Coffee Table

I’ve been meaning to build a coffee table for years. I wanted it to look like something store-bought, since it was going to be in the middle of our living room. I’ve come close to building it a few times over the past few years, but never could pull the trigger on it. I’ve actually gone to buy the wood and walked out empty handed because of a lack of confidence. Last weekend I finally got around to building it. This was the design:


It’s more complex than it looks, since almost all the boards have to be routed in some way. Sometimes it’s hard to remember the exact order in which everything has to be cut, sanded, glued, and assembled when everything is scattered around a messy garage.

This is the top piece. The curved side will be the outer lip, and the other side will hold the glass. Then it’ll have to be mitered to be exactly square or else the glass won’t fit.


Next the wood on the outside edges had to be cut out to hold paneling. Here it is, showing all the bracing that had to be put in place so the drawers will slide smoothly:


Here it is with the top piece on. You can also see the drawer assembly. The bottoms had to be perfectly cut and dropped into a routed channel. That method not only makes it stronger, but it keeps them square: (that mess is so embarrassing)


I spent the last week filling the screw holes and pine knots with wood filler – over and over again. I wanted it to be flawless when we primed and coated it with black lacquer to match our dining room table and chairs.

And then on Friday night, everything went horribly wrong…

The guys at the paint store said you can’t paint on lacquer; it has to be sprayed. I figured it must be possible, since the lacquer on my dining room set was applied with a brush.

Apparently the paint professionals know what they’re talking about. When we finished applying the lacquer to the piece, it looked like a badly iced cake. It was so far gone, and I was so disappointed, that I almost took an axe to it. Literally.

My wife slowly talked me down from the ledge, and on Saturday we spent hours stripping the lacquer off and sanding it back to the wood. By the end of the ordeal, I was dripping with both sweat and rage.

After 10,000 cuts and burn marks from all the chemicals, it started to resemble my coffee table again:

We painted it with a high-gloss black latex, gave it a little clear coat for the shine, and it eventually turned out great:


Naturally, it was entirely too high, so I had to scrap the feet and create some new ones out of an old 4×4 post. These feet came out better anyway.

It’s finally done and I’m pretty happy with it. I still think it’s too high for a coffee table, but I guess I’ll eventually get used to it.


I intentionally made the drawers deep so my wife could store some picture albums on one side, but we were wasting space on the other. I used some scrap wood to make a sliding compartment to hold some coasters and our remote controls:


Coffee Table
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