Coffee Table Concept

In an effort to get back in to the swing of regularly updating this blog, I’d like to share with you a design idea that I came up with over Christmas. I may not have been active in the workshop but, I did keep my pencil and sketchbook busy, in order to try and scratch at that woodworking ‘itch’. Without further ado, here is my coffee table concept:

I do have my own coffee table at home, which I use nearly all the time… Alright, it’s not ‘mine’ and I am borrowing it while I stay here! It serves its purpose as an occasional foot rest (!) away from the sofa but, most of all, it’s somewhere for me to dump my woodworking magazines, sketchbook and other reading material.

…Isn’t that what coffee tables are for?!

This, of course, makes my home look very untidy and, perhaps even, unattractive to any visiting guests or even, members of my family. There is a shelf down below but, as this is basically a chipboard construction with a (paper) wood-effect lamination on top, it won’t withhold much weight and sags heavily without any supporting rails. So, I wanted to design more than just your average coffee table… One with storage in mind!

You may well have seen other tables when the top either hinges up (like a lid) or, perhaps one or two designs where it raises up to level that becomes comfortable for eating at and dining from. Both of these are effective at concealing goods within the structure but, I came up with an idea for a top which slides away, in part, to reveal the storage space:

Sorry, I know I haven’t drawn the ‘base’ in beneath the top but, I’m sure you get the idea.

Currently, the top is a kind of ‘frame and panel’ construction with two leaves (grain running across the width of the table) that slide out at each end. There’s also a definite ‘octagonal’ theme here (maybe semi-octagonal? I do like my shapes!). I’ve tried to carry it on through the table but, I’m not sure whether I’ll keep the idea of adding those corner pieces between the legs and underside of the rails…

It’s most likely that some from of sliding ‘tongue and groove’ joint would be used on the top, perhaps with small chamfers (as illustrated on this end) to disguise the any gaps between the joints (due to shrinkage and movement, etc.

I will say again that this ‘concept’ as still in its very early stages. Some of the proportions may need to be reconsidered but, I’m then concerned about reducing the storage height inside by too much. I want to avoid adding a lower shelf as I feel it would defeat the object utilising the storage space inside.

Timber? Right now, I can’t even afford to make one out of pine! Realistically though, I’d be looking at a fairly moderately-priced hardwood, with a preference (as always) for something grown and sourced locally within the UK. Beech, scyamore and possibly ash are my current three contenders.

There’s also the base inside the top that needs considering. It wouldn’t need to be as thick as some of the main components (19mm – ¾in) so, if I wanted to keep the boards truly ‘solid’, I’d be looking to resaw a thicker section of timber; maybe as much as 1½in sawn, with a view to a 12mm finish? Or, I could cut my own veneers (more time spent resawing) and laminate them to an MDF substrate. It would be cheaper than buying a full 8x4ft sheet pre-veneered (unless I could use the rest in another project) but then, plywood is far greater at withstanding loads and resisting deflection than MDF.

All thoughts and comments are welcome at this stage.

Thanks for reading,


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