Monday, September 15, 2008

How To Build A Sofa Table

With a few simple tools you can build your own dining room table or sofa table. Below are pictures of a sofa table I built last week. The same method applies to making a large farm table, but with extra cross members in the frame. All of this can be built with only a skill/circular saw and a hammer and nails. I have a table saw and miter saw, which make cutting straight lines very easy.

First thing to do is figure what size you want your table to be and if it needs to be an exact width. I recently made three farm tables 3’ x 8’. However the three top boards were 1x12, which means they are actually ¾” x 11-1/2”, my table was actually 34-1/2” wide instead of 36”. Not a problem for my client. Also, the legs for this table were 2x4. For large tables I use 4x4s tapered down.

For the table pictured the boards I started with were 1x12, but I only wanted the sofa table to be 16” wide so I ripped the boards down to 8” wide and used the remaining 3.5” as the frame. The lumber used for this project was:
2 – 1x8 @ 48”
2 – 1x4 @ 44”
3 – 1x4 @ 10-1/2”
4 – 2x4 @ 29” tapered down to 2x3

With my table top at 16” x 48” I figured the frame to be 2” smaller all around. I cut the boards to length and prepared to assemble them. I was using a hammer and #10 x 3” nails for this project. You should always predrill nail holes to prevent the wood from splitting.

I nailed the frame together then placed the top boards on the frame measuring 2” all around. Then I nailed the top boards in place. Afterward, I flipped it upside down on my worktable and nailed the legs on.
Our client wanted an antiqued rough looking table so I beat on the boards with a hammer and garden tool then scraped it with an awl.

The frame and legs were painted with a green latex paint. After the paint dried overnight, the painted areas were lightly sanded to remove some of the paint, but not all of it. Then the entire table was hand wiped with stain. The stain gives the painted areas an antiqued look and helps bring out the wood underneath. The table can be finished off with a clear coat of hand rubbed polyurethane or Orange Oil.

As you can see from the pictures this was all made on a little table in my back yard. It was started late one afternoon and finished quickly the next morning.


  1. how would you add a shelf on the bottom

  2. I have built one with a bottom shelf. I simply cut a 2x4 to fit between the legs, then rip(cut lengthwise) into two 2x2 boards. Attach them at the same height from the bottom by nailing through the legs, then place a board on them which is the width of the inside of the legs. Although it looks better to use a wider board and jigsaw a slot for the legs.