coffee table

Make a Contemporary Coffee Table Easily

A contemporary coffee table has storage for anything from CDs to magazines. It’s easy to put together over a weekend and sturdy enough to enjoy for many years.

Project notes

• Metal supplier to cut these lengths (A) for you and possibly also to cut the 45  angles at the required ends of the specified lengths.

• Both ends of frame lengths (A) need to be cut at 45

• Make sure to cut these 45  angles inwards from the lengths listed. Remember, they must taper toward the same side in order to complete a frame.

• Ask your wood merchant to drill two holes in each of the four lids (H) for the cupboard hinges.

Quick project guide

Difficulty rating:  5/10 Skill level:  7/10

Time needed:  about five hours (excluding drying time)

Do it yourself for ±R700

Retail price:  around ±R3500

Shopping list

• Base frame: 25mm X 25mm X 2mm square steel tubing: (A) 4 X 1 200mm X 25mm X 25mm (frame lengths) (B) 4 X 225mm X 25mm X 25mm (frame legs) • Tabletop with storage: 16mm Supawood • (C) 2 X 1 168mm X 134mm X 16mm (longer sides) • (D) 2 X 1 200mm X 134mm X 16mm (longer sides) • (E) 4 X 584mm X 134mm X 16mm (shorter sides) • (F) 4 X 568mm X 134mm X 16mm (partition dividers) • (G) 1 X 1 200mm X 1 200mm X 16mm (base) • (H) 4 X 598mm X 598mm X 16mm (lids)

Other items to buy

• 2mm welding rods • 8 X cupboard hinges • 4 X 25mm plastic end caps (for under table legs) • ± 32 X 8mm X 16mm chipboard screws (to fix hinges) • ±12 X 8mm X 25mm chipboard screws (to join partition dividers) • ± 50 X 8mm X 40mm chipboard screws (to construct table-top frame) • Thinners and old rags • Metal primer • Enamel or Duco spray paint • Wood filler • Wood glue • Multisurface/wood primer • Foam roller • Paintbrush


• Electric drill and screw-bit extension • 3mm wood drill bit and countersinking bit • Angle grinder with steel cutting/grinding disc • Hacksaw (optional – ask your steel supplier to cut the lengths and angles) • Welding machine and welding rods • 90/45  magnets • G-clamps • Hammer • Chipping hammer and wire brush • Tape measure or steel ruler • Pencil/chalk • Tri square • Welding safety equipment (helmet, gloves)

Get started

Steel framework

1  The steel frame of our coffee table base measures 1 200mm X 250mm (height). If you have not managed to have the ends of lengths (A) cut at 450, mark these now and use a hacksaw or angle grinder to make these cuts. Once you have cut all the required angles, place the four 1 200mm lengths (A) in position, creating a square, and weld the frame at the corners, as shown. Make sure the angles are at perfect right angles.  TIP  First ‘tack weld’ the corners and make sure these are at 900 before completing the weld.

2  Use the chipping hammer to remove any excess flux, then use the angle grinder to finish of any rough welds and neaten the corners. Now weld the four 225mm X 25mm X 25mm legs (B) in place onto the corners of the frame you created in step 1, making sure these are perpendicular to the square frame.  IMPORTANT  It is very important to make sure the legs are plumb. Use the tri-square to be certain.

3  Use the chipping hammer to remove any excess flux and then wire brush any hard to reach places. Use the angle grinder to finish of any rough welds and to neaten the corners.

4  Use a hammer to tap the four plastic end caps into the bottom of the legs. Clean the entire frame with a thinners-soaked rag and then coat the entire frame with a metal primer. Once dry, paint with good enamel in the color of your choice. We used a chrome/silver deco spray paint to finish our frame.

Coffee-table top

5  Use the tape measure and tri-square to measure and mark a line exactly midway along (584mm from either end) and across both the 2 X 1 200mm X 134mm X 16mm longer sides (D).

6  Use one of the shorter pieces of 16mm Supawood as a measure to mark lines 16mm either side of the lines created above.

7  Use the 8mm X 25mm chipboard screws together with the wood glue and join together two partition dividers from the 4 X 568mm X 134mm X 16mm pieces (F). Drill pilot holes, and then countersink these before screwing the two together.

8  Use the 3mm drill bit to drill pilot holes between the lines created in step 1 and into the partitions created in step 7. This step needs to be repeated on the other 1 168mm X 134mm X 16mm longer side (C). Countersink these holes, then use the cordless drill and 40mm chipboard screws to fasten each partition, set in place midway along each of the 1 168mm sections (C).  TIP  Use a block of wood fixed to the work surface to press against.

9 Now repeat the process of drilling, countersinking, gluing and screwing when fixing the 4 shorter sides (E – 584mm X 134mm X 16mm) to the ends of the 2 longer sides (D – 1 200mm X 134mm X 16mm).  NOTE  When fixing, make sure the longer sides (E) overlap the shorter sides (E), as shown.

10  Complete the frames by fixing the remaining edges together as shown.

11 Now use the 40mm chipboard screws and the glue to join the two completed frames (created in step 11) together to create the table framework, as shown.

12 Place the 1 200mm X 1 200mm X 16mm base (G) on top of this framework and fix together following the same fixing process outlined above.

13 Use the tri-square to make sure the 8 X cupboard hinges are fixed at 90  to the edges of the 4 X 598mm X 598mm X 16mm lids (H), as shown. Use the 8mm X 16mm chipboard screws to fix the hinges into place.

14 Now fix each lid to the inside lengths (1 200mm length – D) of the framework created in steps 5 – 12.  NOTE  When the lids are down, it should leave a +/- 4mm gap between each of the four lids from the outer corners.

15 Use offcut blocks of wood to create four corner blocks that sit 25mm from the edges on the bottom corners of the coffee table. These blocks will sit within the steel framework and hold the top in position. Now use the paintbrush or foam roller to coat the Supawood structure with the multisurface primer or wood primer. Follow this by painting the coffee-table top in the color of your choice. We chose white gloss enamel finish.

This coffee table will take center stage in any living room.

Each of the four compartments can be used to house books, throws or your music collection. The lids have no handles, which helps retain the illusion that it is just a table top.