Introduction: Stop Sign Coffee Table

Picture of Stop Sign Coffee Table

Here's a simple coffee table I made out of an old, ratty stop sign and some birch plywood.

I was given a pile of old road signs a few years ago, which I have really enjoyed using for projects such as this one.

If you're interested in getting some old, used road signs (ahem, legally) for a project like this, I recommend asking small-town street departments. My experience has been that bigger cities actually take the time to haul them off to recycle, while smaller towns just throw their damaged and replaced signs in a pile somewhere. If you ask the right people, they'll generally be happy to let you haul off their trash. That's how I got mine!

The surface of this particular sign was relatively clean and flat, but had a lot of scrapes and stains from whatever it went through in its life. I thought the contrasting character between the abused old sign and the nice clean wood would be interesting.

It's a fairly simple design that should be easy to duplicate with some basic tools. If you make something similar, be sure to let me know in the comments. Thanks for taking a look!

Step 1: Layout Plywood

Picture of Layout Plywood

I wanted the design to be clean, simple, and modern, and not waste a lot of material in the making process. Overall, I think I met those goals.

I began by tracing the sign onto some 3/4" furniture grade birch plywood. The center was found by drawing lines across the layout, connecting all the corners.

A center circle was laid out, along with areas to be notched where the legs would fit in. Six legs were also laid out.

See photos for dimensions.

Step 2: Cut Out Pieces

Picture of Cut Out Pieces

All pieces were cut out using a combination of band saw and hand held jig saw with a fine-toothed blade.

Step 3: Clean Up and Prepare Wood Pieces

Picture of Clean Up and Prepare Wood Pieces

All pieces were rounded over on the router table and sanded smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.

The notched areas received some fine tuning with a small drum sander to ensure proper fit with mating pieces.

The lower shelf circle piece will be fastened to each of the legs from the underside with a single pocket screw and wood glue. The pocket screw holes were drilled at this time.

Step 4: Clean Up and Prepare Sign

Picture of Clean Up and Prepare Sign

I laid out holes around the perimeter of the sign, and pre-drilled these with a 3/32" bit. Each hole was then countersunk so the screw heads would be flush with the surface when installed.

Where the holes were drilled through the sign, small burs were left on the underside. These were quickly removed with a small rotary grinding tool.

I used an orbital sander with 80 grit sandpaper on it to ease the sharp aluminum edge all around the sign.

Step 5: Finish the Wood

Picture of Finish the Wood

The wood was finished with three coats of spray on lacquer. After each coat, all the pieces were sanded lightly by hand with 220 grit sandpaper.

After the final coat and sanding, all pieces were rubbed down with paste wax and buffed clean. This left an ultra-smooth, blemish-free finish.

Step 6: Assembly

Picture of Assembly

Each leg was glued and screwed to the lower shelf through the pocket holes that were drilled previously.

The top wooden piece was added next. This was glued and screwed to the legs through the top side, with a single countersunk screw into each leg.

The stop sign was added last, with a couple beads of gorilla glue all around, and 5/8" screws through each of the pre-drilled holes.

Overall this was a very quick, fairly simple project. It goes together easily, and is rock solid and unique.

It gets a lot of compliments--some of them actually sincere. However, a few honest people have just come right out and said it's ugly!

Oh well. It's in my house, and I like it!

Step 7: Another Version

Picture of Another Version

I also made a slightly taller version to use as an end table, but with an old crosswalk sign.

Questions and feedback are always welcomed. If you happen to make one, share a photo in the comment section. I'd love to see it!

Thanks for taking a look.


punkypunk (author)2015-06-05

you have really great ideas that are so finely executed, cheers to you mate!

seamster (author)punkypunk2015-06-05

Thank you very much!

Delete_ (author)2014-10-17

AWESOME!!! I happen to have a stop sigh

BackyardWW (author)2014-09-26

This is a really nice method to putting together a table, the tables look great. The only concern I have is are the screw holes where the rust forms, did you just paint over them? either way I really like the yellow tables and could possible screen-print the shapes on. thanks for suggesting this design! you did a great job with what you had!

michaelgc (author)2014-09-26

Isn't stealing stop signs illegal? Nice table...

seamster (author)michaelgc2014-09-26

It certainly is!

Did you read my introduction explaining where I get used street signs legally?

Mark Montano (author)2014-09-03

Not sure if I commented on this already, but THIS is a fantastic table.

seamster (author)Mark Montano2014-09-03

Thanks a bunch!

aaaaoooo (author)2014-08-20

rocks really ..excellent skills

jjohnson176 (author)2014-06-25

What's the diameter of the circle u cut out of the hexagon?

seamster (author)jjohnson1762014-06-25

The diameter is 22 inches.

doodlecraft (author)2014-06-24 them!

seamster (author)doodlecraft2014-06-24


They require a unique decorating taste though... I think it's called, "okay with old garbage in the house."

