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Display Table

Brought to you by Lowe's Creative Ideas

Show off your decorating treasures inside this easy-to-build coffee table you can customize to fit any living room or family room.

White display table in a living room

Project Overview

Skill Level

Advanced

Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost

$$$$$$

Tools and Materials

Tools

  • Table saw
  • Drill, bit set, countersink
  • Sander and discs
  • Sanding block and sandpaper
  • Kreg pocket-hole jig
  • 2"-wide painter's tape
  • Paintbrush, roller, accessories

Materials

  • 3/4" x 48" x 96" oak plywood (#16422)
  • 6 1" x 4" x 8' poplar boards (#1088)
  • 5 1" x 3" x 8' poplar boards (#1083)
  • 1-1/4" coarse-thread pocket screws, 100 (#205317)
  • Titebond Original wood glue, 8 ounces (#86091)
  • Paintable exterior caulk (white)
  • #8 x 2" flathead wood screws
  • .08" x 30" x 36" acrylic sheet (#11233)
  • Valspar interior latex primer, 1 quart (#165217)
  • Valspar Signature interior latex paint, 1 quart, Sunday Times (#ar915)
  • Cabot satin polyurethane, 1 quart (#52282)
  • Cabot oil-based wood stain, half-pint, (#78062) Moonshadow

Items may be Special Order in some stores. Product costs, availability, and item numbers may vary online or by market. Paint colors may vary slightly from those shown. Availability varies by market for lumber species and sizes.

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Instructions

Build the Side Frames

Step 1

From 1" x 4" poplar, cut eight frame stiles (A), two short frame bottom rails (C), and two long frame bottom rails (E) (Cutting List). From 1" x 3" poplar, cut two short frame top rails (B) and two long frame top rails (D).

Good to Know

This project requires careful measurement for tight-fitting joints. When fitting parts between other parts, always measure the actual dimensions and compare them to those on the Cutting List.

Step 2

Using a pocket-hole jig, drill pocket holes at the ends of the rails (C, D) (Project Diagram, Side Frames). Glue and pocket-screw two short frames (A/B/C) and two long frames (A/D/E). Wipe away any glue that squeezes out and let dry. Afterward, sand the frame joints smooth.

Step 3

Dry-assemble the sides using clamps and measure the distance between the bottom rails (C, E) in both directions. Cut the bottom shelf (F) to fit between the bottom rails and drill pocket holes in the underside. Sand the top face with 120-grit and then 180-grit sandpaper and wipe clean. Apply one coat of stain and let dry. (We used Cabot Moonshadow, #78062.) Then apply two coats of clear finish.

Step 4

image

Glue and screw two opposite frame sides to the bottom shelf using the pocket holes. Then clamp and screw the other two frame sides to the shelf and other sides. (Table Frame).

Add The Inside Legs and Upper Shelf

Step 1

Measure from the bottom shelf to the underside of the top rails (B, D) and cut the inside legs (G) to length.

Good to Know

These legs support the upper shelf, so it's important that they be the same length. To achieve that, tape a stop block to your table saw miter fence at the right distance from the blade.

Step 2

image

Test fit the inside legs (G) against the frame stiles (A). When you look at any of the legs, you should see the face of a frame stile and the edge of either an inside leg or another frame stile. That way, after the table is primed and painted, the legs will appear square. Glue and clamp the inside legs to the frame stiles (A) at each corner (Inside Legs) and let dry.

Step 3

Measure between the top rails (B, D) and cut the top shelf (F) to fit the opening. Drill pocket holes where shown (Upper Shelf). Sand the top surface and wipe clean. Then stain the top to match the bottom shelf and let dry. Follow that with two coats of clear finish.

Step 4

Lower the top shelf into position between the top rails until it rests on the inside legs (G). Pocket-screw the shelf to the upper frame rails (B, D).

Build and Add the Top Frame

Step 1

Measure between the top rails and cut the top frame front and back (L) and frame sides (M) to length.

Step 2

Drill pocket holes where shown in the frame sides (M) (Table Top). Then glue and screw the sides to the front and back (L) and let dry.

Step 3

Glue and clamp the top frame to the top rails and stiles. Sand the frame edges smooth with the rails and corners.

Build the Display Tray

Step 1

image

Cut the tray front and back (H), tray long dividers (I), and tray short dividers (J) to length. Cut the tray middle dividers (K) about 1" oversize.

Step 2

image

To simplify making the tray, first build two subassemblies on a flat surface. Glue and screw three short dividers (J) to two tray dividers (I) where shown (Display Tray). Measure between diagonal corners on the ends of the long dividers to check that the assembly is square. Then repeat for the other two long dividers and three short dividers.

Step 3

Glue and screw the two subassemblies to the tray front and back (H) and let dry.

Good to Know

The tray needs to fit within the top frame (L/M) without being forced into place. Check the length of the tray front and back (H) by fitting it inside the table opening. Hold two 3/4"-thick scraps against the end of a long divider (I) to simulate the length of the final tray and check that they fit the frame opening.

Step 4

Measure between the two inside long dividers and cut the two middle dividers (K) to length. Glue and clamp the middle dividers in place to complete the tray.

Good to Know

Study the Display Tray drawings to see how screws are used only on the outside long dividers and one end of each shorter divider. That way, no screw heads will show inside the display tray when you're finished.

Step 5

Apply the same stain used on the plywood shelves and let dry. Then apply a clear finish to the tray assembly (H/I/J/K) and let dry. Lower the tray through the frame until it rests on the top shelf.

Step 6

Trim an acrylic sheet to fit the top frame opening and smooth the edges with 180-grit sandpaper as needed. Using sandpaper and a block, lightly soften the sharp edges and test for a snug fit.

Good to Know

To lift the acrylic out of the frame, wrap a piece of painter's tape around two fingers with the sticky side out. Press the tape against the acrylic at one corner and pull up just enough to reach beneath the sheet and lift it free.

Apply Finish and Assemble the Table

Step 1

Finish-sand the entire table and fill any exposed gaps with paintable caulk. Use 180-grit sandpaper and a block to soften any sharp edges on the legs and frame. Wipe the surfaces clean with a soft cloth.

Step 2

On the bottom shelf, you'll use strips of paint between the inside faces of the legs to create the look of an inset panel. Apply painter's tape so the tape edge closest to you just touches the inside corners of the inside legs (Bottom Shelf Paint). (It's easiest to do two opposite strips at a time and then retape for the remaining two strips.)

Step 3

Apply a coat of primer and let dry. Lightly sand rough spots on the primer and wipe clean. Then apply two coats of paint.

Step 4

Lower the tray onto the top shelf and add your favorite collectables to the compartments. Then lower the acrylic sheet in place.

Good to Know

These legs support the upper shelf, so it's important that they be the same length. To achieve that, tape a stop block to your table saw miter fence at the right distance from the blade.