Our Homemade Coffee Table

First let me say that I really enjoy decorating my own house.  I think it is fun and a challenge to tackle, and I love a good challenge (Must be why I married Will… JK. He is the best ever, in the whole world. Since we met in China I am qualified to say that). Anyway, as our marriage, and consequently our move-in date were impending we began brainstorming about what we wanted our house to look like.  And we both really like a more vintage style.  We stumbled on this awesome coffee table that would go really well in our small house on Pinterest, and fell in love.  Our hearts were set on making it.

If you like it and live with in a couple hours of Lexington, we will make one for you!  Just leave a comment.

Yes, You will have to pay, but you will get an inexpensive and unique coffee table!

This was the pin that caught our eyes.

We shopped around and found that the best deal on unfinished apple crates is at JoAnn Fabrics.  Then we waited till my mom had 40% off AND a 50% off coupons.  We got each crate for about $7.  Total I would say that we spent $50 on our coffee table. That is a really cheap coffee table!

Will’s Updated Instructions (9 January, 2014):

First of all, I have to apologize for not updating this sooner.  This blog is supposed to be a team effort and I fail miserably at that… other than supplying Devra with my hubster seal of approval on the delicious food she makes.

Without further ado, updated instructions:

So here is everything that we bought/everything you will need

  • 4 crates (can be bought at Michaels or Walmart) – I would not pay more than $10 per crate…
  • Stain or paint (whatever finish you decide to use)
  • Wood screws, 1.25” long
  • Wood screws, 1.5” or 2″long
  • 2 – 8’ 2×4 boards
  • Screwdriver
  • Drill

Here are 3 of the 4 crates all stained.

Now for how we made our own awesome coffee table:

Step 1- Stain everything before you put it together.

There are a lot of areas that will be very difficult to stain if you don’t just go ahead and stain the entire crate at the beginning.   I would suggest taking a scrap piece of wood and practice applying stain to it to see what it will look like.  You may have to re-apply the stain for a 2nd coat if you desire a deeper color.

Devra typically handles the staining of the crates, so here is what she has to say about how we did ours:

There are so many cool ways to use tea and steel wool and such to use for awesome vintage looking wood. BUT we didn’t use any of those cool ways, because we wanted to have a black coffee table to match the rest of the furniture in our living room.  So what I did was BARELY BARELY BARELY, let me say it again BARELY dipped the tip of the brush in stain and try to stretch it as far on the wood as possible.  Then I had an extra brush that was dry and would stroke back in the opposite way I had stained to get off excess stain.

Here are my staining tools.
Just typical stain, one brush for staining and one for wiping off the extra.

I tried to stain the crates as lightly as possible to get the vintage look we both like.

Step 2- Arrange the Crates

Arrange the crates so that they form a square.  This will leave an open space in the middle.  At this point, I would drill 3 holes in the crate and mount each crate to one another by putting a screw (the 1.5 or 2 inch screws) into each drilled holes (use the screwdriver for this) so that the table takes on its shape.  See the picture below, which shows where to drill the holes.

  

these plans were made using Google Sketch up.

these plans were made using Google Sketch up.

Step 3- The Base

The base is what has changed the most since we have made several of these now.  Originally, the base was made of 1×4 that were mounted together with an L-bracket.  The 1×4’s split repeatedly when I tried doing it that way, so I have switched to a 2”x4” base.

To know how long to cut the 2×4 boards, measure each the side of the arranged (and screwed together) crates.  Just measure one side and make the cuts.  I prefer to cut my boards at 45 degree angles on the end so that you cannot see and of the rough 2×4 ends.  It should look something like this:

....Can you tell Will is an engineer?  lol.

….Can you tell Will is an engineer? lol.

This picture was taken before we started making the angled corners, but it still gives you an idea.

Step 4 Fasten the base to the crates

Do this by placing screws through the crate side strips into the 2×4 base frame.  Try to get 3 screws per side.

Coffee Table 1

Step 5- *OPTIONAL*

You will notice that there is not much support for the middle of the table, but this should not be an issue unless you plan to stand on the table (which I would not suggest in the first place!).  If you wish, the support issue can be addressed by adding wood supports to the base frame.  You will need to make a couple more 45 degree cuts to do this.

Step 6- Now there is a hole left down the center of your coffee table.  Your options are:

  • Start growing a tree in there and feel very green and proud of yourself.
  • Use it as a secret hiding place by leaving the hole vacant and covering the opening with something with something like.
  • Just cover the opening with something because you are tired of working on it and you just want to enjoy your coffee table (that’s what we did).
  • Put some brackets on the inside, and then cut a piece of wood to slip down inside making it into a little “shelf” or just giving you a flat and complete top.
  • Or leave it empty and put a sheet of glass over top of the coffee table to give you an even/solid surface without taking away from the appearance of the crates.

Step 7- attach wheels or legs to the bottom of the frame if you are so inclined. We have felt on the bottom of ours to protect the wood floors.

Step 8- Put the coffee table in its place and enjoy it!

Here it is! Our coffee table in our living room =)

For us it is perfect!  It maintains the balance of modern and vintage in our front room, is small enough for our space, it is low enough that it doesn’t get in our line of vision when watching TV, and it is the perfect storage space for all our DVD’s and TV series.  =)

We have had our table for over a year now, and it is holding up wonderfully!  Also, we made one for a friend and it survived their cross-country move.  So it might be inexpensive, but it seems to be pretty sturdy so far.   I hope all the updates help!

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  • Got my vintage apple crates today at an out of business apple farm and can’t wait to make my coffee table. I love it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    • You’re very welcome!
      We’ve made a few more since this was written (I need to update it). I’ll try to get it updated in the next couple of days, but definitely feel free to ask us any questions!

      • Melodie Notter

        Can you use one solid piece of wood for the bottom??? To make it more stronger.

        • You could. But we’ve found it is plenty strong if you just add 2 (or 4 if you are really concerned) support pieces to the base/frame. Will cuts them to fit diagonally across a corner. If you do that at the corners it should be plenty strong. Plus a nice sheet of plywood is more expensive.

        • I hope that reply was helpful. If you try it with the sheet of plywood, let us know how it turns out. =) or if you need Us to post a drawing of the diagonal supports I was trying to describe, let me know.

  • Tonja Caudill

    Love it!! Would love to have you build one for our new home… Are you making these & selling them?

    • Tonja, we have made and sold them to people in the area. We can only sell locally because we have no means of shipping the tables. So if your new home is near Lexington, Ky we would love to make one for you.

  • Karen

    Hi How much would one of these tables be to have you make one for me?

    • Karen, we would be happy to make one for you. We typically charge $150 for the tables. Do you live near Lexington? Because we don’t have a means to ship the table we would need to be able to deliver it.

  • Ashley

    Hello!! Are these the updated instructions? If not can they be posted or emailed to me?1

    • No they haven’t been updated. We need to build another one to do the update because we need to take pictures of the process.

  • Ashley

    Can written instructions be emailed to me by any chance?

    • I will get Will on that. =) He is the one who actually does the building.
      It really is a good little table. We’ve had ours for over a year now and it shows no wear.

    • Ashley, The post is updated! I hope that the update helps =)