Outdoor Coffee Table

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coffee table graphic

Here’s my first stab at posting a wood working plan! This is a coffee table I built for my back deck. It goes with a sofa and sectional plan I will post shortly. I also made it to go with two chairs I made based on these plans by Ana White.

This table is made just from 2x4s I picked up at Home Depot! I found them for less than $5 each. I just made sure to check for straightness and to avoid boards that had large sections of imperfections.

This is a pretty easy weekend project, and for less than $50 for all supplies, it’s a pretty good deal!

The plans I used are below. You can also download them here (in PDF): Outdoor Coffee Table Plans.

Disclaimer: I’m not a professional woodworker. The piece seems sturdy and I’m sure there’s a better way to do it than the way I did it, but I think it turned out pretty well!

Dimensions: 1′ 6″ H x 3′ D x 3′ W

Tools & Materials

  • 2 1/2″ self-tapping decking screws
  • Pocket hole jig (optional, if you want to hide screws)
  • L-Brackets (optional, if you want to hide screws)
  • Miter saw or circular saw
  • Drill

All lumber dimensions are the nominal sizes (not actual dimensions). I’m describing them as 2x4x[length] – for example, 2x4x8 means a 2×4 board that is 8′ long. 2x4x6 means a 2×4 that is 6′ long.

Measurements are all actual measurements.

Lumber Requirements

Lumber Qty Est Cost Each Total Est Cost
2x4x8 (96″) 6 $5 $30
2x4x6 (52″) 1 $4 $4

Cut List

Letter Description Qty Length Material
A Table top frame stiles 3 2′ 5″ (29″) 2×4
B Table top frame rails 2 2′ 9″ (33″) 2×4
C Table leg 4 1′ 4 1/2″ (16.5″) 2×4
D Apron 2 2′ 9″ (33″) 2×4
E Breadboard (table top ends) 2 3′ (36″) 2×4
F Table top decking planks 8 2′ 5″ (29″) 2×4

Cutting Instructions

Board # Dimension Cuts to Make Comments
1 2x4x8
  • 2 – 29″ (A)
  • 1 – 29″ (F)
2 2x4x8
  • 2 – 33″ (B)
  • 1 – 29″ (F)
There is only 1″ remainder here – cut carefully!
3 2x4x8
  • 3 – 16.5″ (C)
  • 2 – 29″ (F)
4 2x4x8
  • 2 – 33″ (D)
  • 1 – 29″ (F)
There is only 1″ remainder here – cut carefully!
5 2x4x8
  • 2 – 36″ (E)
  • 1 – 16.5″ (C)
6 2x4x8 3 – 29″ (F)
7 2x4x6 1 – 29″ (F) You will have leftovers.

Note: In board 7, if you want the spacing of the planks in your table top to be narrower than called for, you can cut an extra 29″ plan from this left over piece.

Recommendations

  • Pre-finish boards with outdoor decking stain. I used Flood CWF-UV Penetrating Finish in Cedar. I used it on all the patio furniture pieces I made, and they all go together! Pre-finishing the boards saves you a headache later when you’re trying to get the applicator in between the planks. I applied it with a broad foam applicator. A thin coat took only 20 minutes to dry to the touch and I was able to assemble the pieces without waiting too long. Plus, it cleans up with soap and water. You can also wipe drips right off the wood!
  • Drill pilot holes for all your screws. This will help prevent the wood from splitting. I spaced all my screws at least 3/4″ in from the edges of each board.
  • I used clamps to hold boards together and flush while I was drilling.
  • If you’re not sure how to do pocket screws, don’t be afraid! I bought a Kreg Mini Jig off of Amazon and watched a couple YouTubes. It’s easier than it looks!

Short Steps:

  1. Assemble the table top frame
  2. Assemble the table legs
  3. Attach the frame to the legs
  4. Assemble the table top
  5. Attach table top to frame
Step 1: Create table top frame

Letter Desc Qty Length Material
A Table top frame stiles 3 2′ 9″ 2×4
B Table top frame rails 2 2′ 5″ 2×4
  1. Attach stiles (A) to rails (B). You can either drill through the face of B into end of A or you can use pocket holes in the A boards to attach them invisibly (from the outside) to B.
  2. Note that the A boards on the ends are set horizontally, flush with the tops of the B boards. The middle A board is set vertically. It is set 10 1/4″ from the edges of each A on either side.
  3. Check for square as you go.
Fig. 1: Create table top frame

Outdoor Coffee Table_02

Step 2: Assemble the table legs (2)

Letter Desc Qty Length Material
C Table leg 4 1′ 4 1/2″ (16.5″) 2×4
D Apron 2 2′ 9″ 2×4
  1. Attach legs C to apron D. D sits vertically between the legs, with one face flush with both leg sides, and the top flush with the tops of the legs.
  2. You can use screws through the faces of the C boards or attach D to C using pocket screws.
Fig. 2: Assemble table legs (create 2)

Outdoor Coffee Table_03

Step 3: Attach the table top frame to the table legs

  1. Attach table top frame to legs. The long side of the table top frame (A) will be attached to the apron D.
    1. Make sure to attach the frame with the horizontal A boards on the top side of the frame. These are the boards you will screw into the table top.
    2. You can either screw through D into A from the outside, or use L brackets on the inside so that you don’t have visible screws on the outside.
    3. You can also add pocket screws from table top rail B into the legs, for added stability. If you do not do this, recommend you screw through the table top into the legs or use L-brackets as they will not be secure enough without additional support.
    4. The table top rail (B) will be flush with the front faces of the legs. The top of the frame will be flush with the tops of the aprons (D).
  2. Check for square throughout.
Fig. 3: Attach table top frame to legs

Outdoor Coffee Table_04

Outdoor Coffee Table_04a

Step 4: Assemble the table top

Letter Desc Qty Length Material
E Breadboard (table top ends) 2 3′ 2×4
F Table top deck plank 8 2′ 5″ 2×4
  1. Attach breadboards E to two table top deck planks (F), using pocket screws on the undersides of the planks (Fig. 4). Drill the pockets in the F boards, towards the breadboards. Use two screws in each F board. Check for square throughout.
  2. Add the remaining table top deck planks (Fig. 4a). Spacing between boards will be approximately 1 1/8″, with one space being 1 1/4″. This should not be too noticeable.
  3. You may want to measure and cut the decking boards to fit. Continually check for square.
  4. If you want the spacing to be narrower than described here, you can cut an extra F piece from your leftover lumber, and just space the planks equally.
Fig. 4: Attach two decking planks (F) to the two breadboards (E)

Outdoor Coffee Table_08

Fig. 4a: Attach remaining decking planks

Outdoor Coffee Table_09

Step 5: Attach table top to table frame

  1. Place the table top face down on a flat surface, and place the table top frame and legs assembly on top.
    1. On the table top, decking planks F should be flush with table top frame rail B, and ends of breadboards E should be lined up with legs at each end.
    2. F planks should run perpendicular to frame stiles A.
  2. From the underside of the table, screw through the horizontal A boards directly into the undersides of the F planks. Place 2 screws into each F plank on each horizontal A board.
  3. You can add L brackets to the joint between E and D (Fig. 5a) for added security, though it is probably not necessary.
  4. If you did not add L-brackets to the joint between the leg and the frame rail (B), you will want to screw down through E into each table leg. The table legs will fold without additional security.
Fig. 5: Attach frame to underside of table top

Outdoor Coffee Table_14

Fig. 5a: You can use L brackets for added security

Outdoor Coffee Table_11

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