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How To Build A Home Office – The Coffee Table

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Every office needs a coffee table.  Whether it's to hold meetings with clients around, spread out potential magazines for querying on or to simply have somewhere to rest your feet during your mid-morning break, a coffee table has a variety of uses.

Unlike my previous two posts (how to build a desk and a bookcase), I haven't actually made this coffee table myself.  I drew up some basic plans a few years back but ended up being donated a table that was too much of a stunning antique to pass upon.

Just like the desk and bookcase, this table isn't meant to be massively aesthetically pleasing, but more to serve its purpose without spending money on what can be expensive shop bought variations.

Materials Needed

  • One piece of 4' x 2' MDF (the choice is yours, I just planned to use MDF for money cost originally), somewhere between a half to three quarters of an inch thick (at least)
  • Four pieces of wood (again, the choice is yours, but it should be strong - MDF could work, but something stronger here would be preferred) that are 14" x 2" x 2"
  • Two pieces of 10" x 2" x 2" wood (same as that used above)
  • Two pieces of 3' x 2" x 2" wood (same as that used above)

Equipment Needed

  • Ten 1.25" wood screws
  • Four 3" wood screws
  • Screwdriver
  • Wood glue
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Ruler / straight piece of wood

1.  Lay the 4' x 2' piece of wood on the floor and on the two longest edges, mark 5 inches from each end and on the two shortest edges, mark 6 inches from each end.  Draw lines linking the opposite markings up (so there should be two horizontal lines and two vertical lines, making a 3' 2" x 12" rectangle)


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2.  In each of the drawn rectangle's corners, mark 1" away from the corner, on the sides of the intersection that make up part of the larger rectangle

3.  Looking at the longer sides of this drawn rectangle, place a some wood glue along the line, starting and ending where you have made 1" markings.  Place a piece of the 3' wood on this glue and press firmly.  Repeat the same process for the opposite side

4.  Carry out exactly the same process for the two shorter sides, using the 10" pieces of wood

5.  After waiting for the glue to set a little, place 6 of the 1.25" screws in equal distances in each of the 3' pieces of wood and 4 of the 1.25" screws in equal distances along both of the 10" pieces of wood

5.  You should now have somewhat of a frame, with 4 gaps in the corners

5.  Placing glue in each of the four corners, press the legs (the 14" pieces of wood) right into the corners of the frame and hold for a few seconds until they become rigid

6.  With the remaing 4 screws, insert them from one side of the leg through to an adjoining part of the frame (it doesn't make a difference which, as long as it's in centre)

7.  Leave to dry for a few hours, turn upside down and voila, you have a fully functioning coffee table

Like I said, as with the previous projects, this home coffee table isn't particularly aesthetically pleasing, but it gets the job done.  You can amend it as you like - reshaping the legs is pretty easy, tapering them in so they are thinner at the bottom and obviously staining the wood is a great idea if you're wanting to make it look less, well, DIY-ish - but the table should fulfill it's function perfectly just as it is.

Any questions, comments or problems, let me know.

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Dan is a freelance writer and small business consultant. Dividing his time between writing for both individual clients and national corporations and giving a helping hand to many small startup companies, he has several years experience in both areas, as well as a strong background in Search Engine Optimisation.

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5 Comments

  1. Jenn Mattern May 2, 2010 Reply

    I actually can’t picture most freelancers wanting a coffee table in their home office. :P Maybe an idea for a future post (something at least I’d personally be interested in) is a standing desk (so we’re not on our asses all day, every day). I know you can buy one, but I’m sure someone could make one fairly easily as well. :)

    • Author
      Dan Smith May 3, 2010 Reply

      Hey, I use my coffee table all of the time!

      But then maybe I’m the exception? I tend not to use it for many meetings, but it makes for a great place to spread out.

      Will definitely take a look at a standing desk and if anyone’s got any other suggestions, just let me know :)

      • Jennifer Mattern May 3, 2010 Reply

        Yo mentioned some good suggestions to me that I’ll try to remember to pass along. One though was how to fix / deal with a leaning bookcase. I think that’s a great idea. Another writer actually emailed me a few weeks back mentioning how she was injured because of a leaning bookcase.

  2. Wood Screws September 29, 2010 Reply

    Jennifer, to repair your book case, you could try fixing it directly to the wall to provide it with extra stability, alternatively locate where the weak link is within the case and use adhesive to try and stiffen it up again.

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