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Deck or Patio Coffee Table

A cedar table with a faux-reclaimed finish will be the center of attention on your patio. Raise a top plank for easy access to a 5-gallon drink bucket inside.

Distressed-finish patio coffee table.

Project Overview

Skill Level


Estimated Time

1 weekend

Estimated Cost


Tools & Materials


  • Miter saw or miter box and handsaw
  • Hammer or pneumatic brad nailer
  • Cordless drill with drill bits and driver bit
  • Self-centering hinge bit
  • Clamps


  • See Project Diagram for materials required
  • 4d galvanized finish nails or 2-in brad nails
  • Construction adhesive
  • 1-1/4-in deck screws
  • 2-in utility hinges, #315666
  • Olympic Elite solid exterior stain, quarts: Dark Ash, Wenge, Cape Sand, Steely Sea, and Waterhouse

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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Build the Box

Step 1

From 1 x 6 cedar boards that are rough-sawn on one face and smooth on the other, cut the long rails (A), short rails (B), and leg halves (C) to length (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).

Step 2

Nail coffee table.

Position and clamp the short rails (B) between the long rails (A) with the rough faces on the outside and nail them together (Project Diagram, Drawing 1). Repeat to make two additional table base frames.

Step 3

Clamp the leg halves (C) together in L-shaped pairs with the smooth faces on the outside of the leg. Drive nails to make four legs (Project Diagram, Drawing 2).

Step 4

Glue the legs of the coffee table.

Position the three frames (A/B) edge-to-edge on their sides on your workbench, alternating the way the ends of the boards overlap at the corners. Apply construction adhesive to the inside of the table frame, align the top ends of the legs with the top edges of the upper frame, and clamp the legs in place. The legs protrude about 1 inch beyond the bottom frame. Drill countersunk holes and drive 1-1/4-inch deck screws (Project Diagram, Drawing 3).

Make the Lid

Step 1

Cut the slats (D), center slat (E), and short trim (F) to length. Cut the long trim (G) about 3-inches longer than listed (Project Diagram, Cutting List and Cutting Diagram).

Good to Know

The center slat is 1/8 inch shorter than the other slats and there are 1/16-inch gaps on each side of the center slat in the assembled table, making the slat easy to remove to retrieve a cold drink.

Step 2

With the smooth sides facing out, nail one short trim (F) to each outside slat (D) with the top edge of the trim and top face of the slat flush (Project Diagram, Drawing 4).

Step 3

Space the boards of the coffee table.

To assemble the lid (Project Diagram, Drawing 4), lay two 32-inch-long scrap-wood strips on your workbench. Position the two slat/short trim (D/F) pair upside down and the remainder of the slats in position with the smooth sides down. To achieve the 1/16-inch gaps on each edge of the center slat (E), press 4d finish nails against the edges of the center slat as spacers and tap them just into the scrap-wood strips.

Step 4

Apply the trim to the coffee table

Hold the long trim (G) against the ends of the slats with one end flush with the outside face of one short trim (F). Mark the length of the long trim at the face of the second short trim. Cut the long trim to final length.

Step 5

Drive nails through the long trim (G) and into the short trim (F) and slats (D). Do not nail the center slat (E) in place (Project Diagram, Drawing 4). Pull the spacer nails out of the scrap-wood strips, lift the lid off the strips, and remove the center slat. Set the center slat aside.

Step 6

Attach a lid to the coffee table

Lay the lid upside down on your workbench and center the box on it. Screw a pair of hinges to a slat (D) and the side of the box (Project diagram, Drawing 5).

Finishing Up

Step 1

Remove the hinges and lightly sand the cedar boards. Apply an exterior stain/sealer of your choice. We alternated several colors of Olympic stain in a random pattern: Dark Ash, Wenge, Cape Sand, Steely Sea, and Waterhouse.

Step 2

Turn this wooden outdoor table into a cold drink center by removing a center plank from the top. --Lowe’s Creative Ideas

Once the stain has dried, sand the outside surfaces of the boards to remove some of the stain to create a reclaimed lumber appearance.