$30 Modern Coffee Table

4 Materials
5 Days

Modern furniture looks great because of its clean lines and simple style. But, that simplicity can cost a lot of money. With a few bucks and only a few tools, you can design and build your own modern coffee table to fit your space and your personality. This is an easily adaptable DIY that you can alter to fit your own unique style. I experimented with angles on my build. Here's how:

Start with two 4' 2x12 pieces of framing lumber. I bought them from Menards for $7.50 each. You can save yourself a few dollars by buying an 8' 2x12 if you have the means to haul it.

I cut each 2x12 down to 3' and then ripped an 1/8" off each long side with a table saw. This eliminates the curved edge and gives it a more square, clean feel. If you're not comfortable ripping the edges, you can leave those slightly rounded edges. I've built tables like that too, and it looks fine. I just prefer the flat sides.

Next, I marked a 45-degree angle on one end of each board and cut the angle. I used a sliding compound miter saw, but a circular saw would also work well.

At this point, I used a jig saw to cut 1 1/4" deep slits on each side of the angled end of the boards. You don't need to make any cuts on the flat side. I made two passes with the saw to make the opening about 1/8" wide - wide enough to insert the steel leg.

I also cut a small angle off the inside corner of every slit. The angle is to allow the table leg to slide in all the way, since the inside of the angle iron leg is not perfect square.

Now, sand down both boards on all sides.

Time to work on the legs. I used 1/8" x 1 1/4" x 36" steel angles. They were $7 each at Menards, and I bought two. Decide what height you want your table to be, and cut 4 legs at that length. I went with 15". I used an angle grinder with a cutting wheel to make the cuts. Because I wasn't confident I would make a perfectly square cut, but obviously wanted the table to sit level, I cut each leg from an end of a steel angle so I knew I had 4 perfectly square factory-cut ends for the bottom of each leg.

Sand down each leg with medium grit sandpaper and then wipe clean with a rag and some mineral spirits. Beware, it's a dirty process getting these steel legs ready for painting.

Once the legs are clean, spray them with primer and then paint. I went with gold for this project. At this point, I also painted the heads of the 2 1/2" screws I'll be using for assembly. You need 8 screws, so I painted 10 just in case.

While the spray primer and paint were drying, I also went back to the wood pieces for staining. I used a dark walnut, but just like the legs, go nuts with whatever color you're feeling. One thing I love about building tables in this way - the options are endless. After the stain was dry, I applied two coats of polyurethane. I also did a VERY light sanding after the polyurethane dried to smooth out the finish.

Back to the legs. When the paint was dry, I drilled holes for mounting to the table. In retrospect, I wish I would have drilled the holes before painting so there was no need for an additional touch-up coat.

To mark each hold for drilling, measure up from the same (flat, factory) end. I put holes at 3" and 14 1/2".

I used a 3/16" bit to drill all the way through and then a 3/8" bit to countersink the hole so the screw head will eventually sit flush with the outside of the leg.

Time for the fun part - assembly! I put the bottom shelf on first with special care to make sure the shelf is level both side to side and front to back. I used a small bit to predrill holes before driving in the screws.

There you have it!

For $29, plus some stain and spray paint, you have your own, custom-designed coffee table.

I liked the look of parallel angles on each side, but with some small tweaks, the options for this type of table are endless. I'd love to see what color and cut variations you go with. Follow me on Instagram at   @woodyworking for more simple woodworking DIY projects and shoot me a message or comment to show me your styles. I love to be inspired!

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2 of 31 comments
  • Elizabeth Fernandez Elizabeth Fernandez on Sep 30, 2020

    Very unique style and a great moneysaving project for someone with your skills. It turned out really great.

  • Anita Anita on Oct 01, 2020

    It looks nice but I wouldn’t be safe with the points on it!