Introduction: Glass Coffee Table

Out of the two years I have lived in my house, my three roommates and I have yet to have a coffee table. For a time we used a mini fridge box but we decided that enough was enough. It was time to get a coffee table that was practical and aesthetic. After talking with my roommates over a couple different design routes we could take we decided on table that has a see through surface to a Virginia Tech logo (where we go to college) underneath. The outer edge of the table would be project board (another name for good looking wood) with a frame made out of a 2X3's.

Step 1: Acquiring Materials and Equipment

For this step you are going to want to visit your nearest Lowes, Home Depot, or local hardware store to get the materials. Although all of these stores will have great selections, wood can be a tricky material to work with. It can warp, crack, bend, etc. so it is important to look at the wood (and any material in general) in depth in order to get the best selection. In addition to the materials you are going to want basic woodworking tools which are also available at the stores listed above.

Caution: To avoid splinters wear proper work gloves and long sleeves when handling lumber

Materials Include:

  • Elmers wood Glue
  • Minwax wood finish penetrating stain (color - special walnut 224)
  • 2’ X 2’ X 15/32” sanded pine plywood
  • (2) 2 X 3’s - 8 foot long (2nd 2 X 3 not pictured)
  • (4) 4” X 2” X 12” poplar project board
  • 16” X 20” single glass pane
  • 1/4" Circular pieces (Can vary on material used, I used 8 1/8" magnets and stacked 2 on top of each other)

Step 2: Acquiring Tools

This step will show you all the tools that you will need to acquire in order to complete this job. Most are relatively cheap and are in any basic woodworkers tool collection.

Tools needed:

  • Skill saw
  • Speed Square
  • Tape measure
  • Marking pencil
  • Sand paper
  • Painters tape
  • Level
  • Safety Glasses
  • Framing square

Step 3: Forming the Base and Frame

This step is the bread and butter of the table itself. It will hold the table upright and support what ever sits on top of the table. This is not the aesthetic part of the table but in my opinion it is the most import aspect of a good coffee table.

You will be working with a skill saw to cut the base, frame, and legs of the table. It is very import in this step to make sure you are making precision cuts to your board and also your 2X3's. Misshaped cuts can lead to the finished product wobbling or even failing.

Warning: Make sure you acquire proper training with a skill saw and use eye protection when making cuts. Improper use can lead to serious injury or even death.

  1. Using a speed square, draw a parallel line that is 4" away from one side on the 2' X 2' piece of plywood
  2. Slowly cut along the line on an adequate cutting surface
  3. Cut two 24" lengths out of one of the 2X3's
  4. Using wood glue, glue the 24" 2 X 3's to the longer end of the plywood
    • Make sure the 2X3 is flush with corners

    • Hold down for 30 seconds for glue to get an initial hold

    • Let the glue sit for about 4 hours to dry

  5. Cut two 17" lengths out the same 2X3

  6. Using wood glue, glue the 17" 2X3's perpendicular to the 24" pieces at the end of the plywood
    • Use the same process for gluing the 17" spans as you did the 24" listed in step 4

Step 4: Framing the Glass

This is the first step where you get into the actual look of the table. You will be making the cuts for the wood frame that goes around the glass top of the table. It is even more important in this step to make sure you make straight cuts that line up with the ends of the perpendicular project board.

Tip: Line up the project board like shown in the picture above and draw your cuts to compare them to the dimensions given.

Waring: Make sure you acquire proper training with a skill saw and use eye protection when making cuts. Improper use can lead to serious injury or even death.

  1. Cut two of the project boards to 23 1/2" and cut the other two boards to 19 1/2"
  2. Sand the ends of the boards where you made your cuts
  3. Place the project boards around the glass like shown in the picture above

Step 5: Staining

You will be applying the wood stain to the top of the table in this step. What you want to focus mainly on in this step is moving parallel with the grains and applying equal amounts of stain to each piece of project board. If you apply more or less to any of the boards the stain will be darker or lighter than the others.

Once you are done applying the stain, let them sit out over night to dry. If you try to pick up the project board when they are still wet you could leave a finger print.

Note: Due to the smell of the stain you may want to do this step outside. I am not sure of any dangers of inhaling but better to be safe then sorry.

Step 6: Framing the Legs

Every table needs to have sturdy legs to hold the load it will take on. It is very important in this step to cut your wood straight but it is even more important to make sure the legs are level. Which is why this step should take the longest out of them all.

Warning: Make sure you acquire proper training with a skill saw and use eye protection when making cuts. Improper use can lead to serious injury or even death.

  1. Cut 4 - 1' long spans out of the additional 2 X 3
  2. Put a good amount of wood glue inside one of the corners of the frame
    • Use judgement here on how much you should use. If you use to much then your project could get messy, but too little and the wood will not stick
  3. Place a 1' long span in the corner and level it up
    • place firmly and hold for about a minute for the glue to get an initial hold
  4. Repeat steps 1-3 for all corners
  5. Leave the table upside down for 24 hours so the glue can dry

Step 7: Adding the Project Board to the Top

This step is getting into the finished product of the table. You will be gluing the project board to the top around the glass sheet to create the surface.

It is important to line up the project board as close as possible to the glass and the end of the perpendicular board to get a flush shape.

  1. Sketch out a 16" X 20" rectangle that is completely centered in the middle of your base.
    • A good way to check this is to measure from any point of the rectangle to the edge of the plywood and make sure that it is 2" from any point you check
  2. Place the circular pieces at the corners of the sketched out rectangle and place the glass sheet on top
  3. Apply a thin layer of wood glue along the outside of the frame
    • Make sure the wood glue is closer to the edge then it is to the glass so you do not have any glue seep under the glass
  4. Firmly place the project board against the glass so that you have a 2" overhang off of the edge.
  5. Place painters tape with one side on the glass and the other side on the project board so the glue can dry
  6. Let sit for about 12 hours for the glue to dry
  7. Repeat steps 3-6, 3 more times

Step 8: Designing the Middle

This is the final step!

Here you can get creative. I spent my undergrad years at Virginia Tech so I painted a VT logo in the middle but you can paint whatever you wish.

Note: I would recommend using white paint due to the fact that if you use to many bright colors it could look a bit tacky.

Enjoy your new coffee table!