Introduction: Coffee Tray (table) for Couch

About: I love to make DIY projects with my son

I had some wooden leftovers in my shed. You know the boards which were rejected during making other projects but I've never throw them away. I always felt that I will use them to something... finally ;-) Some of those boards were with me more than 4 years!

Most of the leftovers were to narrow (less than 4 cm) to use in other works, were to bent, had some ugly knots and some of them had ugly paint stains (I tested the colors on them). Like in the pictures.

So, the leftovers waited... waited for a long time, but finally we (my wife and me) bought a couch and she wanted to have a coffee tray on it. So it was perfect way to use the old, forgotten oaken leftovers.


  • mainly wooden boards. It can be hard wood like oak, but the pine wood also will be ok (if You use good resistant lacquer to finish the table)
  • table saw
    it can be hand saw, but I don't recommend it. You won't get straight cutting line (believe me, I've tried it:) )
  • stain
    the best are wood stains based on oil (not on water)
  • lacquer
    typical lacquer in spray (I used one for... car body painting)
  • wood glue
  • planner
    If You have leftovers, You need to give them proper shape. Not can do without planner.

Step 1: Project & Measurements

First I've made a project. Nothing fancy - the tray has rectangular shape, so I've measure my couch and add 2 cm on each side to have not to tide fit in final product. I also added to my plans two boards for two reasons:
- the boards will hold the tray on a couch
- the boars will block things on the tray from falling off
When I had a project (knowing how long boards I should use), I searched for a leftovers. I used mostly all of them. Even the stained ones (stain will be sanded off later).
When I had all boards at my desk, I marked all knots and tried to make a straight lines on the boards where I will cut the edges. It turns That I've ended with boards in various width: from 3 cm up to 10 cm.
After I had all cutting marks on the boards I moved to next step.

Step 2: Cutting Boards and Planning Them

I used the table saw to cut the boards according the lines. As You can see the boards were not very good looking at this stage yet. I needed to make them smooth and straight. To do that, I've used the planner.

Important thing. Some boards were much bent. I cut them it in the middle and make two narrower from one wide but bent.

Step 3: Gluing

Because I've used more than 2 inch in thick boards I had no problem with gluing the boards together. No additional reinforcement was needed. I've applied the glue on the edges... not to much but covering the whole gluing surface and then I've used the carpentry clamps to make the whole thing squeeze and immobilize.

Step 4: Finishing the Tray

When the tray was glued I've marked straight lines on the each end and cut according to them on table saw. Nothing hard.

After that I've used the sandpapers from 80 grit up to 320 grit to sand the surface of the tray. It is important step and it had to be done before gluing the table edges (later, after gluing edges, it would be impossible to use power tool for sanding)

Important thing: I collected the dust from sanding. Why ? You will see in one of next steps.

Step 5: Gluing the Edges

My work was made from leftovers, so I did not have enough 2 inch boards. I've used them for a tray. For edges I used the thinner boards, less than one inch. In my opinion it works even better with thinner edges than the rest of tray.

So I've used what I've had, cut the boards to the tray dimensions and glued them to the tray.

Step 6: Covering the Imperfections

I was working with leftovers, some of them has small cracks and holes after bugs. Moreover, during gluing I've made mistake and had ugly crack in the middle... grrrrr....

To cover all of those imperfections I've mixed the dust, wood glue and stain to have wood putty in the exact sort of wood and exact color as I wanted.

After applying the putty I've sanded the whole tray/table one more time (this time only soft sandpaper and using hands, no tools)

Step 7: Staining and Lacquering

At last - staining! The most satisfying part of each project. In this part the wood reveals its own beauty.

I've used the stain for wood called 'rustic oak' - strange name, but ok. What is important, I've used stain based on oil (not on water). Such stain is very easy to apply and You don't need to make it quick. A lot time to correct something if something goes wrong during painting (e.g. splash from stain).

When stain dried, I used the car lacquer. 3 layers of it. This layers would protect the wood.

Step 8: Couch Protection

As I said, My couch was new, so I was worried If the massive tray won't make some damage to it. Because of that, I've decided to make a protection. I've glued some material underneath the tray. I had some leftovers from different project (I've used it in some chairs).

Step 9: The End !

That's all! After all those steps finally I had my coffee tray/table to put on couch. You can see on the picture how it looks and in my opinion it looks great. This is mainly because when You are making something rather than just buying, You can make whatever You want and what suit best Your needs (color, shapes etc).

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