Coffee tables

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Project by BalloonGuy posted 512 days ago 970 views 4 times favorited 7 comments Add to Favorites Watch

This is a pair of tables I built last February, as a first project. The style was borrowed a bit from a pair of sofa tables we had, and some of the construction techniques as well. Not being practiced at mortise and tenon joinery, and seeing how the originals had been put together with pocket screws and MDF covered in veneer, I figured if the furniture store could charge money for it, it was good enough for me to try.

The tables each have 12” square slate-look tiles inset. I liked the durability, and didn’t want to worry about coasters. Legs and rails are red oak, and the shelf and top are MDF core with quartersawn red oak veneer.

The second photo shows the uncovered shelf and table frame. The third photo is one of the corner blocks showing the pocket screws. I built a jig to hold the leg, rails and corner block in alignment to keep it all squared up while driving the screws.

Next photo is the table top. Three-quarter inch MDF with a 1/4” recess carved into it for the tile. Next time, I’ll just cut a hole in a 1/4” MDF and laminate it. Too much sawdust doing it this way. Eventually, I put the router aside and just got out the gouges and carved it to depth. It was more fun that way too.

Next photo is the element I really liked. While I could have done the top and shelf out of plywood, I wanted to play with the grain orientation, and to make the top look like a mitered job. The shelf was patterned after those sofa tables, with the veneers set in a diamond pattern. After finishing, the grain really shines and changes as you move around it – like a tiger’s eye gem.

I’m self-taught, and am grateful for all the LJs who share their knowledge and their projects here. I’m also grateful to my grandfather who passed on some of his tools and a little bit of his love of wood to me. He’s been gone 18 years, but he’s with me every day in the shop.

-- Tom Peterson, Omaha, NE

7 comments so far

View Handtooler's profile


1071 posts in 759 days

#1 posted 512 days ago


-- Russell Pitner Hixson, TN 37343

View Ken90712's profile


14878 posts in 1816 days

#2 posted 512 days ago

Great work, Love Kreg pocket jointery system. Use it al the time. Great job on the veneering as well, its a nice touch.

-- Ken, "Everyday above ground is a good day!"

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13741 posts in 965 days

#3 posted 512 days ago

Good work. Nice looking pair.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View Rob Vicelli's profile

Rob Vicelli

96 posts in 1318 days

#4 posted 512 days ago

NIce set of tables. Great Work!

-- Rob V

View woodrookieII's profile


211 posts in 1290 days

#5 posted 512 days ago

Nice job.


View Vicki's profile


935 posts in 1971 days

#6 posted 511 days ago

They are terrific. They are just what I want to make as soon as there’s time. I’d like a middle shelf in the end tables, but otherwise I’m totally “stealing” your tables. Beautiful.

-- Vicki on the Eastern Shore of MD

View BalloonGuy's profile


93 posts in 550 days

#7 posted 511 days ago

Thank you, all. Vicki, I’m hoping to do these again, with a little more mission style this time, now that I have a little more experience and a bandsaw to let me do more than straight cuts. I lost the plans I’d drawn up for the tables in a computer crash last summer. Once I have them re-drawn, and get them posted I’ll let you know.

-- Tom Peterson, Omaha, NE

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