Coffee Table Woodworking Plan

Coffee Table Woodworking Plan

Express your personal style with this inlaid oak and maple coffee table. You can select from thousands of ready-made inlay motifs (available from mail-order veneer suppliers): floral, modern, traditional, and geometric. Choose veneer colors that complement the oak tabletop.

Coffee Table Woodworking Plan


• Table saw, planer, and thicknesser (or buy prepared wood)
• Sliding compound mitre saw
• Mortiser and 10 mm (3/8 in) mortise chisel
• Bandsaw or tenon sow
• Router, circle attachment, and 10 mm (3/8 in) straight cutter
• Cordless driver, screwdriver bit, twist a bit to suit screws
• Orbital sander, 80-grit, and 600-grit sandpaper
• Block plane
• Pencil, ruler, tape measure, and try square
• Three sash clamps and four G-clamps
• Wood: see drawing – oak and maple
• Expansion brackets: 4
• Screws to fit expansion brackets
• PVA glue, water, and cloth
• Varnish



1. Preparing the wood

Cut and plane the legs to the finished size. Prepare the rails, leaving them longer than needed – 460 mm (18.125 in) Prepare four equal-Width boards for the tabletop, leaving them longer than needed – 560 mm (22.0625 in); use the try square to check that the edges are square to the faces.

2. Gluing the tabletop together

Arrange the four boards so the direction of the end-grain growth rings alternates (one curves upward, the next downward, etc.) and the color and grain pattern of adjacent boards blend as much as possible. Label them in order to Practice clamping to check the joints. Glue and clamp.

3. Cutting the mortises

Mark the position of the mortises on the legs. Set the mortiser to cut mortises 10 mm (3/8 in) wide and to a depth that is sufficient for the adjacent mortises to meet inside the leg. Set the depth stop on the mortiser to cut a mortise 12 mm (1/2 in) deep in the top end of the legs, to take the haunch part of the tenon.


4. Cutting the tenons

Cut the tenons with a compound mitre saw. Make trial cuts on both sides of the end of a tenon to achieve the correct depth. A waste piece can be used to indicate the position of the blade. Complete the tenon by making repeated overlapping cuts. Cut the haunch with the bandsaw and mitre the ends.

5. Assemble the frame

Check that the joints work and label the parts. Plane off the sharp corners and sand the pieces smooth. Apply varnish (do not varnish the joint areas), lightly sand again, and apply a second coat. Prepare wood blocks to protect the workpiece and set the clamps. Glue, clamp and check for squareness.

6. Inlaying the motif

Use the router and circle attachment to cut a recess in the center of the tabletop for the inlay motif (the veneer should be fractionally proud). Glue and clamp the inlay using four G-clamps: lay several sheets of paper over the inlay, followed by a scrap of thick plywood, before clamping Sand the inlay flush with the tabletop. Attach the tabletop to the frame with four expansion brackets.


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