Oh, you fancy.
Or at least you will be when you have a coffee table with copper legs sitting in your favorite space. This is a simple project that doesn't require a lot of time if you have some helpful tools we think are worth investing in. Plus, here in KC we have salvaged wood stores popping up across the metro and you probably have one in your town if you ask Google nicely. These are great places to find local wood for a good value.
For this project we used:
3 - pieces of Salvaged Hackberry from KC 1" x 12" x 3'
4 - 24 inch 1" Copper Pipe (purchased at Lowe's)
4 - 1" Copper Caps
4 - 1" Male Copper Ends
4 - 1" metal Floor Flanges
8 - 1/2" wood screws with wide head
1 1/2" Pocket Hole Screws
Tite Bond III Wood Glue
Variety of Sandpaper - We used 80, 120, 220, 320
Clear semi-gloss polyurethane
If you have a place for salvaged wood it will help if they are able to cut the boards, square the boards, plane the boards, and run them through a jointer. If you are limited to a big brand store for lumber, don't panic. Most wood from a big brand store is already S4S, meaning it's been cut square on all sides for easy jointing and it's already been sanded. Make sure you check for warping on these boards because you never know how long they've been standing upright in one of their shelves.
The first thing is to pick out which side of each board you like the grain pattern. Then you want to start arranging the boards where the grain patterns look coherent. Now that you have them organized, make sure you flip them over the same direction so you can work on the underneath side to put your pocket holes.
As you can see, the process is pretty simple. We jointed the boards using the Kregg Jig and pocket hole screws. We use wood glue on all our joints before we use the screws as an added layer of strength. Use bar clamps to put pressure on the long seams and trigger clamps to put pressure on the end seams. This keeps your top from becoming a planing nightmare. If you have glue residue on what will be the top of the table let it set for 15 minutes and then take a scraper to it and it will come right up.
Let the top dry up over night. The next day we had a little planning on some seams and then we sanded top until it was smooth. Because we have little people, we sand down the edges and the corners, which ends up looking decorative but it's for safety of smaller brains.
Depending on how tall you want your table is your next decision. We wanted the table top to be 20 to 22 inches off the ground. Our table is an inch thick and we figured the floor flange and the male pipe cap would add another inch, so we cut the first pipe at 18". Then, we used the first pipe we cut as a template to mark the other pipes. The beauty of the using the male cap with the floor flange is you can adjust each leg simply by tightening or loosening the leg. We don't have perfect floors (Or a perfect house) so this gives us the ability to adjust our table to make it level even if the floor is not.
To install the floor flanges we measured an inch from the long edge and made a chalk line, then we did an inch from the wide edge and made a chalk line. This gave us two lines to put the flange against and we repeated the process on the other three edges.
We assembled the pipe legs with the copper caps and the male caps. Then we screwed each of them into the available floor flange. Now, we have to share a story so you don't go through the same dilemma in regards to putting together copper and metal. (Brad takes it form here)
The first time we went to Lowe's and started to figure out the pipe and flange situation we were approached by a friendly worker asking if we needed help. When we told her what we were doing she told us it wouldn't work. Puzzled, I asked why it wouldn't work. She proceeded to explain a metal floor flange and a copper pipe would have a chemical reaction to one another and the flange would foam (At this point I'm having a Cujo flashback) and corrode. With sadness in my heart I began to put everything back. In the aisle with the copper pipe a kind older gentleman asked me if I was using the pipe for plumbing and I told him about our table project but how the Lowe's employee took our dream, spit on it, and offered no solutions. He followed it up with, "I'm a master plumber and have been in plumbing for 38 years...her advice is hogwash." I laughed and asked Santa masquerading as a plumber why it was hogwash.
He said, "You gonna run water through those pipes?
I said, "I don't think so."
He said, "Then you won't have a problem. The chemical reaction she talked about only happens when moisture is present. You'll be fine."
Boom. The table project was back on.
Standing upright, we applied a fast drying clear polyurethane with a semi gloss. Again, because we have little people we have to protect the table from them as well, we did three coats with a light sanding of 320 between each coat. As you can see, we liked the Hackberry because it's a hard wood with multiple colors in the grain; occasionally there is even some slight purple.
We've loved this table but we did make one slight adjustment after we took these pictures. Sure, we have little people but ours are slightly larger than their peers. Our youngest (The 100lb kindergartner, that's right people...he's a monster) likes to sit on the table when he thinks his parents aren't looking. We ended up having to reinforce the bottom with some boards running across the seams to keep the table from bowing under the pressure. But all in all, this has been a great addition to our living room. We spent about $25 dollars on the wood but $150 for the legs. If you can do it yourself, you'll still come out with a better looking coffee table you'll find at a furniture store for far less money.