- Ideas & How-Tos
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Simple cut-and-screw construction techniques start this project; different finishes and accent hardware finish it with a wow factor. Built from MDF, the painted table can add color and style to any room.
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To make assembly of the Coffee Table a breeze, we’ve provided two animations that will help you visualize the steps. Watch the videos for some easy to follow assembly instructions.
Cut the medium-density fiberboard (MDF) down to manageable pieces. Ask a Lowe's associate to make the lengthwise cuts, and then have the resulting pieces crosscut to break down the sheet (Project Diagram & Cutting List) before you take it home. These smaller pieces are easier to handle on your table saw -- with a helper -- or on sawhorses with a circular saw and a straightedge. Cut the smaller pieces down to the finished sizes (Project Diagram, Cutting List). Sand each panel with 150-grit sandpaper, and then mark the part letter on each piece with a pencil.
Retrieve the top/bottom (A) and two ends/divider (B). Working on a flat surface, assemble the parts on a side and glue and clamp the ends to the bottom (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Keep the outside faces of the ends and the edges of the bottom flush. Drill countersunk pilot holes through the bottom into the ends of the parts and secure with screws.
To keep parts aligned at 90 degrees during the assembly, clamp a framing square to the parts as you proceed (Photo 1). A square assembly will make the project easier to complete.
From a 3/4-in x 3-1/2-in poplar board, cut the stretcher (C) and braces (E) to length. Sand the pieces with 180-grit sandpaper; be sure to soften the sharp edges of the parts with sandpaper as well. Glue and clamp the stretcher to the divider (B), centered and with the top edges flush. Drill countersunk pilot holes for the screws and secure the parts.
To make screws "disappear" on a painted project, make room for some wood filler over the screw heads. Drill the countersinks deep enough so the screws rest 1/16-in below the surface of the material.
Clamp the divider/stretcher to the bottom and end. The stretcher positions the divider between the ends (Photo 2). Apply glue to the mating surfaces of the parts, drill countersunk pilot holes through the end into the stretcher, and drive the screws.
Turn the assembly onto one side, clamp the divider to the bottom, drill countersunk pilot holes, and secure the divider to the bottom.
Turn the assembly upright and glue the top (A) to the top edges of the ends/divider (B) and stretcher (C), making sure all the edges are flush. Clamp the top in place and drill countersunk pilot holes through the top and into the ends, divider, and stretcher; drive the screws.
Retrieve the leg panels (D), braces (E) and sliding top (F). Glue and screw the braces to the leg panels, keeping the top and bottom edges flush (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).
Position the sliding top on the leg panel/brace assemblies (D/E). Keeping the ends of the sliding top and outside faces of the leg panels flush, drill countersunk pilot holes through the sliding top into the brace assemblies (Photo 3) and drive the screws.
From a 1/4-in-thick acrylic sheet, cut the floating top (G) to size and mark the location of the mounting holes using a fine-tip marker (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Drawing 2).
When working with acrylic and polycarbonate panels, leave the protective cover sheets in place to prevent scratching. For the best cuts, use a sharp, fine-tooth, carbide-tipped blade. To remove the blade marks from the edges, use a firm sanding block and 100-grit sandpaper. Then sand with 150-, 220-, and 320-grit sandpaper. Ease the edges with your sanding block and 220-grit sandpaper.
Clamp the floating top to the sliding top (F). Attach a masking tape flap to the 1/8-in drill bit to mark the drilling depth of 3/4-in; drill pilot holes through the floating top into the sliding top (Photo 4). This will ensure the holes are perfectly aligned in both parts.
Unclamp the floating top, place it on a scrap of wood, and enlarge the holes with a 3/16-in drill bit (Photo 5).
Place 1/2-in x 3/8-in x 1-in steel spacers at each pilot hole in the sliding top, remove the cover sheets from the acrylic, and rest it on the spacers, aligning the holes. Place #8 finish washers on top of the acrylic at each hole and drive the #8 x 2-in flathead wood screws (Photo 6). To avoid cracking the acrylic, the screws should be snug, not tight.
Remove the floating top and fill all the screw countersinks with wood filler. When the filler dries, sand it flush with the surrounding surfaces.
Wood filler and the cut edges of the MDF absorb more finish than the faces. Before priming, seal all of the exposed MDF edges and filled screw holes by brushing on glue sizing with a foam brush. Sizing is a mixture of equal parts wood glue and water. When dry -- in about 20 minutes -- sand the sizing smooth. Now when you apply primer and paint, all the surfaces will absorb the paint at the same rate.
Examine all the exposed MDF edges and sand flush with the adjacent surfaces. Ease all sharp corners with a sanding block and 150-grit sandpaper. Brush on the primer. With the primer dry, lightly smooth any rough areas with 220-grit sandpaper. Apply two coats of paint. For the base table, we chose Valspar Signature Du Jour #7002-6. For the sliding table, we chose Valspar Signature Aqua Ocean, #5005-10A.
Retrieve the floating top (G). Aligning the screw holes, attach it to the sliding top (F) with screws, finish washers, and steel spacers. Now install the nail-on glides on the bottom edges of the sliding table (Project Diagram, Drawing 2). Set the sliding table over the base table. Configure the tables as desired.
The end table is made using the same steps as the coffee table. Drill countersunk pilot holes for each screw and attach the back (H) to the two sides (I). Then secure the top/bottom (J) (Project Diagram, Drawing 3). Complete by adding the floating top.
Remove the floating top; apply wood filler, glue sizing, primer, and paint. Then reinstall the acrylic panel and hardware. Your coffee table and end table are now ready for years of entertaining.