several requests to post my vector design, so here it is. Please only use it for non-commercial purposes. Thanks!
Download PDF Here

Step 3: Image Preparation

Picture of Image Preparation

Please note, it is very important that a laser printer is used, as an inkjet will not work for this type of image transfer.

It is also very important that your image be mirrored prior to printing, especially if your design has text, because everything will be reversed after the image transfer!

This part of the project will vary depending on the printing size capabilities of your laser printer. In a perfect world I would be able to print the entire design on a single 24" x 48" sheet of paper, but chances are this will not be the case. The largest size of sheet I could use in the printer at my work was 11" x 17". In the print dialog of your image editing software, select the "tile" function. I was able to fit my design on 9 sheets of 11" x 17" paper.

Next, carefully trim the prints right up to the edge of the image with an Exacto knife or scissors. Then, align and tile the images together and tape the seams from the back of the prints. Make sure that no tape covers the front, as it would not allow the transfer to work properly. This step is made much easier if you have access to a light table. In a pinch, you could hold the sheets up to a window in the daytime.

Step 4: Cutting Wood

Picture of Cutting Wood

Cut two of each of the following sizes from the two long boards using a miter saw or whatever saw is available:

41 5/8" (2)
18" (2)


Step 5: Wood Joints

Picture of Wood Joints

 For joining the wood I have a pocket hole jig from Harbor Freight that I really like, and have used for lots of projects. Alternatively, you could use glue, dowels, biscuits, dovetails, etc.

Step 6: Table Assembly

Picture of Table Assembly

First attach the legs to the frame and then attach the frame to the table top. I used a little bit of wood glue on the tops of the legs. If you use glue, make sure to clean up any excess to ensure that the stain will penetrate the wood later on. Having a few clamps on hand is really helpful for this part.

Step 7: Sanding

Picture of Sanding

Sand everything smooth starting with heavy grit and working your way up to a fine grit. A powered palm sander can save you some time during this step if you have one available.

After sanding, I took some tools and put some dents randomly on the table to soak up the stain and create an antiqued look.

Step 8: Staining

Picture of Staining

I wanted to use a non-toxic and oil-free stain to ensure that the transfer would adhere properly to the wood. I found a recipe to create a stain that would darken and give an aged look to the finish that works really well.

To make the stain, take your mason jar and insert a piece of 0000 Steel Wool. Then pour enough vinegar to cover the steel wool. Set aside with the lid slightly ajar for a few days. The steel wool will start to dissolve and bubble, changing the vinegar orange and brown.

Take a scrap of extra wood to test the vinegar solution. This creates a reddish brown stain. You can also brew up a cup of black tea and combine it with the vinegar solution, causing a reaction for a gray stain. I experimented with both, but ultimately decided to only use the vinegar stain.

Use a brush or rag to apply stain to your table and let it dry overnight.

After the table is dry, you may need to re-sand a little bit if the stain caused wood grain to expand.

Step 9: Image Transfer

Picture of Image Transfer

Use a tack cloth or clean rag to make sure the table top is completely free of dust. Lay your laser print face down to align it to the table top. Tape one of the sides down to the table, this is to make sure the image stays centered to the table during the transfer.

Roll the paper back and apply the acrylic gel medium to the table top. You must work fairly quickly as it will dry somewhat quickly.

Then, starting from taped end of the laser print, carefully roll the image onto the table while using your brayer, roller or spoon to avoid bubbles and to make sure that the laser print adheres properly to the table top. With the print in place, use the brayer to flatten any spots with bubbles. Let dry overnight.

After the gel medium has completely dried, remove the tape from the back of the paper. Then dampen the surface of the paper and use your fingers or a sponge to rub the paper away. The idea is that the damp paper will slough off, leaving the toner from the laser print embedded in the dry acrylic gel medium. This part of the project is pretty messy and time consuming, but is exciting to see your design start to emerge. Remove as much of the paper as possible, but try not to rub so much that your image comes off. Don't worry too much if some of the design rubs off, as you can touch if up afterwards with a Sharpie or paint pen. I decided not to touch up my design because I liked the distressed look.

Step 10: Sealing

Picture of Sealing

Almost done! Use a water-based Polyurethane to finish and protect your table. I put 5 coats on, lightly sanding and using a tack cloth between each coat to ensure a smooth finish.

Step 11: Final Thoughts

Picture of Final Thoughts

Done! Now show off your handiwork to your friends, use it to commune with the spirits, use it to display your collection of skulls, or use it for an intense game of Magic The Gathering!

Thank you for reading, I hope that you enjoyed my first Instructable!


ChattyPatti (author)2017-12-03

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! I’ve been looking all over for this type of stencil!!! And yours is absolutely stunning!! I can’t wait to try this! I found the perfect table at a flea market and think I’m getting a sander for Christmas, so I’ve got a project for the new year. I’ll let you know how it goes.

SarahP36 (author)2016-05-12

where can I get the design? How do I get a copy of the design so I can print it

purpletheory (author)SarahP362017-11-02

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

kylegeo24 (author)2016-09-04

What kind of medium did you use? I've been having where the stuff dries and turns white and what looks like a bunch of tiny airbubbles

purpletheory (author)kylegeo242017-11-02

Sorry about the late reply, been a while since I checked in. After you scrub the paper off, it will look pretty cloudy. It will become clear when the polyurethane is applied. Hope that helps.

MarkS596 (author)2016-09-19

I Love this design does anyone have a vector they can send me please ???

purpletheory (author)MarkS5962017-11-02

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

jpvmy made it! (author)2017-01-22

This is my result. I made a little more scruffy. Like itäs been used. (I have NOT used it)

purpletheory (author)jpvmy2017-11-02

Way cool, I like the distressed look!

