Fallout Brotherhood of Steel Coffee Table (IKEA Hack)




Introduction: Fallout Brotherhood of Steel Coffee Table (IKEA Hack)

So I'm going to start off by saying I've been creating random stuff and art hacks my entire life, and finally decided to document steps to create my first ever instructable. I tried to be as detailed as possible throughout the process, but may have skipped a few steps in between that could have been added. So please feel free to comment on this for any information that I'm missing so I can add it and correct my future tutorials.

That said, I'd like to mention that I live in downtown Seattle and room is incredibly limited for tools and equipment for full creation, so I decided to start off with an IKEA hack. Most of the work was done at my boyfriend's house where his complex has a front yard area and a balcony to dry the table out, but he too is limited on space. The moment I finally get a garage will be the day I make everything ever. Until then.... here is my IKEA hack tutorial for creating my very own Brotherhood of Steel (from the Fallout series) flag stained coffee table, made from an IKEA LACK coffee table. This was an incredibly inexpensive project (just under $50 for everything minus the table, which I already owned) and really easy to do. The hardest part is waiting for the glue and stains to dry to see how your project turned out.

I am a HUGE nerd for everything Fallout related, so I added my awesome PipBoy in some of the pictures; I thought it was fitting for the occasion.

NOTE: This artwork is not originally created by me; it is a logo from the Fallout video game series, created by Bethesda, situated over a flag-style image. I take no credit in this logo as an original artwork piece; I am only showing the method of how I created the stained flag image after assembling my original IKEA hack. This was inspired by seeing a flag in somebody's window while perusing the city, and decided this would look awesome on a coffee table.

Step 1: Get Your Supplies!

I don't have any tools or equipment to cut wood, so I just pre-measured everything I could and bought the wood at Home Depot for complimentary cuts. Be wary of this though, as there were a few times the cuts we got were crooked or ended up jagged, so we had to buy new pieces to have them re-cut. Luckily, the wood is relatively cheap so buying new pieces wasn't a huge setback.

What you'll need:

  • IKEA LACK Coffee Table (dark brown) – dimensions 46.5” x 30.75
  • 1 2x4 dark brown stained board (you can also grab some unstained wood and stain this yourself, but I opted to get the pre-stained stuff from Home Depot since it matched the color of the IKEA table)
    • 2 cut to 46.5” x 2.5”
    • 2 cut to 30.75” x 2.5”
  • 5 fence boards – dimensions
    • 5 cut to 46.5” length
    • 1 cut 3.25” wide
  • 1 can of wood stain + poly – Cabernet color
  • 1 spray can of clear wood finish (or any wood finish that you choose)
  • 2 sandpaper sponges
    • 1 at 80 grit
    • 1 at 30 grit
  • 1 bottle carpenter’s wood glue
  • Latex gloves
  • One roll of frog tape
  • Xacto Knife
  • Sharpie
  • (at least) 1 charcoal pencil
  • 1 stencil of Brotherhood of Steel flag, mirrored
    • any paper is fine, created mine in a custom image file specifically sized for my table, then printed it out
  • Tons of rags
  • Tons of paper towels

Step 2: Sand Table Top and Sides With a Fine Grit Sandpaper

  • I left the table assembled for easier sanding
  • I didn’t spend a ton of time sanding the IKEA table down; I just gave it a quick sand to make it not as smooth and to remove any finish on the tops and sides.
  • Be mindful not to sand the legs since these will not have anything on them

Step 3: Sand Unfinished Wood With Thick Grit Sandpaper

  • Decide which sides of each piece of the fence wood you want to be facing up. I chose the most interesting textured ones that have knots and discolorations, since each piece will stain a little differently to give it more of a rustic look.
  • Sand the tops and sides of all of the wood with the thicker grit sandpaper. It doesn’t have to be 100% smooth; this is mostly just to make sure no giant chunks are going to pop up and you’re not going to get splinters just by looking at it.
  • I left the bottoms unsanded since these will be glued to the table and I anticipated that the extra texture could help the glue stick to the particle board of an IKEA table.
  • For the darker wood sides, since this wood is already treated and stained, lightly sand the side you want glued to the table and leave the tops unsanded.

Step 4: Glue on Top Wood Pieces With Carpenter’s Wood Glue

  • I set all of the wood pieces down exactly how I wanted to arrange them before gluing to make sure everything fit nicely. Once I was happy with the arrangement, I began gluing.
  • Glue one piece at a time, ensuring that you get an outline of the wood glue around the edges, then fill in the center with a wavy stripe. You don’t need to douse it, but if you’re liberal with glue I suggest avoiding putting a ton around the edges to avoid seeping down the sides and adding extra time for cleanup.

  • Once you are happy with your glue, flip it over and align it flush to each side of the table top.

  • Move to the next piece over and repeat the same. Before setting this one down, put an extra line of glue on the side of the previous piece that you plan to place the next to the one you’re working on. This will ensure a good, tight bond will form between the boards as well as underneath. Repeat for all boards.

  • Set something heavy on it for 24 hours that will evenly distribute weight. We’d just purchased a giant IKEA display cabinet and set that on top of it to dry. If you were generous with the amount of glue you used, have some paper towels or rags handy to wipe the excess dripping down the sides. A little glue dried on there isn’t going to hurt

  • The glue doesn’t dry super fast so if you want to make minor adjustments, it’s not difficult to do so. Just slide the board but be careful not to knock into the neighboring boards and add more time for you to fix anything you moved out of place.

