If you’re looking to build your own coffee table, then you’ve come to the right place… Chances are, you’re having dilemma over what kind of coffee table to build, which wood to choose, what kind of finishing suits the living room, etc.
By following the exact coffee table plans that I’ve used, you would have a step-by-step blueprint to follow and get started on your project.
A coffee table was originally crafted in the Victorian era for customers of coffee shops to put down their coffee between sips and provide additional space for perhaps a book or newspaper. It was a high table because of the high stools, which were the norm in those days.
Gradually, as furniture became more affordable following mass industrialization, more and more people wanted to enjoy their coffee in the comfort of their living room or their outdoor garden. Sofa and garden chairs like Adirondack chairs became commonplace in the homes and coffee tables was made lower as a result.
It has also been said that the coffee table as we know of today, which is the long low variation, was engineered such that it does not obstruct the view of television from the sofa, even when coffee is being placed on the top.
It has become synonymous with the name, cocktail table, for reason I’m not really sure of. Perhaps the tables are used to serve coffee in the day, and cocktails in the night?
Today, many woodworkers like you want to move away from the mass produced tables and decide to build one yourself following proven coffee table plans and it certainly can be done cheaply and easily.
Have a look around retail and furniture stores and you’d quickly realize coffee tables do not come cheap. You’d save yourself some dollars by opting to build one yourself just like how I did with many furniture at home.
How to Build a Coffee Table?
Typically, a coffee table only has 3 main components – the tabletop, the apron, and the legs. However, there are many designs out there that do away with the apron and these are mostly glass-topped designs.
The types of material are dependent on the styles of the table, but wooden coffee tables are the predominant types in the market today.
There are those with metal bases or molded plastic for a more contemporary style, but my personal preference still lies with the wooden base and tabletop, which is more traditional and blend in better with my existing furniture.
I’ll be outlining the general steps involved in constructing a coffee table, assuming you already have some woodworking skills and are pretty comfortable working with the common tools.
Choosing a Style
For a start, you need to decide on what kind of coffee table do you want in your living room. Take a look around your living room décor to get a cue. You’d want the table to blend in and not being the odd one out.
If you have a mostly contemporary furnishing in the house, you can get pretty bold with the coffee table design. A glass-topped table will suit you fine. However, having small children and careless toddlers do not bode well with glass type furniture. You’d want to give this a consideration and use another material for the tabletop, such as marble or wood.
If you have a country or cottage styled décor, you’d definitely be more suited to fit that particular style for your coffee table project.
Don’t fret if you’re having a hard time figuring out. If that’s you, I’d suggest you go with a transitional piece, which will complement any décor style nicely. It offers an air of being casual, yet functional feel to the table.
Shape and Size Considerations
Once you’ve decided on the preferred style, it’s time to decide the shape and size of your new table. Again, it depends on the space available, and the furnishing of your living room.
Most people have a long sofa that seats 3 adults comfortably, and hence the coffee tables in most homes tend to be a long, rectangular style. This design is the most practical, ensuring those seated can reach and place their beverage, be it coffee, cocktail, or your favorite beer.
A round or square coffee table is a popular choice as well, especially for those who live in smaller apartment where space is more limited. The limitation dictates furniture to be arranged in a more cluttered and square-like arrangement, so a round or square coffee table is the preferred choice in this situation.
There is also the less popular oval version, but I do not understand why anyone would pay attention to this style. In my opinion, they look weird and do not fit in, but some may disagree. A man’s meat is another man’s poison…
After the shape has been fixed, you may want to start thinking about any added functionalities you need. Do you need drawers and bins to store your coasters, remotes, and magazines? Do you envision shifting the table often that rolling legs are needed? Do you need several layers of tray for any reason? It is your coffee table, so you have the best idea on how it will be used.
The next thing to consider is the size of your DIY coffee table. There isn’t a hard and fast rule, just general suggestions and feedback from users. A good coffee table plan will allow for scaling appropriately according to your needs.
Take out your measuring tape and do the following. Measure the distance from the floor to the top of the cushion on your sofa. Next, measure the length of the sofa that will sit behind the table to be built.
My suggestion is to build the coffee table at the same height, if not slightly lower than the top of the cushion. Additionally, the long side of the coffee table should cover at least two-thirds of the length of the sofa.
Also, take note of the spacing between sofas if you have a square-like sofa arrangement. You’d want to save some space for an adult to walk between the sofa and the table comfortably. This would not be an issue if there is no other furniture between the sofa and your television set.
Where to Get Coffee Table Plans?
You are almost ready to build your own coffee table! It’s time to look for coffee table woodworking plans to find out how you can make one.
For beginners, follow the plans to a T and have your first table built.
For those who are more advanced and adventurous, feel free to modify the existing plans and scale to fit your needs.
I recommend you check out Ted’s Woodworking and use the coffee table plans included as part of the package. There will be 2 folders that contain coffee table woodworking plans.