Oak Coffee Table

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Project by Rex B posted 07-09-2012 06:19 PM 2032 views 3 times favorited 8 comments Add to Favorites Watch

I have just completed what is definitely my favorite project to date: a simple coffee table of red oak. The whole construction phase was very enjoyable and only took about a week (though finishing took much longer). I am very proud of how well all the little details turned out in this piece; I can tell my skills are improving.

I got the basic plan from popular woodworking magazine, but I made adjustments of my own. The boards that make up the top and shelf are actually plywood. I was afraid to use solid wood because seasonal wood movement could bust this thing apart at the seams due to its design. But I also didn’t want it to look like plywood, so I cut it into strips and shuffled them around. You can find my previous thread on this topic here. The top and shelf are assembled with battens underneath instead of edge gluing. The legs are screwed into the top and shelf, and I plugged the screw holes with plugs I made with a plug-cutter on the drill press. These turned out awesome – much better looking than cheap store-bought plugs. The aprons are attached with glue and pocket screws.

We wanted a stain with a slightly reddish tone, so I used “Candlelight” by General Finishes. This is a really nice stain to work with. The topcoat is 4 coats of wiped on polyurethane (satin).

To cut the taper at the bottom of the legs, I came up with a simple but accurate taper jig.

It is a single-time use jig, because it is useless once the rip fence is moved, but it only took about 10 minutes to make and gave me beautiful results.

-- Rex

8 comments so far

View Stephen Fox's profile

Stephen Fox

110 posts in 3598 days

#1 posted 07-09-2012 08:22 PM

Following plans is a great way to build skills. I like pocket screws also. Very strong joints. Nice color also.

-- Stephen NYS

View woodrookieII's profile


273 posts in 2867 days

#2 posted 07-10-2012 02:00 AM

That’s a fine looking table.


View MarkTheFiddler's profile


2068 posts in 2392 days

#3 posted 07-10-2012 03:31 AM

Well done Rex!

-- Thanks for all the lessons!

View workerinwood's profile


2717 posts in 3271 days

#4 posted 07-10-2012 12:45 PM

Looks great, nice work!! It is very rewarding when we can see our skill level increasing.

-- Jack, Albuquerque

View DocSavage45's profile


8725 posts in 3046 days

#5 posted 07-10-2012 02:34 PM

Looks like you are evolving. Plywood into strips, a faux real finish. Clever! Looks like you might beready for some dimensional stuff? Firor pine at the box store, and chisels? I used the tounge and grove that didn’t go on the shop floor (water problems) and built my shop bench. Finish turned out preety nice. Ply’s are thicker than oak plywood, but still too frail? General Finishes….great choice.

-- Cau Haus Designs, Thomas J. Tieffenbacher

View dartmania2002's profile


2 posts in 2347 days

#6 posted 07-13-2012 03:10 PM

I really like this idea! I’m thinking I might do something similar, but am wondering what the top looks like up close and the durability of all those plywood edges over time. Could you take some up close pictures of the top as I am very interested in this build. Thanks

View Rex B's profile

Rex B

320 posts in 2454 days

#7 posted 07-16-2012 12:38 PM

There are actually no plywood edges exposed. The legs and the trim pieces are solid oak, only the slats that make up the top and shelf are plywood.

-- Rex

View joseph000's profile


346 posts in 2231 days

#8 posted 03-13-2013 10:31 AM

Awesome table.Oak coffee tables offer a more refined yet elegant centerpiece in a living room. It can blend with other furniture and it can make its own noticeable identity as well.

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