Crappy coffee table

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Project by lumberjoe posted 04-12-2012 08:30 PM 4338 views 2 times favorited 44 comments Add to Favorites Watch

No need to be nice, this came out like crap. I want your honest comments as this is a learning experience. Once I finish the next table, this will be ripped down and made into jigs or re-purposed some how, so let the insults fly! I’m disappointed because I had high hopes, but ran into a lot of challenges. This was more of a trail and error exercise than one to make a nice piece of furniture. I am not that disappointed because you are looking at 35$ worth of wood. It’s made from #2 common pine and the top is birch ply with pine around the edges.


Not a single piece of wood is straight/flat. I do not have a jointer or planer, so I got it as straight as I could with a hand plane. I had to spend more time figuring out how to hide defects than to make it look how I wanted.

I put the stretcher way too high. That is actually the only thing I like about the whole design, and you can’t even see it

Extra fine jigsaw blades wander a LOT. All the curves were cut with a jigsaw. I have since acquired a 14” band saw.

I actually like the little details on the ends of the table visible in the second picture. That was to hide a “mistake”. The table is 24” x 48”. The pine around the plywood is glued – BUT – My longest clamps are 39”s. Therefore I drilled some counterbored holes and screwed them in. the little pegs were shaped with a belt sander and attached to the end of a dowel.

You really need to use a stain controller with pine (as you can see, I did not)

I sanded through the veneer on the plywood in a few spots.

The good:

It’s flat
It’s square
It’s strudy
My wife actually loves it

I am going to make a slightly similar deign out of cherry now that I have made a lot of mistakes and figured out what I should do. I also have a lot better tools that should help me out greatly.


44 comments so far

View Enoelf's profile


192 posts in 2829 days

#1 posted 04-12-2012 08:49 PM

I read a lot of comments here on LJocks and don’t think I have seen anyone let the insults fly. Individually we tend to be much harder on ourselves than others are. Sure, you had a few problems, but you know what? It’s yours! You made that with your brain and your hands! Those things you see as defects just add to the character of a piece of furniture that YOU made! How can that be a bad thing?
Lessons learned are lessons earned lumberjoe! Keep at it!
Thanks for sharing.
Well done!

-- Central Ohio, Still got 9 and 15/16 fingers!

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 2907 days

#2 posted 04-12-2012 08:52 PM

And the most important thing, it looks like you learned a lot in the process of building this.

Whenever I start to get overly critical with a project (which is with EVERY project), I just remember what my Mom told me this past Christmas when I gave her a spice rack that I built for her and my Dad…”Gabe, it’s perfect. Quit complaining.”

Looks good to me, man. Thanks for posting.

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View matt12874's profile


20 posts in 2849 days

#3 posted 04-12-2012 08:55 PM

I don’t think it looks that bad! Looks like you hid any errors very well.
We all make mistakes, I know that I do! the important part is that you learn from them!

-- Matt

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

30478 posts in 2904 days

#4 posted 04-12-2012 09:04 PM

We only quit learning when we die. I doubt I have done a project I have been truly 100% happy with. Prototype are meant to be learning experiences. Looks good to me. When I am perfect I can be critical of others work. I’m not there yet.

-- Nature created it, I just assemble it.

View BTimmons's profile


2303 posts in 3051 days

#5 posted 04-12-2012 09:16 PM

In a case like this, I’ll take a happy wife over my own pride. You’re on her good side man, don’t jinx it! Just quit while you’re ahead, declare this your own victory and move on to the next project.

-- Brian Timmons -

View crank49's profile


4032 posts in 3537 days

#6 posted 04-12-2012 09:22 PM

My first coffee table was pine.
It was stained so dark it hid the bloches; heck, you couldn’t even see that it was pine.

When you join dissimilar wood, like the center vs the edges of the top, a routed cove along the joint, about 1/8” wide and filled with very dark or even black finish is a good trick. Carefull to keep it in the solid wood so it won’t mess up the veneer on the plywood.

I have a good friend who is a song writer. The lyrics to one of his songs often comes to mind when I judge my on work. “What’s in the well will come up in the bucket.” Meaning, if you stick with it you will realize your potential.

