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Looking for plans/ideas for a modern coffee table

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Digizz

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Now my workshop is finished and fully stocked with tools :) I thought my first project in there would be a coffee table for the living room.

I want to build a contemporary (square legged) style table - like the many you see in John Lewis etc. Quite simple I think and maybe with a glass top insert.

If I go for a solid wood top - would it be better to use some kind of veneered blockboard or make it out of solid timber? It will be reasonably big (and square). I was thinking about the shrinkage issue.

Anyone seen any plans for something like this? (mainly for a few hints and tips on joints etc - although I'm thinking a simple mortice and tennon jointed frame with overhanging table top).

I'm not sure what wood yet - probably something like maple and I haven't a clue as to what finish to use either!

Any pointers or thoughts most appreciated :)
 

Chris Knight

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Digizz,

If you want a solid top, the shrinkage issue is not a problem as the legs and rails support the top which is fixed to them in such a way (using "buttons" or a similar approach) as to allow the top to expand and contract as it likes.

A glass top would be best inserted in a rebated frame something like a picture frame. Joinery at the corners depends whether you want a mitred corner and if you mind any end grain showing.

The issue of end grain applies to a solid top, some don't want to see it, others (myself included) feel it is just as nice as any other part of the wood in a tabletop. You can cater for either preference with eg breadboard ends to hide end grain.

The wood you choose depends on the look you are after. Do you want a very pale timber like maple, or a browner wood? If making a solid top from maple you will need to have your planes well tuned as it can be difficult to plane without tearout.

I suggest you try and narrow down your design options a bit more from the perspective of how you want the table to look. This will help decide on some of the open issues as the look you are seeking will dictate to a large degree , your joinery and other things.
 

Digizz

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Thanks Chris,

I do have a particular design in mind - I guess I just need to draw it out. I was after plans and other designs to get an idea of proportions/sizes for various components.
 

dedee

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Digizz,

For proportions & sizes I suggest you visit a furmiture store with a tape measure and note pad. It worked for me.

I do remember sitting at dining table in a showroom thinking that this is the size I would like. When the table was finished I soon discovered that when fully laden with place settings, serving dishes etc that it was in fact a little smaller than ideal. So try an imagine what the table will look like when fully laden with everything you expect to put on it.

AndyP
 

SimonA

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If you post a pic of the kind of table your after I'm sure the kind folks on this site will help out with different kinds of joinery......

SimonA
 

Digizz

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Thanks guys - I did have a search on the Internet but haven't found anything near yet. I'll go and have a look in a couple of furniture shops and take some pics (cheeky!).
 

ike

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Anyone seen any plans for something like this?
Yes, I think have something that may well interest you - square, glass inset, mitred top, flush legs, no rails - very contempary. I need though, to figure how to show images from home snailband. I probably won't find the time (or inclination) to fart with ancient laptop this weekend, so otherwise can piggyback off works webserver next week.

cheers

Ike
 

johnelliott

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Go with your own design. Maybe get some height suggestions from furniture shops etc but design it yourself, to suit your taste, your skills and your equipment
John
 

colinc

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Perhaps not the exact style that you are looking for but there is a picture of a coffee table I made recently, that was my first real woodworking project for 30 years, in the gallery - look in workshops (I have no idea how to give you a link to it).

Inspiration came from picking up a book on Arts & Crafts furniture that persuaded me start making things again. Construction is American White Oak, joints are mainly mortice and loose tenons made using my home made horizontal router table (everyone should have one).
 

Pete W

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I can't remember where I saw this (one of the US forums, I think) but...

To determine the correct height for a coffee table, locate the spot on your shins at which a sharp blow will cause the most pain :).
 
A

Anonymous

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Digizz

A tip I would recommend it to look at the home improvement mags in WH Smiths.
One in particular has a monthly round up of 12 sideboards or 10 tables or 15 chests of drawers etc. and costs a measly £2.95. Usually there are sizes too (and prices!) I often buy a copy and rip out all reviews and adverticements for furniture and any pictures of wooden items.
Keep these in a box or folder and refer when designing.

My tip-of-the-week :wink:
 
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