Are you looking to replace the coffee table in your living room because you’ve grown tired of it? Have you given any thought to the possibility of upcycling it before you give it the boot and start looking for a replacement online? If you spend a few hours of your time and put in a little bit of effort, you might be able to breathe new life into an old table that you already have.

Get all of your supplies together in the first place. A coffee table with four legs and some sort of surface area at the top (the underside of the tabletop works awesomely for this), screws, wood glue or liquid nails, sandpaper, and paint, stain, wood sealer, or varnish, depending on what you want to use on the final product, are all things that you will need to complete this project.

Take notes on how the table was assembled before you begin taking it apart, just in case you forget how it was put together later. This is of utmost significance in the event that it consists of more than one layer that needs to be peeled away. I should have done this before I started on mine, but I didn’t. Oops! Ask someone who is more knowledgeable about it than you are about how it is held together, or come up with an educated guess. You should be able to tell by looking at one of the legs, and doing so will also give you a good idea of how to brace it in the future.

Next, remove any screws or nails that are securing the top to the base. Put them in a bowl or some other container to keep them from being misplaced. Put these components aside in case you intend to reuse any of them. If not, then dispose of all of that outdated material.

Let’s get started on dismantling the table itself right now. If you don’t like breathing sawdust, it’s probably best to do this activity outside. Simply remove everything from the bottom layer except for one leg; this leg should be used as your primary support pillar (unless it is too warped or unstable).

The majority of tables that have tops that can be removed have either two or four legs. If it has four legs, you need only remove the ones that are on opposite sides of those you intend to use as support pillars. Check to see if they are stable enough when the top is removed!

You should now take a drill that has a bit that is slightly smaller than the screws or nails that you intend to use in order to brace the table. At this point, the table should be disassembled, and you should have a plan for how to brace it. If you want to avoid cracking or splintering the wood when you screw something into it, first mark where you want the support pillars and holes to go, and then drill pilot holes there.

Install each one by screwing or nailing it into place, making sure that it is level with the others. If you are using two legs, you should try to position them so that they are diagonally opposite one another. Now disassemble any of the larger pieces of furniture that you think might be needed for the project (optional).

After removing everything from the tabletop that you intend to use, sanding down any rough edges, and wiping the surface clean with a damp cloth, the next step is to either apply wood sealer or varnish or paint, depending on how you want the tabletop to look. If your tabletop has already been sealed or finished, you can skip this step; if not, it is essential to do so before continuing with the project in order to provide additional protection against water damage. If you are going to paint, you might need more than one coat of primer; make sure to wait for it to dry between applications.

I used Minwax Dark Walnut Stain on my coffee table because I wanted it to have the appearance of the tops of old barrels (in the style of Indiana Jones). Stain requires fewer coats than paint does, so the application process is easier. Additionally, stain does a better job of hiding imperfections in the wood’s surface than paint does.

If you want the tabletop to be a different color than the rest of the piece, you will need to paint it after the stain has dried (I would recommend waiting approximately 24 hours).

For this, I used some old stuff that had been lying around in my garage for a while (Rust-Oleum Painters Touch spray paint in silver and white with a little primer mixed in for good measure), but any kind of spray paint will work. When using spray paint, it is imperative that you do so outside! Spray light layers and keep moving, so it doesn’t look like a zebra stripe. It will take several coats to achieve full coverage; in between each application, be sure to let the paint dry completely. Your project is going to take a little bit more time because you are going to be using a brush and/or roller.

After putting everything back where it belongs, you can finish it off with anything that strikes your fancy. It is highly recommended that you glue felt pads to the bottom of tables like these, which have a decent surface area but only two legs, as this will prevent the tables from scratching floors and leaving indentations when you are moving things around them. If your tabletop isn’t perfectly flat, you should consider doing this. It’s a great idea.


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