Step 5: Glue on Side Wood Pieces

  • Since there’s no easy way to put a vice on the table over these pieces, we had to glue two sides on at once then weight them down using the same method as above.

Step 6: Once All Pieces Are Dry, Give the Pieces of Wood Facing You a Light Sanding

  • If you are a messy artist like I am, you probably managed to drip some glue on the top of your boards that you’ll be staining. Wipe away the glue as best as you can and do a quick sanding over the top of the dried boards.
  • This is to ensure any glue that may have dripped over the top won’t seal the wood and prevent the consistency of your stain.

Step 7: Tape Entire Top of IKEA Table With Frog Tape

  • This doesn’t have to be perfectly aligned straight or anything since you’re going to be making a sweet stencil out of this, but try to align them so they have minimal, or preferably no overlap. This will ensure when drawing/cutting you won’t have uneven or rough edges on your otherwise smooth design

Step 8: Transfer Your Stencil Onto Your Table

  • Take your stencil paper design and trace the outlines with a black charcoal pencil. Make sure you press down hard to get enough of your charcoal on there to transfer over to your tape.
  • When you’re happy with your design tracing, flip your paper over and align it how you want it to appear on the table
  • Once aligned, tape it down to ensure it will not move around when you’re doing the transfer and causing messy lines
  • Rub your stencil onto the paper. You can do this any way that works for you, I chose a normal pencil and scribbled over it to see what areas I had left to rub on. I’ve also done this method using the end of a ruler, a smudge pencil, and any other object that could push the charcoal onto the tape. Be sure to press hard during this process, but not too hard to rip the paper*!

    *This totally happened to me

Step 9: Cut Out Your Stencil on the Table

  • Again, if you are a messy or ungraceful artist like I am, I suggest taking a sharpie and drawing your outline on over the charcoal. This is to ensure your stencil does not get messed up or smudged by your arms or hands when you’re cutting it out
  • BE VERY CAREFUL TO NOT PUSH TOO HARD!! If you push the Xacto knife too hard, it will cut into your wood and leave unintended gouges. Be very mindful of pressure and only use enough to cut the tape.
  • For this design, I used black to print out which areas I’d be staining, so cut ONLY the black portions out. The best part about Frog Tape is that it sort of creates a “seal” when you cut it, giving that extra umph to ensure your stain will not stain under the tape or saturate areas you don’t want it to go.
  • I pressed down the edges a little bit after this process to ensure the Xacto knife sealed the tape to the table, preventing stain from leaking under it
  • Peel off unwanted and excess tape to throw away

Step 10: Put on Gloves & Stain Your First Coat

  • Once you have your stencil ready to go, the fun part begins! Grab your pile of rags, gloves, pile of paper towels, and put on some scrubby clothing that you don’t care about ruining.
  • Make sure you do this part in a well ventilated area and with a mask on to protect you from inhaling unwanted chemicals.
  • Dab your rag into the stain very lightly then dab it lightly on a paper towel to ensure there’s no excess drip.
  • Start dabbing your stain onto your stencil design in a blotting motion. If you rub your stain in using a circular motion, please make sure you’re careful around the edges of the tape. The rubbing action can likely either peel up the tape or ensure you’re smashing stain underneath in areas that you don’t want it to go.
  • SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE #1: For this potion make absolute sure you are NOT saturating your rag in stain. Too much stain will run the risk of seeping under the tape and staining the areas you do not want stained.
  • SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE #2: Immediately wipe off any extra stain sitting on the tape. Frog Tape isn’t completely waterproof so the longer it sits on the tape, the better chance it’s going to seep through and make you sad. If you have an extra pair of hands handy, I suggest having someone wiping up behind you as you’re staining specific areas (this method worked for us well)

Step 11: Stain Additional Coats Until You Are Satisfied With Your Color

  • This is all really up to you and how deep and dark you want your colors. I ended up doing only one coat because I wanted more of a distressed look to this flag, so having the lighter wood show through gave it more character
  • Make sure you give your stain enough time to dry; we let it sit for a few days before taking the stencil off.

Step 12: Peel Off Your Stencil

  • Strangely satisfying to do, sort of like revealing your masterpiece one piece of tape at a time.

Step 13: Put Gloss Over Table

  • This part is the easy part! It’s up to you if you want to gloss your table legs; I opted not to, so I just removed the legs from the table top and glossed the top and sides.
  • Just like you would a spray paint can, spray 6-8” from the surface to ensure even strokes and no pools of gloss. Spray lightly across all areas, let dry for 15-20 minutes between coats, and spray a total 3-4 coats. Or until you’re satisfied.
    • I gave it a few coats and wasn’t satisfied with the protection it gave, so I ended up coating it a few more times with some brush-on semi-gloss to ensure it is protected. My boyfriend has two unruly dogs and wanted to make sure they wouldn’t ruin it.

And there you have it! An awesome new table for you to subtly bring out your inner nerd. The possibilities are endless for what design you want to use. Use your imagination and create some awesome stuff!

1 Person Made This Project!


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6 Discussions


4 years ago

Love it, but no time for coffee, another settlement need your help...


4 years ago

Wow, as a fan of Fallout I just love that.

Great job!


Reply 4 years ago

Thanks! I've always been a HUGE Fallout fan, and totally plan to do more post-apocalyptic projects in the future. This one was super fun to make.


4 years ago

very nicely done.


Reply 4 years ago

Thanks a ton! :)