Introduction: Ten Green Coffee Table - From Reclaimed Timber and Glass Bottles

About: I am a freelance design engineer and drummer. My business site is at and is often concerned with appropriate technologies, open source design and design for sustainability.

Ten Green is a shelving and table system, constructed simply from local recyclates. This range started with shelving/table modules and continued into small shelving units, big shelving units and now coffee tables.

This document will tell you how to construct a Ten Green coffee table. You can use any four bottles of similar height and any found timber, adapting the dimensions to suit the wood you are working with.

I will happily make up kits to order for UK customers.
If you have bought a kit go straight to step 2.

Design is released under a share alike/attribution CC license by Zero-waste Design.

Step 1: Get the Hardware

For one table you will need:

Four hook and eye strainers / turnbuckles as they are sometimes called. I used the smallest I could find, which are 14mm OD at the buckle and 5mm OD at the threads. Such as these from Screwfix .

Four screw eyes and four screw hooks, of a gauge to match the turnbuckles.
Depending on the height of your bottles, you may need some ess hooks too to help the strainer reach between the upper and lower hooks.

Two pieces of reclaimed wood at least 25mm thick. Here I used some small pallets provided by the customer. Ensure the timber is rot free. Trim the boards square and to the dimensions required and sand to a smooth finish. If the board is constructed out of many pieces joined together, as in the example, ensure all joints are well secured as the board will be subjected to bending and shear forces.

Drill four holes and attach the hardware as described in the layout image (also in .pdf and sketchup format). I can not emphasise enough how great Forstner bits are for this job! (pictured).

NOTE: Andrea Biffi rightly points out that for stability is better that tensioners/turnbuckles are oblique (meaning, not vertical, they are meant to sit at an angle), as you can see in the attached drawings.

UPDATE 28/01/11: I have added some proper engineering drawings in .pdf format below. Also the source file packs in Solidworks 2004 and .stl formats.

Ensure that the screw eyes and screw hooks are securely held into the timber as they may be subjected to anticlockwise twisting - you may require pliers or a similar tool to fully screw in the hardware. If the timber does not allow a secure fixing, consider gluing in the fixings using a two part resin or using bolt through fixings.

Step 2: Get the Bottles

You also need four bottles. All the same brand/height/shape preferable. Wash them thoroughly in hot soapy water. I think the clear ones look the best.

In this example I used some rather lovely bottles by Wodka Wanessa.

Step 3: Place Your First Board

Start with the top board, that is the one without holes drilled through it. Place this upside down on a clean firm surface such that the screw eyes face upwards.

Step 4: Place Your Bottles and Second Board

Place the bottles in each corner of the board. Then carefully lower on top the upper shelf, allowing the necks of the bottles to pass through the 30mm holes in the upper board. Allow the board to rest on the necks of the bottles. Then by hand adjust the bottoms of the bottles so that they sit flush with the lower shelf.

Step 5: Fit the Turnbuckles and Tighten

Adjust the bases of the bottles to ensure that they are flush with the first board. Attach a turnbuckle (and ess hook on the turnbuckle eye end if necessary), between the screw eye and screw hook. The design of these turnbuckles can vary, so you will have to experiment to see which way to fit the buckle. As you turn the centre of the turnbuckle, the ends should should gradually come together, compressing the bottles.

Repeat for each of the four bottles. Tighten the turnbuckles as much as you can by hand. This should easily be sufficient for rigidity and tools should not be required.

The turnbuckles are designed to sit at an incline in order to increase the torsional strength of the table. This resulted from testing an initial prototype, in which case the turnbuckles gradually loosened over time as the table was used as a footrest or otherwise pushed around from the side. So hopefully that should be fixed here.

Step 6: Use.

Your table is now assembled. If your bottles are screwtops, you may want to replace the lids as feet. Turn the whole assembly over so that the tops of the bottles are resting on the floor.

Enjoy, and comment or email me with some photos!

Step 7: Collaborate!

I am always up for collaborative work, hence my devotion to open sourcing in design. Here are some pictures of other tables I have made so far using this method. Check out the project page for some background.

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