Our coffee table in the family room was a classic Goldilocks story.
First, we had an ottoman that was too small. Also, the cloth top didn’t really work for us, since we use our family room (and the coffee table) to play games, watch TV, and hang out as a family. We needed a hard top.
The coffee table from our old house was just too big for this room (and now resides in our living room).
Then I made a coffee table from an old crate I found at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore. I added reclaimed wood to the top for the table surface. The problem with this is that the reclaimed wood just wasn’t sturdy enough for the wear and tear of us using it daily, even with a clear-coat on top. Back to the drawing board.
I found these finished boards in the basement when I cleaned it out:
I found them under the stairs. I think they were originally shelves, although I can’t figure out where they came from. Anyway, they were already stained and finished with a clear-coat; all they needed was a good cleaning and they could be used. I knew that I’d repurpose them for something…and then it hit me. I could make them into a custom coffee table for the family room!
You can make a coffee table like this even if you don’t have random already-finished boards in your basement! Any scrap wood or other boards will do, including (but not limited to) pine boards, stair treads, or shelves.
- Wood, cut to the size you want. I laid the boards out on the family room floor to figure out that I could use three across for the right size.
- Eight 1/2-inch floor flanges. I used black galvanized flanges and pipe, but, for a more straight-up industrial look, you could use plain galvanized, or you could spray paint them any color you want for a more funky look.
- Four 1/2-inch pipe nipples. I got pipe nipples that were ten inches long, because I knew that’s how tall I wanted the coffee table. Pipe nipples come in different lengths, so choose the size that works for your table. If you can’t find the size you want, you can have your hardware store cut pipe to size and add threaded ends, but this is usually more expensive and certainly more time-consuming.
- Eight metal connectors (also called a “mending plate”).
I used eight-inch-long connectors, pictured above. (As you’ll see in a picture below, the hardware store didn’t have eight of them, so I got seven and used a smaller connector I already had for the last one. I just used the small one on the bottom of the table, where no one would see it. Worked fine.)
- Spray paint. I spray-painted the connectors for the top tier of the table in oil-rubbed bronze, because I knew that these connectors would be seen and I wanted them to match the color of the pipes. I only use Rust-Oleum spray paint; it’s the best.
- Wood screws. Get screws that will fit in the holes of your connectors and are the right size for the boards you are using. I used 1/2 inch wood screws.
- Four casters, if you want your table on wheels (I did).
- Stain and polyurethane if you don’t already have finished boards to work with.
First, I spray painted the connectors. That way, the paint could dry while I prepped everything else.
Next, I cleaned the boards (they had been in the basement and were covered in dust, cobwebs, and caulk) and the pipe pieces. NOTE: if you had pipe cut to size and threaded, then you will have oil on the pipe. Make sure you clean this off, or you will get oil all over you and anything else that pipe touches!
Believe it or not, the hardest part of this whole project was getting the labels off the pipe nipples! I peeled off what I could, then used this to get the rest off:
I sprayed a little solvent on a paper towel and wiped it over the sticky part to get the rest of the label off. Then I rinsed the pipes to remove the solvent. Make sure the pipes are completely dry before attaching them to the table.
OK, here’s how I put the table together.
First, I put the boards together and screwed the connector plates to the backside of the boards for each tier. Make sure you line up the boards so they are even before you attach the connectors.
If you need to, use a clamp or a helper to hold the boards together while you attach the connectors. I used two eight-inch connectors for each side, but – if you can find a longer one or the size of your boards is smaller – you could just use one longer connector plate.
Note: I didn’t spray paint the connectors going on the backside of the bottom tier of the table. They wouldn’t be seen, so I just left them au naturel. I attached the spray-painted connectors to the backside of the top tier of the table.
Working with the bottom tier of the table, attach the casters to the corners of the backside of the bottom tier using wood screws.
Next, flip over the bottom tier and attach the floor flanges to the corners.
I attached them so that they were evenly spaced from the corners.
Next, screw the pipe nipples into the flanges.
I just did this by hand; you don’t need to use a wrench unless you don’t have the hand strength.
Next, screw the last four flanges into the top of the nipples, so that the flanges are facing down/the bottom tier. (You will be attaching the top flanges to the backside of the top tier of the table.)
Flip over the bottom tier – with the nipples and flanges all attached – and lay it on the backside of the top tier of the table. Make sure that the tiers are lined up (I used a little helper with a level for this) and then screw the flanges into the backside of the top tier of the table.
Flip it over and admire your new table!
This whole project took me about two hours to complete, including time for the spray paint to dry. If the boards had not already been finished, it obviously would have taken longer – the boards would have needed stain and a protective clear-coat of polyurethane before becoming a table.
And now we have a coffee table that’s just right for our family room.
Durable, moveable, and with storage, too!
Please let me know if you have any questions!