Ply Coffee Table




About: Design Technology Teacher
Whilst the construction of slicing up plywood and re-gluing to see the 'ply' is now nothing new.  A few years back whilst I was in University, it was something rather different, with only a handful of products visible after a quick browse on 'Google'.

Whilst I appreciate not everyone has access to both the machinary used within in this Instructable, but more importantly - the amount of time to invest in such a piece of furniture, I, at the time, was a penny scrounging university design student...
  1. Decide on the design for your coffee table.  Coffee Table is 800mm in length, 414mm in width and 400mm tall.
  2. I then drew my design using CAD and used a vinyl cutter to produce a sticker which would be put onto an mdf sheet - which would be turned into the jig.
  3. Attach vinyl sticker to mdf board and remove waster - I used a pillar drill and a jig saw, finally finishing off using a combination of files and sandpaper.
  4. Once happy - drill and countersink holes.  Note these holes must be placed to ensure security to the ply boards, but reduce any flex whilst routing.
  5. At this point I created a 'test piece' out of scrap ply to ensure the idea would work.  It did - and at this point the wallet comes out of the pocket.
  6. Order in the Ply.  I used 1200x2400x18mm x 3 - Birch Faced Ply
  7. Table saw used to cut to lengths 9x400 (from three boards).
  8. Radial arm saw used to cross cut the 9 length into 27 800x400mm boards.
  9. You now have all your boards and it's a case of screwing the jig on - routing out (I took 3 'plunges' or cuts per board).
  10. Repeat step 9 until you have your desired width (I used 23 boards, 4 spare).
  11. Glue - assemble - clamp.  You may need an extra hand, one person aligns, the other tightens the clamps/cramps.  Again, I clamped 4 or 5 pieces together at any one time - and then one final clamp using sash clamps.  Remember to wipe excess glue with a damp cloth/rag - this wlll save you hours of sanding/finishing.
  12. Once fully dried, it's time to sand.  Go through the grades, go with the direction of the boards and use full strokes.
  13. When you think you are done and ready to finish, have a cup of tea and go to sleep.
  14. On return to the project you have realised it isn't finished.  Keep sanding.
  15. Remove dust with a tack cloth.
  16. Finish - I was looking to french polish this, but the complexity of the curves decided otherwise.  Lashings of Danish Oil proved alot quicker and provided a superb finish - just use coasters with with hot/wet *stuff*.
  17. Job done.  Take home, deny anyone from placing anything upon it for two years..
  18. Publish on Instrucables.



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    7 Discussions


    7 years ago on Introduction

    this looks awesome i made a bench a somewhat similar way. did you router the outside edge? hard to tell what the outside is.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Thank you. And yes I did, only a little 5mm Radii or so - just to take the edge off. I'll try to upload a close up later today.

    I like the bench you made - check out - for other 'one sheet of ply' projects. You cant fault the table..


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Oh, this really, really needs to be a step-by-step instructable!

    You'd be surprised how many members and readers have the gear to make something like this.

    2 replies

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    A table?! Saying that, when I moved into my first home - we had no sofa, and so sat on the floor and had dinner/tea off of this coffee table (not directly, we used plates, it wasn't that bad).

    You should see from the pictures it's not very tall - and the title states 'Coffee Table'. But hey, no big deal in using a product for a secondary function.