I Made A Coffee Table!

I mentioned on here last week that I was starting out on a new adventure of learning to build things out of wood. I’ll admit, the jump was a little scary because it would mean making something that actually looked nice, not just cutting some stuff, screwing it together and having it do the job for a while.

I got all drooly looking at ana-white.com and seeing all the fabulous plans on there. I decided to start with a cool coffee table with a trundle storage box under it. You can find the plans for it HERE.

What I love about the plans on her site is that they’re simple and easy to follow, and that others are able to post their version of things so you can see how people tweak and change things up. It’s really fun and inspirational.

In Haiti you can buy what they call “planch prepare” which are the plained boards that you would find in any normal hardware store in North America. OR, you can get the rough, just cut boards. They’re actually the measurements that they are called, like a 2×4, rather than being called a 2×4 but actually measuring 1 3/4 x 3 3/4. And they’re rough in the sense that they haven’t been all planed down and sanded. The majority of what I got were the rough boards. They cost a bit less, and really aren’t terrible to work with if you want to put the time into it.

The beginnings.

A not so handy helper!

My “work bench”.

There could be worse places to work.

I spent Friday evening last weekend sanding down the rough boards for what I needed (I bought wood for several projects all at once) so that I could get an early start on Saturday morning. Saturday I spent the entire day cutting and screwing and gluing and nailing. I didn’t even stop for lunch! I had so much fun! Sunday I filled some holes and left things to dry for a couple days. Wednesday ended up being a holiday here so I spent the day putting everything together and surprised myself by getting as far as putting the stain on. Thursday after work I did the first coats of varnish. Friday I put wheels on the trundle and varnished the table top. Today we moved that baby in!

Here’s the finished product!

I’m really happy with how it turned out. And so is Chris. When I first told him what I wanted to do he didn’t work very hard at hiding his doubt that it would turn out well. When I started building he came down to check my progress and at one point said, “I’m just worried it’s not going to be very solid. Like, will someone be able to sit on it?” After I put the sides together I let him pick one up. They each weigh at least 20 lbs. It’s solid. And yes, you can sit on it.


Wood used: I really have no idea what kind it was, but if I had to guess I would say pine.

Stain used:  One coat of Early American by ZAR. I brushed on a liberal coat, let it sit for about 10-15 minutes, then wiped it off with a clean old t-shirt. Let it dry overnight.

Varnish: Two coats of clear polyurethane, brushed on.

Hardware: Drawer handles from IKEA, 2 ” swivel casters.

Total cost: About $85 US for everything (wood, hardware, stain & varnish)

What I learned while making this:

  • TONS! Ha ha!
  • Messed up a few cuts, but thankfully was able to use the scraps for other parts of the project.
  • Learned a few things about using wood filler.
  • Learned all about pocket holes and how to use my Kreg pocket hole jig :)
  • Learned about staining – it was the first time I’d stained anything.
  • Learned about varnishing. Thin coats are good. I didn’t goop things on, but rather was grateful that I was doing thin layers.
  • Really challenged myself to read through things several times AND to really take my time. I have a hard time with that, but the results are so worth it.
  • I learned that I really can do this and make something fabulous.

When I started this one thing I decided right off the bat was that I would be content with imperfection. I had to, to some degree, because the wood I was working with was far from perfect. I tried to get the best that I could, but some pieces were still a bit warped and I had to sand it down to get something worth working with. I told Chris that I was actually kind of excited about the wood and just kept telling myself that it was like working with reclaimed wood – that people spend a lot of money on in some cases. Or, they build a piece of furniture and distress it by banging all sorts of things on it to mark it up and give it character. In my case I had to take a lot of that distress out of the wood and find the beauty in it. And I love it. I love that there are knot holes and that I actually intentionally kept them on the surface rather than hiding them. I love that you can still see saw marks on some boards from when the wood was originally cut.

I also told Chris that part of the reason I wanted the imperfections was because we aren’t perfect. We’re rough around the edges. We’re a young family. I wanted furniture that we could really live with. I didn’t want to be worried that the kids would spill things or drive cars on it or bang it up. I wanted something to put our feet up on while we watched a movie together. I wanted to have a place where the kids could play. Our house is small too, so having the extra storage space is fabulous.

This morning when we moved it in and showed the kids how the drawer worked they both got excited. Chris and I got into doing other things for a few minutes and then I looked over to find this:

The other thing I love about this is that it’s the first piece of furniture, aside from some cheap night stands and two night stand/dresser thingies for the kids room, that I’ve picked out. Every other piece of furniture has either been donated, picked out by someone else, or I slapped it together from scraps of other stuff around here.

I love too that I was able to do this, in Haiti. Yes, I had to do some planning and bring certain things in, but I did it. And, if I can do it under those circumstances, then I know that there are people out there that have access to all of this stuff that can do it too. And you should! Why spend a crazy amount of money on something you can build yourself? And build the way you want to! Do it!

To celebrate the completion of my first major build we put some toys in the drawer, put our feet up and watched a movie as a family.

And now, I have a very important play date where there will be some car driving and Candy Land playing with a certain 4 year old.


This entry was posted in crafty, this is life and tagged , , , by Leslie. Bookmark the permalink.

About Leslie

I'm Leslie. Wife. Mother. Missionary. In the day to day my husband and I are responsible for running Clean Water for Haiti, a humanitarian mission that builds and distributes water filters to Haitian families. Living in Haiti full time provides lots of stories, and as I tell my husband, our grandkids probably won't believe most of them. Maybe writing them down will give me some credibility.

7 thoughts on “I Made A Coffee Table!

  1. Wow! I am both impressed and inspired. I always wanted to build things – especially bookcases, but was too intimidated with on one to teach me. This is a BEAUTIFUL piece and also so practical. We could use a trundle drawer to pull out for magazines and books and newspapers, which stay so messy on our coffee table, though I love the little stowaways in yours better! Great job! I am going to check out that site.

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