How to Make a Coffee Table / Side Table. It works great as either!
This project was really a spur of the moment kind of thing.
The previous night I played a board game with my 2 girls, and they like to play board games on the floor, instead of the dining table. Which I don’t mind. But as I get older, it’s getting less and less comfortable each time. That’s when I decided that we need a coffee table to make playing board games on the floor more comfortable for everyone concerned… no matter what their age is.
This caused another problem. I don’t like coffee tables taking up space in the middle of the room. I love having the room nice and open without furniture sitting in the middle of the floor getting in the way, when it’s not being used.
That’s when I decided that instead of a Coffee Table, what I needed was a Side Table, that could also be used as a coffee table when needed. Either for a board game, or for when you have visitors and you need a place for coffee cups and snacks.
I needed to get started on this quickly, as I didn’t want to overthink this idea. So I decided that this will be a simple, quick build. Use the pallet timber as is without any dressing or planing. Also just cut, glue and nail to construct. I don’t plan to even sand the pieces as I go along. I’ll leave all the finishing till the end.
Nothing fancy, just get it done.
The Tools and Material
I plan on using only pallet wood that I have left over in the workshop, and only basic tools, to keep this build as easy as possible.
The timber I will be using is:
- 70mm x 25mm for the Tops
- 75mm x 50mm for the Legs
- 45mm x 25mm for the Rails
The tools required for this project are:
- Speed Square
- Nail Punch
- Wood Glue
- 50mm x 2mm Nails
Building it Quick and Simple
First, apologies for not taking as many “in progress” images as I should have. I just started cutting, gluing and nailing, and forgot to stop every now and again to take a photo.
However, the images I do have should be more than enough to show you how this coffee table is put together. If not, feel free to ask as many questions as you like in the comments below.
The top and side top boards were cut to a length of 600mm.
The height of the legs was determined by the width of the “side table” top boards, as I didn’t want to rip them down to a narrower size. In this case the legs were cut to 300mm.
Also, the length of the “coffee table” top side rails were determined the same way.
Keep in mind that the first board will be overlapping the board on the side (25mm), and the last board will be overlapping the end rail (also 25mm).
I ended up using 8 boards which worked out to 585mm. Less the 2 overlapping ends, the 2 top side rails were cut to 535mm.
Glue and Nail the side top rails to the top of the side legs.
The 2 bottom side rails need to be 25mm longer to allow for the end rail width. The overhanging ends of the bottom side rails, also work as legs when the table is being used on it’s end as a side table. Cut 2 bottom side rails to a length of 560mm.
Glue and nail the 2 bottom side rails to the side legs.
The tops are 600mm wide, and I am giving the tops a 25mm overhang all around. So cut the top end rail to a length of 550mm.
Glue and nail the top end rail to the 2 end legs.
At this point I hung the table over the end of my bench, so the end rail end was hanging down, and legs of the other end were lying on the top of the bench. This made it easy to glue and nail the 4 “side table” top boards to the legs.
Nail punch all the nail heads below the surface. You don’t want any nail heads ripping into your sandpaper when you start cleaning your table.
To make life a lot easier, mark the ends of all the boards and start all the nails.
This image (above) also shows that I left all the timber as it was. I didn’t sand it, or plane it or anything. I left it as I fund it and cut it to length.
Stand the table on your bench and glue, nail and punch all the top boards in place.
Now you should have a completed table. All you need to do is give it a good sanding all over. Make sure you get out any of your pencil marks.
Here is my table after being sanded and ready to be stained.
Time to Stain and Varnish
You can use any finish that you prefer, but I went with water based Walnut Brown Stain from British Paints and Satin Polyurethane Varnish from Cabots.
I brushed and wiped on 1 coat of the stain. Then let it dry.
After the stain dried, I brushed on 2 coats of the satin varnish. With a light sand in between coats.
1 Finished Coffee Table Side Table combo
I think the result for such a quick and simple build is fantastic. It works perfectly as both a side table next to your lounge, or a coffee table.
Here are a couple of images of the table in my home.