Modern elegance – coffee table décor

An elegant and sophisticated piece of furniture like this would cost a maximum of R 3500, but this guide will ensure you get the very same style for only R 800. This cost includes all the materials to build the coffee table, and even the paint!

If you’re not a fan of clean finishes, you could distress the table to get a more “Shabby Chic” finish that will work well with your “Shabby Chic” themed interiors.

Now that we’ve got you excited about this thrifty DIY project, you should assemble all the things you’ll need.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 of 640 x 1240mm 16mm SupaWood for the top
  • 1 of 600 x 1200mm 16mm SupaWood for the base
  • 1 x 450 x 600mm 16mm SupaWood for the divider
  • 1 of 550 x 600mm 16mm SupaWood for the shelf
  • 2 of 70 x 1200mm 16mm SupaWood for the front panel
  • 2 of 70 x 632mm 16mm SupaWood for the side panel
  • 4 of 69 x 69 x 536mm PAR pine for the legs
  • 2 of 44 x 44 x 1800mm lengths of PAR pine for the crossbeams
  • 4 x 35mm cut screws
  • 5 x 75mm cut screws
  • 6 steel corner braces or brackets and 16mm screws
  • Pattex No More Nails adhesive
  • Wood filler
  • Plascon Wood Primer

No artist is complete without the proper tools to create, so here’s what you should have for this project:

  • Drill / Driver plus assorted bits
  • Countersink bit
  • 10mm spade bit
  • Mitre saw or mitre box and backsaw
  • Orbital or Random Orbit Sander plus 120- and 240-grit sandpaper
  • Optional: Dremel Trio  or Router and decorative bit
  • Tape measure and pencil

And don’t worry; you can easily get all of these tools and materials at your local hardware store. Feel free to ask for assistance when you get to the store.

Quick note:

Pre-drill all sections with 3mm countersunk pilot holes.

Assembling the pieces:

1. Before you start assembly there are a couple of pieces that need to be cut and routed. On the base, measure 69 x 69mm for the legs to be mounted and cut this out with a jigsaw.

2. Mark at the centre of the cut out on the long side and drill a 4mm pilot hole x 75mm deep for mounting the legs to the base.

3. On the top, front, back and side panels, use a Dremel Trio or Router and decorative bit to finish off the outside edges.

4. Measure and mark at 217mm from the top and bottom of the divider and use this as a guide to mount the shelf using 4 x 45mm screws.

5. Measure and mark at 550mm in on the shelf side and draw a line. Also draw a line at 566mm – on both sides of the base. Use this as a guide for securing the base to the divider.

6. On the legs for the side where the shelf is mounted, measure and mark around the leg at 70mm and 86mm, and 303mm and 319mm; also mark the centre point at the front of each leg (34.5mm). On the remaining two legs only draw a 70mm and 86mm line with a centre mark at the front. On this mark drill a 10mm deep hole with a 10mm spade or drill bit.

7. Using the drawn lines as a guide, mount the legs to the base and shelf using 5 x 75mm screws. These holes can be filled with a 10mm plug or using layers of wood filler.

8. Allow a 20mm overlap all the way around the top before screwing the top to the legs and divider. Do this using 4 x 45mm screws.

9. Secure the front and back panel to the legs. Repeat this for the side panels, adjusting the screws slightly to avoid the screws already in place for the front panel.

Quick tip:

Add 2 steel angle braces or brackets along the front and back panel, and one each on either side. Secure these to the underside of the base to ensure the panels are firmly fitted along all edges.

10. To make the crossbeams, first cut four 650mm lengths of 44 x 44mm PAR pine. On one length, cut a 42-degree angle at the top. Place this against the side of the table and mark at the bottom for the correct length.  Repeat this for the second leg, and for the legs on the other side.

This may seem a bit tedious but it is necessary. Providing exact lengths and cutting angles may cause problems because discrepancies in a few millimeters, here and there, in the final assembly can make a lot of difference when fitting the crossbeams.

And remember to keep the crossbeams in pairs for side A or side B. This will make it easy for you to know exactly which piece fits where.

11. Take one pair of crossbeams and place these in position in the side of the table to mark the exact point where the two crossbeams intersect – draw a line on the top and bottom of both crossbeams. Repeat this for the other side.

12. So that the crossbeams overlap you need to remove exactly half the thickness on both beams. The crossbeam at the back will have the top half removed while the crossbeam at the front will have the bottom half removed. These will then slot together to create the ‘X’ shape at the ends of the table.

Quick tip:

You can use a table saw, mitre saw or a wood chisel to remove the half sections. The pine will be laminated – glued together will be reasonably easy to remove.

13. Use Pattex No More Nails adhesive to glue the sections together and then clamp and leave overnight.

14. Secure the crossbeams in place with a bead of Pattex No More Nails adhesive on the ends.


Fill all the screw holes with wood filler and leave to dry. Once dry, sand all the cut edges with 240-grit sandpaper until smooth.

Before painting the table, use Plascon Wood Primer on the pine sections. Apply two coats with a paintbrush and foam roller combination and allow the first coat to dry before applying the second coat.


Using a Bosch PFS spray system is the easiest way to paint detailed furniture and application is easy and quick. Alternatively, you can use a paintbrush and foam roller combination to get a smooth finish.

We recommend you use Plascon Polvin paint.  It’s a matt paint that can easily be sanded between coats with 300-grit sandpaper, and after the final coat, with 1000-grit sandpaper.  All the sanding between coats provides a silky smooth finish over which you can apply antique wax or clear acrylic sealer.

We have more exciting DIY projects and ideas in the DesignMind DIY Book on DesignSnaps. Create your own book, snap and resnap all these ideas to store them for future projects.


DesignMind is an on-line market place for South Africans to find inspiring home building and decorating ideas and the suppliers best able to make home improvement dreams a reality.

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