Customize this stylish table with dramatic wood and metal finishes. Then set it up for daily use or special occasions. When you need extra floor space, the table disassembles in seconds.
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For tools, materials, and instructions on finishing the wood top and shelves and the pipe legs, see the separate stories on applying decorative wood finishes and applying aged metal finishes. The parts shown here were left unfinished for photography.
Scrub the leg pipes and fittings with trisodium phosphate (TSP) or a grease-dissolving detergent and let dry.
Arrange the parts for the two leg braces (Pipe-Frame Coffee Table Project Diagram, Brace Assembly) and begin by screwing the caps (1) onto the 8-inch pipes (2). Then screw the pipes onto the tees (3) and crosses (4). Connect each tee to a cross with a “close” -- or fully threaded -- pipe nipple (5), but don’t tighten completely. Lay each of the H-shape assemblies on a flat surface to check that they don’t wobble. Then connect the two H-shape assemblies with a 12-inch pipe (6).
Measure the distance between the two pipes in each H-shape assembly. Turn the end until they’re the same distance apart on both ends. Tighten all the fittings as much as possible without throwing off the distances.
By allowing one or both pairs of pipes on each end to hang over the edge of a table, you can apply more pressure to tighten the assembly. If you need to use both hands to turn the pipes, clamp the rest of the assembly to the table.
Lay out the hole locations on the 1 x 20 x 48 panel (Pipe-Frame Coffee Table Project Diagram, Table Top). Place the top on a piece of scrap wood and drill the two 1-3/8-inch holes.
The finished table will be about 48 inches long and 20 inches deep with a height that varies slightly with the spacing of the pipes. You can shorten it slightly, but that also places the “feet” of the table closer together for less stability.
With a square, draw lines from the end of the board to the edges of the 1-3/8-inch holes. Use a jigsaw with a fine-tooth blade to saw along the lines. Sand the notch edges smooth. Then sand the entire panel and both lower shelves with 120-grit sandpaper.
Putting together the table will go faster with a helper. Begin by sliding the top H-shape assembly as far as possible into the notch on both ends of the table top (Pipe-Frame Coffee Table Project Diagram, Exploded View). The bottom pair of pipes should be about 12 inches closer to the center of the table than the top pair. Note how the upper pipes grip the top.
Place a bottom shelf on each side of the table. Straighten the legs as little as possible to slide the shelves into position. (The wood needs to rest on raised edges of the crosses and tees as well as on the caps.)
Continue leaning the legs and adjusting the position of the top and shelves until the assembly becomes stable. Estimated cost: $187 with finishes.
To use the table on hard-surface floors, attach adhesive-back felt pads to the bottoms of the pipe caps.