How to build a display coffee table

Our Hammer It Out Series: Display your collectibles in an acrylic-topped box that doubles as a living area table.

Your grandfather’s tools and hard-won collection will not be found in a cardboard box hidden in your garage. You can showcase them on a coffee table that you built yourself with a recessed top and removable top. You can make a display coffee table from scrap lumber and some stock legs.

The Cut List

The shadowbox coffee table cut lists are based on tables with a table leg that measures 5 inches in length and has a section of 2 1/4-by-2 1/4-inch on the top. This flat portion of the post is used to attach the apron pieces. Its width will impact the dimensions of your tabletop frame. If you use legs of different sizes, adjust the measurements accordingly.

Place a long support strip flush to the bottom of each apron and a short screw-strip color to each end. These supports will support the plywood display base. These screws create a block to attach the apron pieces and legs. First, secure the strips using a pneumatic nail gun and one 1/4-inch nail. Next, use a countersink drill to create pilot holes in each strip. Then, insert a one-1/4-inch screw through each strip and into an apron.

Wood glue can be applied to the edge of an assembly of apron pieces. Then, position the apron against a leg so everything is flush with the inside and top of the leg, as shown. Pilot holes should be drilled through the screw strip into the portion. Then, secure the screw strip with one 1/4-inch screw. Continue to join each leg and the apron until you reach the perimeter of your base.

Place the base of the table upside down on the ground. Place the table’s base upside down on the floor. As shown, mark the corners with the screw strips.

Use a jigsaw to cut the notches for each corner of your display bottom. Place the bottom in the table’s base, so it rests on each apron. Use 1-inch nails to fix the bottom.

At 45 degrees, cut the ends of each tabletop frame and 1×1 lip pieces at opposite 45-degree angles. The inside of the frame should be lined with the detail at the top edge.

Wood glue can be applied to the 1×1 edge strips. Lay them flat on the corresponding frame pieces. Attach the 1-inch nails to the frame pieces with the pneumatic nail gun.

After all the frame and strip pieces are constructed, apply wood glue and a little cyanoacrylate adhesive to each mitered edge. To create a rectangle from the corners, join them using one 1/4-inch nail.

Use a permanent marker to draw lines on the acrylic sheet. Use a jigsaw equipped with a metal-cutting knife to cut along the lines.

Place the acrylic sheet on top of the table’s base so that the edges match the corners of your legs. The frame should be placed on top of the acrylic sheet so that it secures around the legs and acrylic. Then fill the holes and joints in the fasteners with wood filler and sand the whole assembly.