Tatami Tea / Coffee Table From Cardboard.

Introduction: Tatami Tea / Coffee Table From Cardboard.

I undertook this project for various reasons. In the first place, I considered the idea of a little table, almost secondary, to use when I was on my bed while I was watching TV or drinking tea or coffee. I wanted a table easy to store, those that you can employ on the bed, but instead of that my decision was to build my own one with my own design. I can not use it on the bed to eat breakfast, but the idea of a little Japanese style table—called tatami table—set on my rug was very appealing. A big rug takes up the center of my bedroom, a zone with no shoes. That is why I wanted a Japanese style table, because I sit on the rug often. Another reason is I set a goal: not putting anything except pillows and such things on the bed while I was on it; so cellphone, TV remote control, etc. is going to be on that table.

I do not know how much time took me because after painting with the spray I stopped a while due to the result—as you will see—and it took me a little to buy the new paint. I reckon more or less eleven days. The first ten days to mount the table and legs and to paint everything. The last one to glue the legs and cover all the pieces with the plastic wrapper.

More or less the whole project cost me €15 or $16 and that counting on the paint that I had to buy again and the hot glue gun that I had not. So, it is very cheap indeed.


Cardboard, I used a big box for the circle and milk boxes—where the bricks are stored—for the legs:

-two circles for the table of 29'5cm [11'6in];

-three rectangles for the legs of 6'3cm (each side) x 12'3cm (width x height) [2'4in x 4'8in];

-one strip to cover the sides of the table of 1'1cm x 90'15cm (height x width) [0'4in x 35,6in].

One pair of scissors;

silicone and hot glue—a little bar—, I started using silicone, but for the legs I used hot glue that is easier and cleaner;

one roll of self-adhesive plastic wrapper for books;

one big bottle of 500ml of CARIOCA white paint tempera for the firsts two layers;

one bottle of spray paint: SPSIL brown 8660 200ml (I ended up covering this one because I did not like the result);

one bottle of TH Brown Tobacco acrylic paint (I did not find a link for that one here a sample and in spray);

three strips of adhesive tape to mark where the legs were going to be;

duct tape for the legs;

paint brushes, a big one for all the project except for the strip that was going to cover the side of the table.

Step 1: Gathering the Cardboard Pieces and Assembling.

I ended up with this set of pieces.

-Two circles of hard cardboard of 29'5cm (11'6 in).

-Three triangle shaped legs made out of milk boxes cardboard of 6'3cm (each side) x 12'3cm (width x height) [2'4in x 4'8in].

-One strip of 1'1cm x 90'15cm (height x width) [0'4in x 35,6in].

Once I got all the pieces I needed to assemble them.

For the table itself.

I glued the two round pieces using two for extra firmness and it went well for me. I spread some silicone on one side of each piece, stick them to one another, and then put some weight on them to assure that they become glued enough waiting at least six hours before continuing to the next phase.

For the legs.

I did not need to glue them. I just shaped the rectangles and taped them with duct tape. For the top and bottom I closed the shape with triangles. I cut more cardboard than needed, so I just folded the top and bottom, cut the rest with scissors, and taped them.

For the strip.

I measure the width and height of the circle, once assembled, and then proceed with more milk cardboard boxes. I ended up with two strips. At the beginning I tried to glue them with silicone, but it did not work, so I tried with tape and I did not like the result as well. So that is why I had two wait a little and go out to buy a hot glue gun. After using the glue gun the result was perfect to me. I also painted them before try to tape them, but I think it is not necessary.

Sorry I have no more photos of this step. I usually wait until the result is decent enough to start with the photos.

Step 2: Painting and Waiting.

White painting layers.

For each piece I applied two layers of white painting, applying the first in the morning and waiting until nighttime to apply the next one. This step, apparently, is needed to prevent the last painting layer—the one you will see—get sucked by the cardboard. I ended with more than the half of the bottle, so I can reuse it for other projects.

Brown spry layers.

After the previous phase was completed, I applied two more layers with brown spry painting. One in the morning and one in the night. I recommend you to use a mask—you can buy it on the pharmacy—because the scent is too strong. As said in the introduction I did not quite like the result. The spry paint tends to cause stains, but apart from that the color was not the one I liked. I was searching for a more dark tone—look picture 4 to see the different tone—, so I had to wait a little until I went out and bought more paint. I reckon that I spent the half of the bottle for the two layers.

Brown tobacco acrylic layers.

The last two layers and the color I was searching for—as if were wood—were accomplished simply with two more layers of that tone. These layers were faster because they were more rapidly to dry, so I think that in less than a day they were achieved. I almost end the entire bottle, but it was a little one more or less 125ml (4'2oz fl).

Step 3: Using the Plastic Wrapper for Books.

Before the last assemble of the pieces I wrapped every piece to avoid stains or discoloration or at least to delay it.

The table itself.

The upper part—pictures 1, 2, 3, 4.

I put the rounded piece on top of the plastic wrapper on the side that was paper and not the plastic and took a pen to draw the shape. When cutting I did cut more than the shape drawn, so I could affix it on the bottom of the round piece—the one you will not see—to extra firmness.

I found it easy to do just cutting a little white paper from the border, gluing that part to the piece—second picture—and while gluing the plastic to the round piece performing a couple of pauses to avoid bubbles using my hands stretching the plastic.

The bottom part—pictures 5,6,7.

The method I used was start gluing the paper and when I saw that it needed to be cut in order to mold it to the shape I cut it and then glued that part. I did that until all the plastic was well fixed to the bottom part, applying some hot glue if needed.

The legs—8, 9, 10, 11.

Similarly, I cut more paper than needed and started to wrap the legs first cutting a little paper, gluing and pausing. This time I decided to leave both sides of the leg, the base and the top—the one that is glued to the table—without plastic. For the base I cut a little triangle and as said I left the other side with no plastic for easier gluing.

Notes: I would have preferred other kind of plastic, there is a similar plastic for books that needs no gluing so you can just wrap the table and then put some adhesive, but I did not find it this time. I used it in another project a long time ago and is less tiresome. Also, be careful if you are going to put some hot things on top of the plastic, be sure to put a coaster or something similar, after all is just plastic.

Step 4: Gluing the Legs.

The last step is just the funnier and easier. Once I had all the pieces I took the adhesive, I used hot glue for quickness and easiness, I put some on the top of the legs—the one without plastic—pressed a little and do that with the two other legs. Then I turned the table and put some weight on top of it.

To know where the legs were I did it without measuring. I mean that they were placed where they presented more stability to the table, no need to complicate that with mathematics. So I placed the table on top of the legs and with my hands moved the legs until I had the perfect setting.

Once that done I used a little tape to mark where the legs were going to be and with one of the extremes folded to make it easier to take it off the table. I turned the table upside down without the legs and putting some glue on the legs I glued them in the place where the tape was, taking off the tape when all the legs were done and the table was face up.

Note:I was not convinced after doing the pictures of the position of one of the legs, but carefully I took it off, clean it of all the hot glue it had, and glued it again. So, if you are not convinced of the position of the legs you must know that it is relatively easy to take it off. Also, I though that the plastic will not let the hot glue work, but in the end I think that I would have wrapped the bottom part of the table in plastic too. I left it without plastic fearing that the legs were not going to be glued.

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