For this DIY project, I upcycled the legs from an inexpensive TV tray table and used two pine stair risers as the table top.
I’m really excited about this x-base coffee table because it folds like a tray table, making it a snap to store when it is not being used. Wouldn’t this be nice for a small living room–you can get it out when you want it, and put it away when you don’t.
Because the entire legs/base is from a tray table, this coffee table is about as sturdy as a tray table. Keep that in mind, and see if it meets your needs.
Here is my folding coffee table loaded up with about 60 pounds of goods, so I feel okay about putting a laptop on it, and some books, a drink, a remote, and kicking back with my feet on the thing. But I’m not going to sit on it or let my children sit on it (they’re teenagers). You get my point.
MAKING THE TABLE TOP
- two unfinished pine stair risers (7 1⁄2 inch wide, 42 inch length)
- unfinished 1 inch x 3 inch x 8 ft cedar board (cut to two 42 inch lengths)
- miter box/saw (or other saw)
- palm or orbital sander
- four to six 1⁄2 inch x 4 inch mending braces
- wood glue
- 1″ brad nails and hammer or four bar clamps (minimum of 18″)
- screw driver
- painter’s tape
- Minwax stainable wood filler
- finish (such as Zinsser shellac-based SealCoat and Minwax Wipe-On Poly)
I found these boards in the “value wood” section at Menards and bought them even though I had no immediate use for them. The boards were very pretty unfinished pine, and each board was made of three smaller boards that were glued together. When I went “shopping” in the garage for this project, I found these boards. They were the right length for a coffee table, and two of them side-by-side were the right width for the legs. After some investigation into the boards, I found out that they are stair risers, the vertical board between two stair steps.
I connected the two boards together with mending braces. Alternately, you could use glue and clamp them, which I would normally do, but I wanted to show another way of connecting the boards which is probably easier for most people. I used four braces.
I positioned the four braces then marked the locations for the screw pilot holes.
Next, I put painter’s tape on my drill bit as a depth guide and drilled the pilot holes.
Then put the screws in.
For the side trim boards, I cut two 42″ lengths from a 1″ x 3″ x 8′ cedar board using a miter box and saw.
I sanded the boards with coarse, medium, and fine sandpaper (60, 120, and 220 grits).
I will show you two different ways of attaching the cedar side boards. I attempted to attach the boards with wood glue and brad nails, but the nails I used were longer than I needed, and if I didn’t get them in straight enough they came through the table top. So mid-stream, I ditched the brad nails and got my bar clamps.
The nail method should work if you use shorter nails. I suggest 1″ brad nails. I put the nails in until they just barely poked through the cedar board. Then I put a line of wood glue (Titebond 3) on the long edge of the table top, set the cedar board on top perpendicular to the table top, and hammered the brad nails in the rest of the way. The brad nails act as a clamp, holding the board in place until the glue sets.
As I mentioned, I had to abandon the nail method because my nails were too long (or my technique not up to par). I used four 24″ bar clamps instead (18″ bar clamps also okay).
I let the glue cure overnight before taking off the clamps. After this, I sanded.
There were little cracks at the wood joints which I filled in with Minwax Stainable Wood Filler. If you put painter’s tape on either side of the crack before you apply the wood filler, it makes sanding the filler easier. After the wood filler dried, I took off the painter’s tape and sanded by hand.
I sealed the tabletop with shellac (Zinsser SealCoat) and put on several top coats of Minwax Wipe-On Poly.
REMOVING FITTINGS FROM A TRAY TABLE AND ATTACHING TO THE BOTTOM OF THE COFFEE TABLE TOP
- plastic fittings from a TV tray table
- screw driver
- yard stick, ruler, pencil
- two heavy-ish objects (for props)
I bought the tray table for this project at Walmart for about $6. I used the plastic fittings and the metal tube legs for this project and saved the top for something later.
The plastic fittings are what holds the metal tube legs in place. I took them off the tray table top with a screw driver.
The photo below shows my setup for figuring out where to mount the fittings on the underside of the coffee table top. There is a lot going on here, so let me walk you through it. First, pop the four plastic fittings onto the cross supports of the metal legs and lay the base of the four plastic fittings flat on the wood. I wanted my coffee table to be 15 inches tall, which is a pretty standard height for coffee tables. I opened the folding legs so that the height of the tip of one of the legs was 15 inches (see the wooden yard stick). If you want your coffee table a different height, set the leg tip to the height on the yard stick you want your coffee table to be. I then propped the metal folding legs in this position (with the flower vase and drill). After this, I made sure the folding legs were centered on the board (see the little brown ruler), with the same amount of board on both sides of the cross bar of the legs.
Without moving a thing, I carefully traced around the base of each of the four plastic fittings.
I then marked the location of the screw pilot holes, put painter’s tape on my drill as a depth guide, and drilled the pilot holes.
Next, I screwed all four of the plastic fittings to the wood.
PUTTING LEGS ON THE TABLE TOP
Okay, this doesn’t really need its own section because it’s so easy. To put the legs on, just pop the cross bars of the legs into the plastic fittings. I line up one bar over the two fittings on each side and put a little pressure on the center of each cross bar with a foot, and they pop right in.
As a side note, I made my folding coffee table with pine, but the stair treads are available in many different wood species that might interest you. That’s it for the folding coffee table. I’m glad you stopped by for another DIY furniture tutorial, and I hope you gained some knowledge and inspiration for your own furniture-making endeavors!
Until next time, all my best!