How to Build a Coffee Table Ottoman Out of an Ammunition Crate

by ChickFix
2 Materials
2 Hours

Have you ever come across a unique find while out junking and have to buy it without even knowing what it is? I discovered a store that had a ton of old ammunition crates and even though I didn’t know exactly what, I knew that I could make something amazing with them. I bought a few and decided to figure out how to build a coffee table ottoman. The resulting ammo crate table will be the perfect addition to any man-cave, fun space, or casual den seating area!

How to build a coffee table

You will need: 

  • Hand sander
  • Circular saw
  • Drill
  • Upcycled ammunition crate
  • TSP
  • Polyurethane and stain
  • 220 Grit sandpaper
  • Brass cleaner/ tarnish remover
  • Furniture cushion pads (small size for table legs)
Remove Hardware

Step 1: Remove Hardware

The hardware on the crate was badly worn and it was very difficult to remove with a screwdriver. I used a dremel tool to cut wider slices in the screws and this finally enabled me to get them out! Your crate hardware may be easier to remove than mine was but if not, the dremel is a great trick to make removal easier. Set aside hardware for later.

Thoroughly clean the crate

Step 2: Thoroughly Clean the Crate Inside and Outside

The crates were extremely dirty when I bought them and I wanted to be sure it was safe to use inside the house so I cleaned the layers of dirt and grime with TSP and then rinsed with the hose. Make sure to wear protective gloves and dispose of the cleaning chemicals properly!

Thoroughly clean the crate
Dry the crate

Step 3: Dry the crate

I placed the crate in the sun to completely dry the wood after it had been thoroughly rinsed with the hose to remove any remaining dirt or chemicals. Give the crate plenty of time to completely dry before moving on to the next step.

Sand all surfaces

Step 4: Sand 

I used a hand sander to sand all of the surfaces but did not try to remove any of the wording on the crate. Be sure to wear a protective mask when sanding your crate. Decide whether or not to leave existing writing and markings that are on the outside of the crate before sanding them off.

Build legs

Step 5: Build Legs

I wanted my table to be a comfortable height for a table and an ottoman and measured the seat height of my couch. Based on that measurement and the height of my crate, I calculated how tall to cut the wood for my table legs and made the cuts using a circular saw.

Build the legs
Sand & attach legs with glue

Step 6: Sand Legs & Attach them with glue

After cutting them, I gave the legs a quick sanding to try to give them a bit of a distressed look so that they weren’t such a drastic contrast to the worn wood of the crate and seem out of place. I carefully gave them a few passes with my hand sander. I used liquid nails to attach the legs to the bottom of the crate to hold them in place and let the glue dry before attaching them more securely.

Screw the legs to the crate

Step 7: Screw the Legs to the Crate

Once the glue was dry, I drilled holes and then screws into the table legs through the inside of the crate into the center point of the base of the leg where it meets the crate.

Stain the crate

Step 8: Stain the Crate

I applied a classic looking golden oak shade of a polyurethane and stain mix with a brush. It is a good idea to wear gloves when applying the stain. Allow the stain to dry completely.

Lightly san

Step 9: Lightly Sand

When the stain was dry, my crate surface was still fairly rough to the touch so I used a 220 grit sandpaper to remove any remaining roughness and make the surface as smooth as I could get it.

Clean & Reinstall hardware

Step 10: Clean & Reinstall hardware

The crate hardware was in rough condition and badly tarnished but I was determined to use the original hardware because it adds to the charm of the upcycled table! I decided to try to clean and shine it with a bit of Brasso. I applied the Brasso to the hinges and the screws and and it both cleaned and brought more shine to them. I reinstalled the cleaned hinges and screws. Although the screws were quite a challenge to remove, they were easy to reinstall using only a screwdriver.

Apply furniture pads

Step 11: Apply Furniture Pads to Table Legs

I added furniture cushion pads to the bottom of the four table legs. I used a peel and stick furniture cushion pad and trimmed them slightly for the perfect fit. This step is not necessary if you plan to use your table in a room with carpeting but I wanted to protect our wood floor.

Display & Accessorize

Step 12: Display and Accessorize the Coffee Table Ottoman

I accessorized the table with a small pillow for comfortable use as an ottoman and a favorite cocktail and glass on the other side to be sure to make good use of the table function!

My combination coffee table ottoman is not only the focal point but a charming conversation piece in the room and everyone wants to know where I found such a unique treasure! This project was a simple way to create a unique piece of furniture upcycled from a surplus store find and could easily be a nightstand, or even part of a bookcase.

Have you upcycled an ammunition crate or another unique find into a coffee table ottoman? Share your finds and DIY projects and find inspiration for amazing upcycles like this one on Hometalk!

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2 of 10 comments
  • Cassie Cassie on May 14, 2020

    I love this idea its recyling at its best and I love the rustic look. You did a great job turning it into a stylish coffee table.


  • Jan Mynatt Casady Jan Mynatt Casady on Feb 06, 2022

    We used our ammo crate similarly but gave it a bit longer legs. It is now a sofa table that has hats, gloves and scarves handy for our lovely winter days in Northern Maine. Your coffee table looks fantastic! I may need to whittle down the legs for a coffee table.