Learn how to build this DIY Coffee Table with a beautiful herringbone pattern! This salvaged wood DIY project will become an eye-catching, treasured piece in your home.
We have all heard of an upcycling project that catches our imaginations and sets the wheels in motion. It consumes us until we dive in and make it ours. Well, today we are going to do just that: turn discarded framing lumber into a herringbone coffee table DIY for all occasions.
I grabbed a truckload of framing material that was being discarded after a large concrete job at a local manufacturer. There were plenty of 2x4s and ¾” plywood so I decided that this was the perfect time to build a rustic wood coffee table for a covered outdoor patio. I’ve really loved using a herringbone pattern in my projects (as evidenced by this DIY Ladder Shelf), so I knew I wanted to try that again!
Materials don’t get much cheaper than free! It’s going to take a little time to sort and clean up this load of lumber so let’s get started.
DIY Coffee Table Materials
- 2 very straight 2x4s that are at least 4 feet long.
- 1 piece of 3/4″ plywood 30×48 with good corners and sides
- 2 – 2x4s that are about 36″ long and 8 that are 26″ long for the leg assembly.
- A pile of 2x4s that are about 24″ long to be used in the herringbone pattern.
- 24 threaded inserts
- 2 pieces of flat sheet metal 20×12″
- Table saw, Miter saw and Circular saw
- Wood clamps and or straps
- Waterproof wood glue
- Nails or screws
- Pry bar or hammer
- string and pencil
- wood filler
Let’s get started with the tutorial and get this table built and enjoy the season.
How to make a Herringbone Coffee Table
Step 1 Clean and sort by length and condition
Remove nails and screws, then sort the lumber by size and condition. This will save you a lot of time later on–When you are building the table you will know where to look for the pieces you need. This is going to be hard for anyone who doesn’t work well with piles laying around.
Step 2: Measure and cut the plywood to size
The finished product is going to be 48 x 26 x 17. The plywood is going to be cut 1 1/2″ inches shorter than the finished width and depth. The interlocking frame will get the width and depth back to the desired 48 x 26.
Step 3: Measure and cut the frame to size.
All 2x4s will be recut down to 3″s wide. This will help remove nicks and abrasions that were incurred during the construction job they came from. I use a table saw set to remove a 1/4″ with each pass, this allows for the two edges to look there best. It’s time to measure and cut these boards and frame the plywood. Once the frame is in place your tabletop will be 48 x 26.
Step 4: Interlock the frame and tabletop.
Now is a good time to dry-fit the frame to make sure everything lines up before you are working with all that glue. Once your frame is in place and everything lines up, then run your carpenter’s pencil along the frame and mark the plywood. This will make it much easier to return the pieces to their proper location.
Once you have applied the glue and have the frame installed, use wood clamps or ratchet straps to pull everything into place. Don’t forget to measure the length and width at several points to make sure everything is seated.
Step 5: Make pieces for the Herringbone pattern.
2x4s are a great source for the pieces to populate your herringbone pattern. Whether you are looking for pieces as narrow as 1 1/2″ or as wide as 3 1/2″ wide, your 2×4 pieces fit the bill. I am going to use pieces that are 1 1/2″ wide to populate the pattern on this coffee table.
The pattern will be placed horizontally along the length of the table but it would be just as easy to place the pattern vertically along the length if you would prefer.
The lengths will be up to 18″ within the pattern. If you aren’t familiar with starting a herringbone pattern instructions can be found in this Herringbone pattern step-by-step tutorial.
Step 6: Building the Herringbone.
Building the herringbone begins with a center line and a 45-degree angle on each side of the centerline. The length of the pieces will have to be cut to fit as the pattern approaches the frame.
Step 7: Building the X Legs.
The legs are going to be a pair of Xs connected with a horizontal beam. All of these pieces will be built using 2x4s that have been ripped down to 3″ widths in keeping with the framing boards. They are then glued together after all the pieces have been cut to size, creating dimensional lumber of 3×3.
The legs will be 15″ tall and 20″ wide. I used the following link X-leg measurements, applied my dimensions to the form, and took the results to the miter saw. I used the jig to assemble the legs to ensure that all the pieces come together equally. If you do this, be sure to remove the leg from the jig before the glue dries.
Step 8: Preparation for Staining.
Since this table will be spending all its time outdoors, it is going to need a good protective coat of varnish. The foundation for this protection begins with a well-prepared surface, so the table will be sanded several times, beginning with 60-grit paper and progressing to 220-grit paper. The stain will be applied between uses of the 220-grit paper.
The underside of the table will be sanded with a belt sander to remove the paint that I should have removed before starting the project. An orbital sander will be used for all remaining sanding. Using compressed air, vacuum, and microfiber material remove all the dust from the table and work area before beginning the staining process.
Step 9: Drilling for the attachment of the Legs.
Each leg is going to be attached to a sheet of steel measuring .031″ x 12″ x 20″, and those sheets will then be attached to the table. The purpose is to distribute any type of shock impact across a greater area of the table, allow for the table to be disassembled if needed, and add little weight since the table will be outdoors.
A wider piece of hardwood would work in place of the steel if that’s more easily accessible for you. Before drilling into the tabletop, be sure to measure and mark your drill bit to prevent drilling too deep.
Step 10: Installing the threaded inserts.
Threaded inserts will be used to attach the leg to the steel, the steel to the table top, and the furniture sliders to the legs. Threaded inserts can be installed using a screwdriver, Allen wrench, or a socket fitted on a bolt installed in the insert.
Step 11: Installing the leg brace.
The leg brace is constructed with two 2x4s that have been glued together, trimmed down to 3″ width, and affixed to each leg using a 6″ decorative lag bolt and washer.
Step 12: Varnishing the table
Before you start applying the varnish, quickly and lightly sand the entire table with a fine grit paper to knock loose anything that has settled on the table. After sanding, clean the table and your work area of any sawdust that might be laying around, I begin with compressed air, then use a shop vac, and finally finish with a microfiber towel. This might be overkill, but I am working in a barn with a dirt floor.
Now that the area has been cleaned, you can begin bringing the tools needed to varnish the table. Apply* several thin coats of varnish, allowing each coat to dry as instructed before applying the next coat. Blending each stroke into the wet vanish help to avoid brush strokes and air bubbles. Sand each coat lightly for better bonding between each coat.
*Note: Be sure and read the instruction on the varnish container. Many times the instruction warns against shaking the varnish just before it is applied, but it may recommend shaking it several hours before use to reduce the possibility of air bubbles ending up in the varnish.
More DIY Projects:
- This DIY Shadowbox is a great way to repurpose otherwise items that have outlived their usefulness.
- Learn How to Make a Corbel Table to refresh a corner of your home with a cute, easy new space!
- Consider making a DIY Grow Frame for your indoor plants or as a gift to your favorite plant parent!
- This Pallet Bookshelf for Kids is a simple, convenient project! The bookshelf can sit on a table or be installed on the wall to reduce clutter.
- When you really want to give an area a makeover, consider adding a DIY Brick Kitchen Nook! It can be done in a weekend for a fun, refreshing project!