How to Convert a Coffee Table to a Lift Top

Written by janekubiesa
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How to Convert a Coffee Table to a Lift Top
The lift-top hinges are concealed once the tabletop is back in position (Chest with drawers on a white background image by Dmitry Nikolaev from

Turning a simple coffee table into a much more functional item of furniture is a lot easier than you would imagine. By adding a lift mechanism under the existing table top, your former coffee table could be transformed into a work desk, television dinner table or laptop computer bench thanks to the lift-top coffee table design. And what's more, it folds back down to continue life as a coffee table once you're finished. This design uses a hidden hinge to lever the top of the table into a higher, horizontal position without the need to remove items on the tabletop.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Screwdriver
  • Saw
  • Sandpaper
  • Wooden cantilever table hinges (pair)
  • Pencil
  • Varnish or stain
  • Paintbrush

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  1. 1

    Remove the tabletop from the coffee table base. This might require a little force to dislodge the glue, a screwdriver to unscrew the fixings or a saw to split the wooden joint. Ensure that the newly revealed top of the base is as even as possible because this is where the replaced tabletop will rest.

  2. 2

    Sand the top of the base and the underside of the tabletop to remove any rough edges or splinters.

  3. 3

    Line your right-hand hinge up against the right-hand inside of the coffee table base. The right-hand hinge will be the one that fits flush to the woodwork when you hold it in place.

  4. 4

    Open the hinge fully and change its position inside the coffee table base until it is placed in an area where it can open unobstructed and where the top of the hinge is level with the top of the coffee table when it is in a closed position.

  5. 5

    Mark the position of the screw holes with a pencil.

  6. 6

    Make pilot holes with a screwdriver and attach the hinge with the screws provided. Repeat to attach the left-hand hinge to the left-hand inside part of the base.

  7. 7

    Lay the table base upside-down on top of the tabletop where it will eventually be positioned.

  8. 8

    Screw both hinges into the underside of the tabletop with the screwdriver, ensuring they are in a closed position.

  9. 9

    Varnish or paint the newly revealed underside of your tabletop and the top of your coffee table base to match the finish on the rest of the table, remembering that this will be visible every time your lift-top table is in use. Use a paintbrush.

Tips and warnings

  • As an alternative, use a spring-assisted pop-up table hinge instead of the wooden cantilever-style hinge. These are screwed to the bottom of the base rather than to the side.
  • Buy the kind of hinge that locks once it is fully extended or the tabletop will simply fall back down once opened.
  • When the coffee table is being used as a lift-top table, it is unwise to place excessive amounts of weight upon it as the hinges could break or the coffee table could overturn.

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