Andrew and I tackled a DIY drop zone for his sister and it included an awesome herringbone drawer. The second I saw the finished drawer, I dreamt of all the places I could incorporate the pattern into our house…the kitchen island, a coffee table, a bench.
Andrew couldn’t stand the thought of adding 10 more projects to the list when he had just finished one, so we put it on the back burner.
Well, Andrew did.
I couldn’t stop dreaming about a new coffee table. So when I had a day off work and Andrew was traveling, I decided to knock it out myself and surprise him with a new coffee table top! If I can do it, you can too!
Plot twist: this was the first time I ever used any of these tools by myself (or even touched a circular saw).
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Now that you know that YOU, yes you, can make this table, let’s start DIYing!
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What You’ll Need
How to make a DIY herringbone coffee table
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Step 1: make a guide
Cut a piece of cardboard, paper, or fabric to the size that you would like your final table to be. Draw a line down the center so that you can use it as a guide to line up your wood. This will act as a guide for you at multiple steps in this tutorial.
Step 2: Cut your wood
Set your miter saw to 45-degrees and cut each 1x3x8 to various lengths. Place them on top of your guide to see if you need to cut them smaller or larger. You don’t need to worry about cutting them to the exact size yet–just try to minimize waste.
And remember that there will be a 1×2 framing the side, so it’s okay if there is a gap that is less than 1.5″ on any side. Bonus points if you can arrange different wood grains to be next to each other for added contrast.
Once you have your wood pieces arranged, sand off any splinters that occurred from cutting the wood. Sand with the wood grain using a 60 grit sandpaper. Since there isn’t too much to sand on each board, I complete this step by hand.
STEP 3: drill pocket holes
Flip over one side of your table and pre-drill pocket holes into the backside of your table. Alternate directions to maximize stability. You will also need to add pocket holes on the inside edge of your boards to attach each side of the table together.
I recommend adding a pocket hole to screw into the other side of your table on every other or every 2 boards. When you pre-drill on the other side, make sure to alternate which side has the pocket hole.
Try to avoid drilling pocket holes that will get cut off in the end. If they are 1.5″ from the edge of your cardboard guide or extend past it, they will get cut off!
Step 4: assemble
Grab 3-4 boards at a time. Glue and clamp them together and then secure with screws in the pocket holes. If you have large clamps, you can screw the boards together all at once, but our clamps were only big enough for 3-4 boards.
Once you’ve finished screwing together sets of 3-4, glue and screw the sets together to make half of the tabletop. repeat with the other side. Before screwing the two sides together, complete the next two steps.
step 5: sand
Sand each half of your table using 60 grit sandpaper. Once all of the boards feel even and there are not any that are sticking up higher than the rest, move onto 80 grit sandpaper.
Then move onto 120 grit and then 220 grit for an extra smooth finish. You will spend the most time sanding with 60 grit.
Place the two sides of your table side by side as if you were going to screw them together. Look at the gaps between the two sides and mark any areas where the boards are flush and do not have a gap.
You will want to sand the side of half of your table in these areas. The goal is as tight of a seam as possible. Continue putting the boards together and sanding down areas that do not have a gap until the two sides are fitting together well.
Step 6: Attach the sides
Screw the two sides of your table together. Note: we did not add wood glue here to avoid needing to sand extensively. We wanted to avoid scratching the surface of the wood.
You might want to sand down the center seam so that the table is more smooth all the way across. You have to proceed with caution to avoid scratching the other side of your table, but we do have a tip. Take painters tape and tape right next to the seam. Double up layers and then sand with caution.
Note: if using a random orbital sander, you don’t need the tape since you don’t have to sand with the grain. Use tape and avoid sanding against the grain if you’re using another type of sander or sanding by hand.
step 7: cut the excess
Grab the table guide that you made in step 1 and place it on top of your table top. Trace the guide onto your table.
Once you have the full size of the table marked on your wood, grab your 1x2s and place them on the inside of the line. Trace the 1x2s to make a smaller version of your table (1.5″ smaller on each side).
Clamp your tabletop to a solid surface and use your circular saw to cut along the smaller table outline. To get a straight line, we screwed a spare 1×2 into the table top. If you don’t have a spare 1×2, you can use any spare board or clamp the 1x2s that you will use for the trim pieces.
You need to measure 1.5″ from the inside of your small line to set up a guide since the circular saw blade is 1.5″ in from the metal safety guide. Once you’ve cut your tabletop into a rectangle, it’s time to cut your trim pieces.
Step 8: frame your table
Clamp your tabletop to a solid surface and use your circular saw to cut along the smaller table outline. To get a straight line, we screwed a spare 1×2 into the table top.
If you don’t have a spare 1×2, you can use any spare board or clamp the 1x2s that you will use for the trim pieces. You need to measure 1.5″ from the inside of your small line to set up a guide since the circular saw blade is 1.5″ in from the metal safety guide.
Once you’ve cut your tabletop into a rectangle, it’s time to cut your trim pieces.
Sand your 1x2s. Since you don’t want to scratch your tabletop by sanding against the grain, it is much easier to sand before securing the trim pieces.
On the backside of your tabletop, drill pocket holes around the edges of your tabletop to use to secure the 1x2s to the table.
Drill the trim pieces to your tabletop.
Step 9: stain and seal
First, stain the entire table lightly using a cloth. Try to get the stain applied as lightly as possible. This will help you identify the areas that will naturally take the stain better. Once you’ve applied the stain lightly all over, coat your table edges with stain using a paintbrush (or you could apply it thickly using a cloth).
Let the stain sit on the edges for 10-15 minutes for a darker color. If you get any stain on the table that shouldn’t be there, wipe it off with a clean cloth asap. If you want to add more depth to the table, you can do two things. First, you can paint the stain onto select boards and let them sit for longer (10-15 minutes).
To add even more depth, you can mix stains and add different stain colors to the table on certain boards (dark walnut, special walnut, gray, chestnut, etc). Play around with the stain and darkening certain pieces until you accomplish your desired look.
Sometimes you’ll get lucky and most of the pieces will stain differently from the beginning?
Seal your table following the instructions of your polyurethane or sealer of choice.
Step 10: Attach legs of your choosing
For extra support and stability, you can build this table on top of a piece of plywood or wood and adhere using wood glue and screws.
If you go this route, you will need to use 2x2s rather than 1x2s to hide the support board. This is also a great option for those looking for a thicker table top.
Check out these metal leg options:
There you have it! For $30 worth of wood, you were able to make a Pinterest worthy coffee table! We can’t wait to see your awesome tables (or benches), so be sure to share a photo with us on Instagram (@craftedbythehunts)!