[Prototype] Zee Coffee Table




About: Just an ordinary person who loves #thinking and #tinkering

I am thinking for Flat Pack Contest. I have this fold-able coffee table design in my mind, but I lack the power tools to build it. Reading my Twitter I saw "9 days left to enter the Big or Small Challenge and win an iPad!". Lightbulb! [Gru version in Despicable Me]. Well I can make the prototype, the miniature of my Zee Coffee Table until I get the perfect tools to build one.

Even the prototype can prove to you that this -- three pieces of 9 x 6 cm plywood -- can hold the 2.5 kilograms battery on it (as long as the weight of battery is well distributed on top of the prototype table). Well, the diagonal piece and the vertical middle piece do make a good stand. I was doubt until I finish my prototype and astonished by its stability.

That was last week. I rushed. Now it is 3 days left. I may not get "votes", but I hope this project will inspire many people to build the real coffee table size ( ^_^) It is portable. It is fold-able. It is stable (^_^ )

Step 1: Tools and Materials

Any other tools might be needed to accomplish your project. This is a prototype only and you will need power tools to build the real table. But if you are in the same condition (lack the tools) like me and you want to prove the stability, go ahead, build the miniature of it ;)

  • 3 pieces of 9 x 6 cm plywood.
  • 2 pieces of tiny hinges (not shown in the photo).
  • A ruler.
  • A cutter/pencil knife.
  • A paperclip.
  • A PCB drill (1mm drill bit).
  • A screwdriver.


  • A pliers.
  • A mini hammer.

Other tools might be needed in the project, depends on method of achieving.

Step 2: Cut Out the Inner Board

The middle board functions as table leg. Because a table can't stand on one leg, then I cut out the center of that board so that it can flip and I can position it vertically to support the table top. The outer board and inner board are connected with a center pin through them.

This is the hardest part of the entire project : cutting out the inner board. Use your cutter/pencil knife and ruler and start digging until your cutter go through the other side. Do it patiently. I was in a hurry, time is ticking and the remaining days to enter the contest is decreasing.

Oouch... Finally I cut my finger ... (-_-")

Click to enlarge.

But not to worry, project must go on :D

Click to enlarge.

A mini hammer and a thin screwdriver help me dug faster. Remember to do it gently or you will break the plywood.

This is the problem I am facing in making the real size coffee table. I have no power tool to cut out the inner board. It will take me weeks to get the job done with traditional tools. If you have an extra board, making a hole on the main board with a drill and cutting a smaller board from the extra board to fit in the hole is much more easier.

Click to enlarge.

Well, we are done. Now smoothing the edges is easy with a cutter.

Step 3: Make It Flips

We are making a hub. Use a 1 mm drill bit (in this prototype case) and drill through the outer and inner board inline as you can see in the photos above. Straighten a paperclip and use it as the center rod. This drilling step should be done slowly and carefully either, because if the holes are not inline perfectly, then the board will not flip perfectly and also it is hard to get the paperclip pin through the holes. I drilled by hand because the plywood is thin and I don't wanna messed up and started all over [time is ticking... ]. Lastly cut the excessive paperclip at the edge of outer board.

Step 4: Bevel-in the Other Boards

Now put the three boards on their final positions and mark with a pen where the vertical inner board stands. We are going to cut a bevel-in -- half of the board's thickness -- so that the vertical inner board can stand properly on it. Do the same bevel-in for the top board because you can use this table upside down in the same shape and size.

Step 5: The Hinges

At first I was in trouble finding tiny hinges for this project. Then I tried to make my own hinges with staples and a nail as the center rod as you can see in the photos. It works, only that it is not that rigid due to the very thin staples. Looking around I found old thin hinges, which is already too wide for my thin plywood. I bent the plate but it is not shown here. Time is ticking and I forgot to take picture of it (^_^" ) but you can see the result on next step.

Step 6: The Prototype of Zee Coffee Table

The old hinges were rusty. I sprayed it with my favorite color. Yellow. Yeah, I know.. I am not a good painter, so please forgive me :D

Come on. Show us in the comment section if you have made this in real size ^_^



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    10 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Forget to tell ya that it is flatten-able. You can hide it under your sofa or bed, or use it as a mat rather than sitting or sleeping on the cold ceramic floor ;)

    Forget about the ugly screws and hinges. This is only a prototype and surely we will pick better hinges on real size project :D

    2 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    This is a gorgeous design, really clever :)


    3 years ago

    Yes, it is a Coffee Table :D


    3 years ago

    This concept can be used in the shop in a variety of ways.


    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    Are we sending this design to IKEA? Ha ha.


    Thank you. And it is portable too ;)
    Can't hardly wait to build one in real size. Keep looking for perfect boards and perfect tools to bring it to life size :)