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When we set out to build this DIY coffee table, we had grand plans to make a waterfall edge, but decided to pivot halfway through. Now it’s cool, it’s modern, and it’s super simple to make.
If I were building it again, I would’ve cut my legs and my top at the beginning and assembled them all separately instead of as one giant slab.
I also would have used 1 less 2×6 on each of the legs so that you don’t have to go back and cut off more off the sides. If you go this route, your legs will sit in an additional 1/2″ on each side than mine do.
I’ll let you decide if you want to take my suggested modifications and run with them or if you would rather do things just how we did them.
Alright, let’s start DIYing! $30 modern coffee table coming right up!
- Miter saw
- Kreg K4 or any pocket hole jig
- Electric sander
- Table saw
- Optional: Circular Saw with track (you could make all your cuts with a table saw, we just like using the circular saw)
What You’ll Need
- (5) 2x6x8 pine (don’t get the pressure-treated version!)
- 2.5″ Kreg screws
- Wood glue
- Sandpaper (60, 80, 120, 180, 220 grit)
- Stain or paint (we used Minwax Solid Stain color-matched to HGSW1481 Carbonized)
- Polycrylic (we chose Satin)
How to Make a Modern Coffee Table
STEP 1: CUT YOUR LUMBER
Cut each piece down to approximately 76-78″.
If you saw my note above, you could also cut your wood down into its 3 sections now. You’d want 8 pieces for the legs and 5 pieces for the top. The final dimensions of the legs will be 16″ and the top will be 42″.
I’d recommend cutting each piece an inch or two longer than needed. This way you don’t have to worry about getting exact cuts or trying to perfectly line up each board when you put them together. We can trim off the excess after everything is glued together.
STEP 2: SQUARE UP YOUR BOARDS
Using the table saw, cut a small amount off of each of your 2x6s. We cut ours so that the final width of each piece was 5″.
You want to square up the edges so that you can create one flush surface. If you don’t square your boards up first, the slightly rounded edges of the 2″ lumber will create little grooves between each board.
STEP 3: ARRANGE YOUR BOARDS
Spend a few minutes arranging your boards based on the wood grain patterns and how they best fit together.
Try to minimize gaps. Clamps will help get some gaps out, but it’s always better if your boards naturally want to fit together.
STEP 4: GLUE
Once you’ve figured out where each board is going to go, it’s time to glue it. On this step, you have to work FAST.
Most glue only has a working time of 5-10 minutes, meaning you just have a few minutes to arrange your boards and get everything clamped before it starts to dry.
Place a generous amount of glue on the sides of your boards and then clamp them together.
When clamping, try to keep the boards flush with one another to minimize sanding later on.
Once clamped, use water to clean up any excess glue that squeezed onto the surface. Then let your boards dry for at least 1 hour. If you have the time, let them dry overnight.
STEP 5: SAND
After you’ve let your glue dry, it’s time to unclamp and break out the sander.
Start with 60-grit sandpaper and try to smooth out the boards so that you have one flat surface.
Continue sanding with higher grits until everything is nice and smooth. You can wait to finish with 220-grit until after you’ve finished all of your cuts.
STEP 6: CUT
Cut your board into two 16″ legs and a 42″ top. If you want your legs to be less narrow than your tabletop like ours is, cut 2″ off of each side of the legs using either a table saw or circular saw.
STEP 7: ADD POCKET HOLES
Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.
Add 5 pocket holes to each leg.
STEP 8: ATTACH LEGS
Using glue and 2.5″ screws, attach the legs to the top of the table. We placed ours 5″ in from the edge of the table top.
Make sure to position your pocket holes towards the center of the table to minimize visibility.
STEP 9: FINISH
If you want to fill your pocket holes, now’s the time to do that. Since we were using a solid stain, we decided to fill them using paint-grade Kreg plugs.
If you are using a normal stain, you’ll want to splurge on the pine Kreg plugs so that they stain more similar to the legs.
Finish your coffee table with your choice of stain or paint. We used Minwax Solid Stain Color to finish our coffee table.
It gives you a pretty solid color, but maintains the texture of the wood. It’s pretty cool up close! If only I could figure out how to photograph it just right.
Then, don’t forget to add a protective top coat!
There you have it! Now you know how to make a super sleek, modern DIY coffee table for right around $30.
Don’t forget to pin the image below for later!