Make a Cheap Yet Luxurious Modern Looking Coffee Table W/ Tons of Storage




My wife really hated our old coffee table and really hates my mess.. i have a lot of small containers and hoses that i use when i tabacco pipe aka Hookah.. So i decided to clean up my mess by making a coffee table.. with tons of storage and a great design.. My wife loved her new coffee table and the lack of mess.. i loved my new table and get to show it off when people come over.. a gift that keeps on giving

I've made my share of furniture.. and i've noticed that you can use cheap materials but you will get a cheap look.. i used MDF and plywood.. they work ok but they don't look very nice.. they don't stain and sometimes they are horribly heavy.. then i used 1/2 in hardwood plywood.. which stains very well and looks great... However, is very expensive and it extremely heavy... you can see this in my shoe cabinet instructable..

So after doing a bit of looking around i found this great material called tri-ply underlayment.. it looks like is plywood with a hardwood thin veneer in both sides.. This material is great because is very lightweight.. it stains  very well and is extremely cheap!!!

you can buy a 4 by 8 sheet for like 8 bucks.. However, because is so lightweight is not very sturdy so it will definitely need some kind of skeleton reinforcement..

Here is where my second very cheap material comes into the picture.. 1in by 2in by 8ft furring strip.. this strip is plenty sturdy and plenty cheap.. you can buy a strip for 89 cents at lowes.. also at home depot.. but i found the one at lowes is better quality and sanded a lot better.. this is no advertising for lowes.. since i buy the tri-ply wood at homedepot.. and i hate them both equally..

Anyways i usually plan my cuts according to the 4 by 8 ft tri-ply sheet.. i also pray i get a very patient and very accurate cutter at homedepot.. this is a hit and miss so i hope you get lucky.. 

My idea was to have the lower part of the table be 4ft.. and the top part be 2ft.. then after a lot of thinking and planning i lay my cuts in a piece of paper (please account for about 1/4 inch of waste due to the saw).. take it to home depot and get as many of my cuts done there so i dont have to do much at home.. also it helps me fit the wood in my tiny toyota celica... i buy as many 1 by 2 by 8ft furring strips and about 3- 1 by 4 by 8 ft furring strips for the legs.. i dont cut them.. i cut them at home.. and drive with part of them sticking out of the window :)



Step 1: Plan Your Measurements

I tried my best to illustrate my measurements here.. please double check them.. don't trust this tired old man :) i did this very late at night and honestly it got very confusing.. so please forgive me if i messed up.

Honestly what i'm trying to illustrate is more of a process on how to make cheap furniture, that looks great and is very light weight.. 

The trick is to keep n mind that the tri-ply wood is about 1/4 of inch.. you wanna have your bigger pieces of wood on the top surfaces.. and you have to remember you can always fill up the small gaps with some wood putty..

Step 2: Make Your Lower Frame, Upper Frame, and Join Them Together

i created the frame.. i made sure i accounted for the 1/4 inch the tri-ply wood takes on the sides.. so essentially this frame is 1/2 inch smaller that wood is gonna cover it.. i tried to illustrate what the wood on top would look like with the blue lines.

after the top and the lower part is made.. i united them using 4 piece of wood... made the middle part.. and got ready to cover it up

Step 3: Cover Your Frames With Tri-ply Wood and Make Your Drawers

once your frame is done.. use your tri-ply wood to cover up your table..

create your drawers and get ready to paint

Step 4: Reinforce Your Table to Account for Vending Wood

Here is where it gets tricky.. i wanted super large drawers so i could maximize my storage..  you could avoid this problem by making the whole table solid.. which it will still make a great looking table... but will have no storage.. you could have two drawers instead of 1 per section.. add a midwall for reinforcement..

However i went with option 3.. add a reinforcement in the middle of the drawer.. which will need you to cut your drawer by half..  this support beam keeps the wood from vending down.. which didnt allow the drawer to close as snug as i wanted...

After much thinking i came up with solution number 4.. you might want to try this..  dont cut your drawer.. keep it whole.. and just add the reinforcement and attach it to the middle of your drawer.. this will keep you wood fro vending.. 

it wil make it a bit harder to open but is a mush easier option

Step 5: Sand It, Putty It, Paint It, Stain It, Seal It

I putty the gaps and screws.. and sand it down for a nice smooth finish..

i used a black stain with a sealer.. and let it dry... i did about 3 cots cause this table is going to get a lot of use!!

i hope you guys like this table.. my wife loved it.. she liked the lack of mess which is the best gift ever

Furniture Challenge

Finalist in the
Furniture Challenge



    • Party Challenge

      Party Challenge
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest
    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest

    5 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

       First note: I voted for this. It's a truly beautiful asymmetrical design, with lots of  storage space.

       Being a fledgling builder, I think I'd go for a non-drawer approach myself; close tolerances give me a rash.
       I like the idea of a moveable center section, and might build on that idea. Perhaps a Frank Lloyd Wright sort of tensegrity top section, using the center part to provide 'hidden' support. The center section could also be a three-walled upside-down 'u' shape for more storage and a simpler build.
       I like the idea of making it black. Maybe some dark brown for the top surfaces.

       What I like most about this project is that it really makes me think!

       By 'vending', do you mean 'bending', or something else?

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I meant to say bending .. And s you can see by my other comment I need to double check my writting specially when I'm tired lol


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I like the tension idea and the U idea.. If i didnt need storage i would definetly do a solid piece.. The bottom piece was meant to be solid.. But I needed more storage so I went back and modify it.. I kinda liked it when it was a bit solid piece with the only drawermin the middle

    If I was to redo it.. I would probably do 45 angle cuts for a cleaner design but I would need a table saw... I would also treat the wood before staining it... And I would use a stain and then a sealer.. For some reason they don't have a polymer sealer mixed with a stain in a black color.. The closest they have to it is a dark cherry like the one I used in my shoe cabinet.. So I went with a polymer wood paint...

    The great thing about this method that is very cheap and I probably could go back and make a new one without hurting too much :)

    Thanks for the feed back and thanks for the vote


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I used Maya for instructional purposes.. I designed it in paper but they look like chicken scratches and made cuts n measurements in the fly.. However in order to make it a good instructable I went back and remade it in Maya .

    Thanks for the feed back