MatthewP221 (author)2017-06-02

Heelo. Am I still able to get the design . The links not working! Cheers.

purpletheory (author)MatthewP2212017-11-02

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

traceym72 (author)2017-07-12

I'd love to be able to make this design but can't locate the file for it. any chance it's still available? thanks so much

My contact information is:

purpletheory (author)traceym722017-11-02

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

DaveB174 (author)2016-06-17

Sorry! I so want one of these, can someone please send me the design or where can i buy one

MarkS596 (author)DaveB1742016-09-19

Dave did you get the file ??

Mexicanwayjm (author)MarkS5962017-07-21

if you still have the file. could you please email it to me thank you

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

purpletheory (author)MarkS5962017-11-02

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

purpletheory (author)DaveB1742017-11-02

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

axecuter (author)2017-07-24

i can't get the vector file downloaded - link is not working - can anyone please be so kind and send me the design!?

purpletheory (author)axecuter2017-11-02

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

frank_oly (author)2017-07-29

Same here,

I'd love to make this but can't seem to download the design.

Help anybody?


purpletheory (author)frank_oly2017-11-02

Thanks for letting me know, the link has been updated.

arpanilla (author)2017-10-09

I just noticed you referenced MtG and that just makes me love this insturctable even more. I needed a coffee table this size to organize all my cards and build decks while I watch tv, this is perfect! Love the oujia board design, very spooky. I'll be going with a kraken design on mine. Now the acrylic medium you used; your photo shows just gloss medium but you mention gel. Both gel and non gel acrylic mediums exist and i'm just wondering if both will do the same job. Thanks for the instructable!

purpletheory (author)arpanilla2017-11-02

Hey! Thanks for the kind words, sorry about the gel confusion, maybe that's a misnomer. I have only tried the gloss acrylic medium, other types should work fine, the important thing is that you use prints made from a laser printer. I've been informed that PVA glue works well too.

lukesky333 (author)2017-10-18

the dropbox link to your vector file is broken. If possible please send it to

Thanks a lot..

Uvallie (author)2017-01-11

Take my money, I need this table!

There's one of those useful thin¯gs with cool symbolics, cause lately there are even apps with Ouija board. Though this Ouija game is cool!

DaveB174 (author)2016-06-17

I so wang one of these

JoeJ74 (author)2016-06-02

Do you commision this piece or have one available for sale?

VitoB8 (author)2016-05-06

Can use mod podge to transfer the picture? What is the best thing to use to transfer the picture? Thanks

purpletheory (author)VitoB82016-05-09

Yep, Mod Podge would work fine, other people have had really good results with PVA glue also. Good luck!

VitoB8 (author)purpletheory2016-05-09

Thank you!!

Ghostrider13 (author)2016-02-06

Only things I don't like is that there is no image to print out and the three sixes on the planchette. You need to point us to the graphics file for Photoshop., otherwise, cool. Thanks

lpk0311 (author)Ghostrider132016-05-03

what's wrong with the 666? And what's wrong with the pdf?

VitoB8 (author)2016-05-02

Anyone know where I can get a pine board. I've looked at Home Depot and lows but they don't have pine big enough. Thanks

SoniaM27 (author)2016-05-02

I am wondering, does the ink HAVE to be black? For instance, would this work with an image that has color or even grey shading? I want to do some with some images and get real creative with it.

purpletheory (author)SoniaM272016-05-02

Nice! I'm really glad it worked out after all!! Also, you can use colors, the important thing is that they are laser prints.

SoniaM27 made it! (author)2016-04-28

We made it, but it has been really hard to get the paper off after transferring the image. Our first attempt failed because after leaving the image to transfer in the acrylic, we tried to wipe the paper away the next morning and the design wiped away with it. Our second attempt, we let the image stay in the acrylic longer before trying to wipe away the paper. The image did stay, but we have been trying to get the paper off the table for weeks. It comes off in tiny little flakes but just keeps turning white when it dries. Did anyone else have this problem? Does anyone know what I can do to get the whiteness off of the table and design? The second image shows how it keeps turning white when it dries, no matter how much I have scrubbed away at the white paper. Thanks in advance for any help I can get

purpletheory (author)SoniaM272016-04-29

You shouldn't give up, it's looking really good so far! If you look at mine during that step, I was never able to get all of the paper off. Once you put the polyurethane on it will permanently look just like it did when it was wet. Hope that helps, good luck!!

SoniaM27 (author)purpletheory2016-05-02

Thank you so much. Thanks to your help, we are now finished :)

VitoB8 (author)2016-04-26

Where can I get the design printed? I don't have a printer.

SoniaM27 (author)VitoB82016-04-28

I got mine printed at the UPS store and it was very inexpensive

VitoB8 (author)SoniaM272016-04-28

How much was it? How big was it?

SoniaM27 (author)VitoB82016-04-29

24x48 and it was under $5 for 3 copies, but I don't remember exactly how much.

purpletheory (author)SoniaM272016-04-29

That's really good to know, Sonia! Thanks for the great tip!

VitoB8 (author)SoniaM272016-04-29

So I can go to any ups store? Didn't know they did printing thank you!

jturner30 (author)2013-11-04

Thank you so much for your tutorial! I just finished rubbing all the paper off mine... gonna do a few touch-ups around the edges and seal it up tonight. Very generous of you to include your design file-- I drew on it heavily for inspiration.

SoniaM27 (author)jturner302016-04-28

Would you please share how you were able to run the paper away? We have been trying for weeks and are just about ready to give up and just scrap the whole project. Thank you

Undeniable_1 (author)jturner302014-03-24

would you be interested in sharing your design? I love it.

purpletheory (author)jturner302014-01-16

Wow, turned out great! Nice design too!

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