View Chefdavid's profile


255 posts in 3421 days

#7 posted 04-12-2012 10:07 PM

Looks good to me… I am the same way, I am always harder on myself than others would be. Learn from your mistakes and build another one!!

-- Become a fan on Facebook...

View jacob34's profile


465 posts in 2830 days

#8 posted 04-12-2012 11:02 PM

As a beginner with fewer than ten project under my belt I see a lot of time and effort in that project. It looks good and our wife’s are most of the time the most encouraging and honest opinion you will get. I am making my wife a step stool she requested that looks like a turtle (or supposed to) and she told me last night it looks like a dinosaur we will see. It is a nice coffee table and you should be proud, flat, sturdy and square heck I would open a cold one just off that if it is 35$ of wood to boot with the wife happy can you say Christmas at Joe’s house.

-- so a bear and a rabbit are sitting on a log

View Woodbridge's profile


3692 posts in 2984 days

#9 posted 04-12-2012 11:48 PM

The table looks good from my perspective. One of my first projects shortly after i got married and moved into our home was a coffee table (a mishmass of pine, a bit of oak veneer plywood, etc.) Every project gets a little bit better, but no matter how many you build we (as the builder) know exactly where every mistake is (and I know where the goof-ups are on my recently posted projects). Those who look at our work don’t see the the little glitches. As for my first “crappy coffee table”, built about 31 years ago, it is still in our family room.

-- Peter, Woodbridge, Ontario

View geoscann's profile


258 posts in 2846 days

#10 posted 04-13-2012 01:03 AM

I think your table looks very good. If you ever get the chance to visit the shaker village in va. pay close attention their not perfect square or the radius on the corners. their hand built with character. some of the joinery has gaps thats not bad its good because you made it. dont be so hard on your self just remember so when your next project you try to improve your skills.

-- BIG geo ---Occam,s razor The simplist answer is often correct

View gfadvm's profile


14940 posts in 3256 days

#11 posted 04-13-2012 01:17 AM

I don’t see crap at all. You are being WAY too hard on yourself. It is nearly impossible to use pine and plywood and have it look like “fine furniture”. I certainly wouldn’t tear it up for jigs for 2 reasons: your wife likes it and you will want to be able to look back on this some day and say: that’s where I started.

-- " I'll try to be nicer, if you'll try to be smarter" gfadvm

View pastorglen's profile


267 posts in 3256 days

#12 posted 04-13-2012 01:37 AM

I’m not sure who said it, but I’d take a happy wife any day. Learn from your project, but I wouldn’t get in too big of a hurry to scrap this out. It works. You’ll learn a lot about future design changes by using it in your own house.

Great project! Keep up the good work.

-- Glen, Pennsylvania, Colossians 3:23 "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men."

View Manitario's profile


2790 posts in 3449 days

#13 posted 04-13-2012 01:42 AM

I know the feeling of working hard on a project and having it not turn out as you imagined. As a beginner in ww, most of my projects involve something new, something I haven’t tried before, and I usually mess it up. Most of the time I learn from my mistakes…and learn how to hide them. For you, it looks like you learnt that jigsaws are not easy to use for cutting curves, and hand planes and #$%(@ difficult to use!

-- Sometimes the creative process requires foul language. -- Charles Neil

View vakman's profile


301 posts in 2969 days

#14 posted 04-13-2012 01:58 AM

Even if you don’t like the table, it beats the alternative, and Ikea Kroffee Schmable :) And it looks sturdy. If it doesn’t last a lifetime, the knowledge that you gained from building it will.

-- - Power is not revealed by striking hard or often, but by striking true. -

View Andrew Duprey's profile

Andrew Duprey

10 posts in 2871 days

#15 posted 04-13-2012 02:06 AM

Isn’t it ironic how nearly EVERYBODY who has posted so far has shared similar experiences? Too often I set the bar way higher than my skills have progressed and wonder why it didn’t come out like I had hoped…the destination is worth the journey (even with our ego acting as a TSA agent).

The comment regarding your wife being happy with it…roll with it my friend!

-- ~Drew~

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