48″ Walnut DIY Coffee Table

Making of a DIY Coffee Table

Making a coffee table is a great beginning  project for woodworking. Decide what style and size of a table is the first part of the process. Than acquiring the tools and skills necessary to do the work. Woodworking has a lot of great instructional videos and ideas on youtube.

Coffee Table Ideas

I recently got into woodworking and, after looking at the cheap crappy furniture available at the local furniture super store(Mathis Bros?) decided to make my own.

A disclaimer…. I have a relative that lives down the street that is a master woodworker and more than willing to teach me how to make anything. 

My wife and I have both bee wanting to get a new coffee table. Our current table is a leftover from my being single apartment living days. 

 That table also has a glass insert top which is not too kid friendly especially with my table diving 4 year old crazy kid.

We recently(pre-Covid) visited my relative while debating coffee table ideas for our living room. We saw my relative’s newest creation(a coffee table) and decided we wanted one of those.

Finished project

coffee table ideas

What are the right coffee table dimensions?

The standard Coffee table dimensions are:

  • Height: 15 to 20 inches.
  • Length: 36 to 48 inches.
  • Width: 18 to 24 inches.

My coffee table is about 18 inches tall with diameter of 48 inches. It’ll be a big hefty table at about 100 pounds of pure walnut.

The larger size means that there is a smaller chance of our youngest kid messing with the other two(ex. knocking pencil out hand while drawing, than giggling and running away).

How high should a coffee table be?

Coffee table height totally depends on your couch height. Most prefer a four inch max difference in heights. This also depends on your coffee table design and how deep your couch is. 

The best part about making your own table is that if it doesn’t work for your arrangement….its totally your fault.

Table base Ideas

how to make a coffee table

How can you choose anything other than a base with five legs? Its sturdy and this is only the 3rd table of this design.

It wasn’t even too difficult to glue up  while constructing the table. You just need a lot of clamps in the right spots and some patience. 

How to make a wooden table top

Note: the real step one is having a lifetime of experience making custom furniture…or know someone who does.

how to make a wooden table top

  • Step One: 

Get some of the Walnut you bought at the lumber yard. See the article How to Choose the Right Wood for Your Project.

Step Two:

Follow this simple guide to making a Round table top.

  • Cut the appropriate number of boards to the right length. My table has a 48 inch diameter so the shortest one was about 49 inches. 
  • Prep the boards using a drum sander and table saw/jointer to make sure they are true.
  • Use dowls or if you have some fancy tools use a festool domino joiner  to line up the boards.
  • Glue and clamp the boards and let sit overnight. 
  • Draw a circle on top of the glued together boards and cut it out with a jig saw. 
  • Use a router on the edge to make a perfect circle.
  • Use a rounding over bit on the router to give your table the desired edge you  want.
  • start sanding with 80 grit. work your way up to 120, 240, than 400.


how to make a wooden table top

This is my table top at 120 grit sand paper. 

How Long should a coffee table be in relation to the couch?

Most interior designers say that you want to have a coffee table that is 2/3’s the length of your couch. 

if you have a 5 foot long couch you would want a 40 inch long coffee table. We are going with a round one. 

How much space do you need for a coffee table?

You want to have enough room to be able to easily walk between the table and the couch. That is balanced with the ability to easily get drinks or snacks or play games on the coffee table.

Normal distance is about a foot and a half with the couch cushion height and table top a couple of inches different.

Best DIY Coffee table ideas

Decide what you like and than go straight to Youtube and find a woodworker that you like. 

A coffee table is a great place to start as long as you don’t make it too complicated with too many legs. 

Making a table top is a great way to learn the basics of woodworking and the importance of properly preparing your wood for joining. 

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