Mid-Century Inspired Coffee Table

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Project by SJWoodCreations posted 02-24-2018 06:05 PM 1165 views 0 times favorited 3 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Last year some of our good friends got married, and my college roommate and I decided to build them a coffee table. They are really into mid-century modern style furniture, and I’ve always like that style as well, we looked at some pictures for inspiration and sketched out some ideas over some beers one night. Sketches turned into a Solidworks model, and after some adjustments we got started!

This was definitely the most challenging project I’ve ever taken on, but the final result was well worth the effort. I’ll try to include as much of the build details below.

We were planning to buy some lumber from one of the local hardwood suppliers, but we found a guy on CL that had a bunch of mahogany strips left over from a custom baseboard job for CHEAP, and with the approval of the bride-to-be, we decided to go that route instead!

The Top
The most time consuming part was taking all of these rough, random width strips and laminating them together for the top. We pretty much had to do one row at a time, and clamp each piece to a flat surface (I used an old marble countertop), then end to end, and then to the preceding row. We did it in two halves to fit the pieces through my planer, then joined the two halves together with biscuits and cleaned everything up with planes, scrapers, and sandpaper. We traced out a couple of different profiles for the top, then rough cut on the bandsaw, and make a template to route the final shape with a pattern following bit.

The Base
Next was the base. We had to laminate pieces to make stock thick enough for the leg blanks, then cut the mortises with a router and some chisel cleanup, then taper the legs on the bandsaw.

To achieve the compound angles on the base, I cut the each of the ends of the aprons at an angle, then used the same angle to cut the tenons with a dado stack. I also ripped the top of each apron with my blade tilted at the same angle so that the tops of the aprons would sit parallel to the ground. Then, when everything got glued up, I just trimmed the excess at the top of each legs flush with the top of the aprons.

The Shelf
The joinery for the shelf was kind of a bear since it was on the tapered portion of the legs. I decided that instead of trying to figure out some very complex angled mortises, I would just turn tapered tenons on each side of the shelf supports and then clamp everything together and use a hand drill and a forstner bit to estimate the angle. It worked out pretty well! When I dry fit everything before the glue up, one of the holes was a hair off, so I had to trim the middle “structure” of the shelf at a very slight angle to get a good fit. I doubt anyone will ever notice.

After glue up I trimmed the tops of the legs flush to the aprons, and scribed the bottoms to trim them parallel to the ground. I made some clips to fit into slots I had ripped in the aprons to attach the top, and put everything together! The finish is a couple coats of natural danish oil, followed by a several coats of satin wipe-on poly. So far it is holding up! (And as you can see, coasters are REQUIRED)

Leave a comment below if you have any questions or critiques! Thanks for looking!

-- Sam --- Tulsa, OK

3 comments so far

View Richard's profile


11310 posts in 4278 days

#1 posted 02-25-2018 03:15 AM

Very Nice & Well Done Also Sam! Great and Complete Description!

-- Richard (Ontario, CANADA)

View archie18's profile


210 posts in 4736 days

#2 posted 03-08-2018 04:16 PM

Great job

-- Robert in middle TN

View badluck's profile


30 posts in 3841 days

#3 posted 06-04-2019 11:49 PM

It turned out beautiful, I bet your friends are thrilled with the table.
I can’t get used to the term mid century modern, I still think of it as Danish modern.
My age is showing.

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