IKEA Hack Coffee Table

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You may or may not know that when I moved from Wisconsin to California, my dad drove out with me and all my stuff, then flew back. We made it to somewhere in Iowa and broke down. Yup! That happened… Long story short (I didn’t get my car in CA until 33 days later) we ended up transferring everything from my car into a rental truck and going the rest of the way.

All items made the transfer EXCEPT (dun dun dun)….our coffee table!

It was a “beautiful” SOLID old piece my husband found on the curb during his college days. I cannot even tell you how many times that table has been danced on, spilled on, and dinged up. We kept it, though, because it was a genuinely sturdy piece of wood with a ton of character, many stories, and GREAT potential fora refurbishing.

{I’m not even sure how, but through coordination of a few traveling nomads, it ended up back in Wisconsin and is currently being stored in my dad’s shop…going on 3 years now. SOMEDAY!}

Upon arriving in California, we lived without a coffee table (for way too long), then finally broke down and bought a $19.99 piece of black plywood from IKEA. It got the job done, but didn’t ever really “fit”…especially once we bought & moved into our home.

lack-coffee-table-brown__57540_PE163122_S4-2
Last November we kind of decided it would be fun to tackle a team project…the coffee table seemed like a no brainer!

I searched around for a little inspiration, and found these two tables:

I’m very happy with how it turned out! Here is a loose set of directions if you’d like to make your own.

Supplies:
●IKEA table (or any old table)
●tape measurer & pencil
●wood slabs (cuts & amount dependent on design desire; see directions)
●saw horses
●table saw
●distressing tools (hammer, chisel, chain, wire brush, etc)
●sander
●desired color stain (brushes/sponges/rags)
●wood glue
●clamps (at least 4 small & 1 large)
●polyurethane
●patience

1) Making Cuts
First, decide what you want your table to look like. What kid of wood? How far should the edges hang over?

We ended up deciding to go with 4×1 slabs, and chose pine-because I like the character the knots add- with the wood hanging over on each end (approximately 1/5 inches on the ends & 1 inch on the sides). This is completely up to you.

  1. Take a few measurements
  2. Do a little math
  3. Head to the lumber yard & buy what you need
  4. Make cuts yourself, or have them cut right at the lumber yard
  5. Lay slabs out across saw horses as if a table top.

table wood

I then (spent way too much time) flipping, turning, and rearranging the boards to get just the look I wanted. We labeled the bottom to ensure they would stay in that order.

During this extensive flipping, turning, cutting, I decided to add a twist! (pun intended). Instead of both the top and the bottom levels of the table running parallel boards, I decided the bottom level slabs should run perpendicular with the top level. I like the dimension it added!

2) Distressing the Wood

I’ve never done this before! It was great fun. I was definitely way more “meticulous” than necessary – it is probably best to just go at it without thinking about it!

distress tools

We didn’t have a chain, otherwise I would have used that. Instead, I used a hammer, chisel, & wire brush. After seeing the end product, some of my favorite spots are the biggest gouges, which I didn’t know until after it was sitting finished and in my living room. Feel free to youtube a few videos on how to do this!

Here are a few of my favorite marks:

I would recommend sanding all the corners down so they’re somewhat curved, giving an older look.

3) Staining the Wood

Grab a color stain that compliments the rest of your furniture, and start staining! I prefer to use a piece of cotton (rag, old t-shirt, etc) over a brush or a foam brush, but any are okay. Apply generously, wait 24 hours, then do it again! Be sure to go over the ends and underneath; anywhere the wood will be exposed.

stained wood

4) Applying Wood to Table

{We started with the bottom level first to “practice” as any mistakes would be less noticeable}

  1. Clean the old table, sand the surface for maximum adhesive, then clean again.
  2. Line up the boards as desired. Take a few measurements to make sure everything is set, then double check it just one more time.
  3. Remove one end board, apply glue to the top of the table, line up carefully, then place board to desired spot on table.
    glue on table
  4. Apply pressure being careful the board does not shift.
  5. Take the board next to it, apply glue to top of table and SIDE of board (that it will be touching), then press and hold it down.

  6. Continue and complete entire row. Repeat all steps for the 2nd level.

5) Applying Pressure with Clamps

Add clamps to ensure constant pressure is being applied for duration of dry time (see glue bottle).

clamped wood

  1. Lay down a piece of cardboard on top of your table surface to prevent scratching.
  2. Lay a scrap 2×4 perpendicular across the top of the cardboard – we used two, one on either end of the table.
  3. Squeeze clamps on both ends of the 2×4 from top of surface to underneath in order to squeeze boards to table (see photo).
  4. In between these two boards, lay a large clamp (without a 2×4) perpendicular to the table boards. Squeeze clamp from  one side to the other in order to squeeze boards together (See photo).
  5. Let clamps sit for 24 hours

6) Apply Polyurethane 

poly

  1. Using a foam brush, spread a coat of polyurethane over your table to prevent stains from every day use.
  2. Let dry for about 24-48 hours, then apply at least one more coat.

Move your new table inside and enjoy!

Here was our final team product!

final 4final 2final 1final 3

Is it a forever piece? Nah.
…but it was definitely fun to create and will certainly get us through the next few years.

Share your own hack in the comments!

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