Plyboo Coffee Table


  • Plyboo for the top
  • Poplar for the legs and crossbraces

Tools Used:

  • Tablesaw
  • Biscuit Joiner
  • Hand planes
  • Backsaw

I faced a major dilemma when I lived in New York City. I could either have a coffee table big enough to play boardgames on or I could walk through my living room. Being young, fearless, and wanting it all I decided to remedy the problem with a table big enough to play on but that could break down into a closet in seconds.

The cross braces are held together by a lap joint in the center. The top has corner notches that lock into the table legs. To take it apart you simply lift off the top and the legs without having to unscrew anything. The plyboo was a great meterial for this. It's heavy and stable so I did not have to worry too much about warping or expansion due to temperature or humidity.

Problems and Improvements

The one rule I made for this piece was there there should be no hardware holding it together at all. I didnt want to have to unscrew, unclip, pop, push, or any other interaction when you wanted to put it together or break it down. The problem this ended up creating was a wobbly table. What I would do differently next time:

  • Use are harder wood for the legs. The softness of the poplar produced some play in the lap joint. To accoiunt for size changes I also needed to leave a larger tolerance in the corner notches than I wanted.
  • Thicker everything. The thinness of the top and cross braces also didn't end up making very sturdy joints. I'd thicken the area of the brace and would consider a simple latching mechanism if that still did not make it sturdy.