Stop Sign Coffee Table

20,214

673

43

Introduction: Stop Sign Coffee Table

About: 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 Sam and I'm a community manager here at Instructables.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Glue Contest

Participated in the
Glue Contest

Metal Contest

Participated in the
Metal Contest

Be the First to Share

    Recommendations

    • Plastic Contest

      Plastic Contest
    • The 1000th Contest

      The 1000th Contest
    • Battery Powered Contest

      Battery Powered Contest

    43 Discussions

    0
    Ericamonk
    Ericamonk

    5 months ago

    This is awesome! Our family also has a reclaimed stop sign we’d like to use as a small patio table. Is this strictly an indoor table? Would it be conditions be too harsh for the table to be outside year round in our hot, humid southern summers? Also would the table surface potentially be too reflective and get too hot? Thanks!

    1
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 5 months ago

    Thanks! I imagine the sign itself would get very hot being out in the sun. I'd be more concerned about the wood base though, as it wouldn't hold up well outdoors through rain, sun, and storms. A welded metal base might be a good option for an outdoor version, though, if you're not concerned with the top getting hot. That would be really nice I think! : )

    0
    KimB280
    KimB280

    Question 1 year ago on Step 1

    Do you have any tips on how to flatten them? I got one today but it is bent at the top.

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Answer 1 year ago

    Ooph, I've had a couple of bent signs and they're surprisingly tough to bend back into shape. Depending on the type of bend and location, you might be able to clamp the sign to a sturdy workbench with a 2x4 or similar on the top, and be able to get enough leverage to bend it back into shape. Good luck!

    0
    punkypunk
    punkypunk

    5 years ago

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

    0
    Delete_
    Delete_

    6 years ago

    AWESOME!!! I happen to have a stop sigh

    0
    BackyardWW
    BackyardWW

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    0
    michaelgc
    michaelgc

    6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    It certainly is!

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

    0
    Mark Montano
    Mark Montano

    6 years ago on Introduction

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

    0
    jjohnson176
    jjohnson176

    6 years ago

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

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 6 years ago

    The diameter is 22 inches.

    0
    seamster
    seamster

    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks!

    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.

    0
    TallTrav
    TallTrav

    6 years ago on Introduction

    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!

    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.