Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Making a Wood Top for My Coffee Table

Hi, I’m back after a thirteen-month hiatus and I am just going to jump right into things. I moved to a new apartment and have quite a few projects to share.

I had a glass coffee table. When I picked it out I was keen on the fact it was glass because this meant it didn’t take up too much visual real estate in my little living room.


However, a glass coffee table does have drawbacks: No one ever really feels comfortable putting their feet up on a glass table, and I believe comfort at home is paramount. Also, it’s hard to keep a glass table looking clean – reflective surfaces like mirror and glass readily show scratches, fingerprints, and dust.

This summer, soon after I moved into an apartment with a bigger living room, I decided to replace the glass top on my coffee table with wood. Here’s what I did:

I bought a piece of ¾” 2’ x 4’ birch plywood ($22 at Home Depot) and had it cut down at the store to the length I wanted (44”).

I wrapped the edges of the plywood with an iron-on veneer edge banding. This veneer edge banding is cool stuff, and it’s easy to work with. I cut it with an x-acto knife and fused it to the edge of my plywood with an iron.


I unscrewed the metal piece that held the glass on top of coffee table, and used the screw holes to attach my newly made wood top.


Then, I stained the wood using Varathane American Walnut Wood Stain ($5 at Home Depot). This was my first foray into staining so I followed the directions exactly from the can: I lightly sanded the wood, vacuumed the dust, applied one coat of stain liberally with a sponge brush, let it soak in for three minutes, and then wiped off the excess with a rag in the direction of the wood.


When I wiped off the first coat of stain, the color wasn’t quite as dark as I wanted it to be, so I applied another coat of stain and let it soak in for about ten minutes before wiping it off.


After this I let the table dry overnight. In the morning I applied Paste Finishing Wax, again following the directions directly from the can:  I rubbed a thin even coat of wax onto the wood with a rag, let it dry for fifteen minutes, and then polished it (rubbed in little circles) with a clean cloth.


The finishing wax didn’t really change the appearance of the stained wood, but in theory it’s helping protect the surface. And, I’m inclined to think it’s working – I’ve been using my coffee table with this wood top for about two months and it still looks exactly like it did when I first finished it.


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