My wife humors me and lets me make her things like this.

TallTrav (author)2014-06-20

One of the best places to pick up discarded signs is your local scrap yard. I've got plenty for the going price of scrap aluminium. I've also picked up a few from abandoned ferry terminals and industrial sites, but they were steel (and really heavy). Good luck and good hunting!

seamster (author)TallTrav2014-06-20

Awesome, thank you!

debraleesparks (author)2014-06-18

You can get different types of street signs on Amazon... I have a chicken crossing sign, and a ostrich crossing... but they come in a lot of things.

seamster (author)debraleesparks2014-06-19

Hey, good to know. Thanks!

emreywiley (author)2014-06-18

That is awesome. You had me at stop, but the crosswalk endtable is cool as crap.

seamster (author)emreywiley2014-06-18

Thanks a bunch!

I kinda wish I had a moose crossing sign. Now that would be awesome!

debraleesparks (author)seamster2014-06-18

They have those on AMAZON!!!

fixfireleo (author)2014-06-17

great idea. i'm glad you specified a way to get them legally. we have too many thieves in society today. you could also put a glass top on with some braces or use a resin cover like the guy did on the penny countertop to make it long lasting and scratch resistant. have you thought about antiquing the wood to match the worn, old sign?

seamster (author)fixfireleo2014-06-17

Thank you!

No, I didn't consider antiquing the wood. It could have been done I guess, but I like the clean look of the wood with the old sign. Nice juxtaposition, I think.

steamdroid (author)2014-06-15

Bad bad! Stealing a stop sign is a very serious offense. I hope you get caught on this one by the police.

fixfireleo (author)steamdroid2014-06-17

it might have been a good idea if you had READ his description where he states that he got it by asking a small town road department and they gave him some old, worn signs that had been replaced. of course, this is america, so you have a right to look stupid if you wish.

seamster (author)steamdroid2014-06-15

You are right. Stealing a stop sign is a very serious offense.

Thank goodness I didn't steal it!

ac-dc (author)seamster2014-06-17

It might be a good idea to get a letter declaring road signs to be salvage in case the day ever comes that police question its origin.

shazni (author)2014-06-17

This is fantastic! thanks for sharing

sniffydogs (author)2014-06-17

Love that you explained where to get the signs, legally. Very nice Instructable!

seamster (author)sniffydogs2014-06-17


People tend to freak out a little when they see somebody with an old road sign. But they're perfectly legal to have if you acquire them legally!

craftclarity (author)2014-06-16

OMG. Takes me back to childhood. We had a couple of pedal-cars in the backyard, and one year he made these awesome signs for us kids. The 'Stop' sign was shaped like a pentagon, and had the word STEP in huge letters, with 'on it' underneath about a quarter the size.
No wonder I ended up a bike messenger.

Tntman603 (author)2014-06-15

That's really awesome! Do you use this in your living room?

seamster (author)Tntman6032014-06-15

Yes, I really do. My kids actually use it as a game table more than anything else. It's just the right size for kneeling at and playing card and board games.

anarayan8 (author)2014-06-15

is it legal to use a traffic sign as a table?????

seamster (author)anarayan82014-06-15

Yes, perfectly legal as long as the sign was acquired legally. Once the authorized entity (in this case, a city street department) takes an old sign out of service and replaces it, it's just an object they can give away, sell, recycle, or whatever.

It would be illegal for me to take down signs of course (and incredibly stupid and dangerous to motorists!), or even to post these old ones randomly on roadways, as I'm not authorized to do that.

It's a reasonable question though, and one that people often wonder.

rickyeatough (author)2014-06-15

REALLY awesome idea! You could have loads of different signs, an entire collection! Maybe you could even use some as stools? Definitely going to try this sometime, but need to source the signs first - then i can make this! Great work!

Petergottm (author)2014-06-14

Very nice!

gunshw301 (author)2014-06-14

I have a bike crossing sign I have had for years that's needed a new life. Thank you.

seamster (author)gunshw3012014-06-14

Cool! That would make an awesome table. Or bike rack?

Make_This (author)2014-06-14

Interesting idea. The school crossing would be great at a pre-school or elementary school. Thx for sharing

About This Instructable




Bio: I got an old sewing machine when I was just a kid, and I've been hooked on making stuff ever since. My name is ... More »
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