How to build a display coffee table

Our Hammer It Out Series: Display your collectables in an acrylic-topped box that doubles as a living area table.

Your grandfather’s tools and hard-won collection will not be found in a cardboard box hidden in your garage. You can showcase them on a coffee table that you built yourself with a recessed top and removable top. You can make a display coffee table from scrap lumber and some stock legs.

The Cut List

The shadowbox coffee table cut lists are based on tables with a table leg that measures 5 inches in length and has a section of 2 1/4-by-2 1/4-inch on the top. This flat portion of the post is used to attach the apron pieces. Its width will impact the dimensions of your tabletop frame. If you use legs of different sizes, adjust the measurements accordingly.

Place a long support strip flush to the bottom of each apron and a short screw-strip flush to each end. These supports will support the plywood display base. These screws create a block to attach the apron pieces and legs. First, secure the strips using a pneumatic nail gun and a 1 1/4-inch nail. Next, use a countersink drill to create pilot holes in each strip. Then, insert a 1 1/4-inch screw through each strip and into an apron.

Wood glue can be applied to the edge of an assembly of apron pieces. Then, position the apron against a leg so everything is flush with the inside and top of the leg, as shown. Pilot holes should be drilled through the screw strip into the leg. Then, secure the leg with a 1 1/4-inch screw. Continue to join each leg and the apron until you reach the perimeter of your base.

Place the base of the table upside down on the ground. Align the inner edges and the edges of your display bottom with the apron so the frame will slide over the floor. As shown, mark the corners with the screw strips.

Use a jigsaw to cut the notches for each corner of your display bottom. Place the bottom in the table’s base, so it rests on each apron. Use 1-inch nails to fix the bottom.

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