This mid-century modern coffee table looks terrific. It also has plenty of storage space for magazines, remote controls or decorative items.
Alex Mazhukhin or Mr. Buildit created this woodworking project, and here he shares his step-by-step tutorial so you can build your own mid-century modern coffee table.
DIY Mid-Century Modern Coffee Table
- (10) Poplar 1 in. x 6 in. x 6 ft.
- (1) Poplar 2 in. x 2 in. x 4 ft. 9
- Pocket Screws (1¼ in.)
- Wood Glue
- Circular Saw
- Table Saw
- 24 Tooth Ripping Blade
- Trim Router
W45-3/8 x D21-5/8 x H17-3/3
*Side Panels 9-1/4 in. with 30 degree miters
*Leg- 8-3/4 in. Cut (8 in. Standing)
Step 1: Glue-Up Paneling
Glue up the boards using wood glue. Make sure you’re thorough with the glue, and place clamps 6-12 inches apart. Keep in mind when picking out your boards: the straighter they are, the smoother the clamping process. Leave the boards glued up overnight to ensure full curing.
Step 2: Sanding
Once the glue fully dries, sand the boards with 80 grit sandpaper to ensure that all of the excess glue from the seams is gone and the boards are smooth.
Step 3: Angles
The angles on this coffee table can be between 20-30 degrees. I went with 30 degrees for the legs, and 20 degrees for the tabletop. This allows for my table to have plenty of storage space.
You can cut the side panels to reflect your desired angles using a table saw with the blade set to the appropriate angle. I decided to use a circular skill saw with a straight edge to accomplish the same task.
Step 4: Assembly
I decided to use loose tenons to glue up all of the pieces on this coffee table. This is an extensive task and requires a specialty tool to accomplish it with efficiency. If you’re looking for an alternative jointing approach, I recommend using Brad nails and wood glue.
Regardless of which approach you take on this table, the key is placing plenty of evenly spread wood glue followed by a strategic placement of clamps. Because we’re dealing with sharp angles, I recommend keeping a protractor handy throughout the clamping process to ensure your angles do not get misaligned as you tighten your clamps. As you can see, this process is not pretty, so have your damp rag handy to wipe the excess glue.
Step 5: Tapered Legs
The tapered legs are iconic to the mid-century look. I created a jig for my table saw that allows for my piece to be clamped down at a desired angle and run through a 24T ripping blade on my table saw. I made these legs to be 10 inches long, so when it came down to setting the appropriate taper, I just set the jig to cut from a 1-inch mark out to the entire 2-inch thickness of the wood.
Step 6: Jointing Legs
I decided to go with the mortise and tenon jointing method with the legs. This method is a very classic approach, and it is very strong.
Step 7: Attaching Legs
If you decided to go with the pocket holes on the previous step, you’re in luck. I used pocket holes and screws to attach the legs to the base as well.
Step 8: Edges
A router is your best friend to ensure an even edge throughout your entire project. I used a trim router with a ⅜ in. round edge bit. It really softens the look of the project.
Step 9: Final Sanding
Sand your project up to a 220 grit. This will give your new table a smooth finishing surface to receive whatever stain or clear coat you choose to apply.
Step 10: Finish
For my finish I went with three coats of coffee grounds that I brewed and then applied with a rag, giving it a unique cream color. You can use any kind of stain you like, and seal it off with a polycrylic to allow for years of protection from wear and tear.