How to Make a DIY Wooden Coffee Table

by Chris Lambton

A coffee table can quickly become the focal point of a room, and a homemade piece can instantly elevate its status when compared to a store-bought version. I like building my own furniture because I am able to take control of the entire creation process. From sourcing materials to construction and styling, I get to make every aspect fit my design style. Plus, making my own pieces gives me a greater appreciation for the items that go into my home. I thought up the design and built it with my own two hands, so it has special meaning and I know it will stand the test of time.

How to Make a DIY Wooden Coffee Table

In this article, you'll learn the basic steps to creating a DIY coffee table. We'll go over the materials and tools needed, the step-by-step-instructions and some quick styling ideas.

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Materials Needed for your DIY Coffee Table:

  • 2" Screws
  • 1¼" Screws – these will be used for attaching the bottom shelf only
  • Four pieces of 2" x 6" walnut pre-cut at 5 feet long – these will be the top of the DIY coffee table
  • One piece of ¾" walnut pre-cut at 5' x 19" – this will be the bottom shelf of the DIY coffee table
  • Two pieces of 2" x 2" walnut pre-cut at 6' long – these will make up the ends, or legs, of the DIY coffee table
  • The pieces of 2" x 2" will be cut to the following dimensions later in our project
  • Four 11" pieces
  • Two 19" pieces
  • Two 22" pieces

For my piece, I wanted a walnut DIY coffee table because that is the type of wood I have featured throughout the rest of my space, but you can select any type of wood for your aesthetic. You can also purchase less costly wood, like poplar, which is widely used for many builds and takes stains well. Simply stain it to match your desired wood color instead of buying the true wood type that you are looking to match. If you are using walnut like me, I recommend using Tung oil to seal it and protect from the elements. It's food safe, kid-friendly, water resistant and non-toxic.

How to Make a Simple Coffee Table

Step 1

Pre-drill holes to join your wood pieces together.

Cut your wood to size. Then, make a mark ¾" in from both ends of both of the 22" 2" x 2"s right in the center. Then, pre-drill a hole with your Fiskars® Precision Hand Drill using a bit slightly smaller than the screws you will be using. Doing this will prevent your wood pieces from splitting and allow the screw to hold the pieces together when you add that in Step 2.

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Step 2

Attach your wood pieces.

Using the 2" screws and your screwdriver, attach all four 11" pieces cut from one of the 2" x 2" to the pre-drilled 22" pieces that you assembled in Step 1. Each 22" piece will have two 11" legs attached.

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Next, measure 2" up from the bottom of the four 11" pieces that you just attached and make a mark in the center of the leg width. Pre-drill a hole where you marked and then screw in a 19" piece of wood.

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You have just constructed the two ends of your coffee table. The four pieces of 2" x 6" wood will make up the top of the DIY coffee table and the ¾" walnut plywood will make the bottom shelf.

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Step 3

Attach the coffee tabletop to the ends.

Lay all four of the 2" x 6" pieces of wood across the top of the ends that you constructed in Step 2 and attach to each side by pre-drilling holes and using the screwdriver to secure the top to the ends. Screwing, rather than hammering, will better secure the wooden pieces together.

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Step 4

Create the lower shelf.

Lay your walnut plywood piece on top of the 2" x 2"s that are 2" from the bottom to create your bottom shelf. Attach using the drill to pre-drill the holes and the screwdriver to attach using the 1 ¼" screws.

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How Much Does It Cost to Build a DIY Coffee Table?

It costs around $200 for all the materials needed to make your DIY coffee table. Considering the handmade quality of the piece, I think this is a bargain!

How to Finish Your Coffee Table

Now that your DIY coffee table is assembled, you can add your own creative touch. Add some paint in certain areas to create a fun design going across the top or paint the ends or base shelf to add a pop of color to the wooden piece. You can also use a stain or Tung oil to seal your DIY coffee table to better protect it from water marks or liquid spills.

How to Style your DIY Coffee table

Styling your DIY coffee table is entirely up to you. I wanted mine to be easily stored under my couch, so I could bring it out when needed or tuck it away when I want more space. When it is out, I like to keep it pretty clean – just placing some coasters and magazines on top. That being said, if your coffee table is going to be a stationary piece, I always recommend adding a vase filled with either flowers or branches to add some height and dimension to the piece. On the lower shelf, I would keep books as well as some handy storage baskets to hold items like remotes and charging cords.