How to Build a Japanese Coffee Table

Written by michael straessle
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How to Build a Japanese Coffee Table
Japanese coffee table that sits close to the floor. (coffee table image by victor zastol"skiy from

Japanese style decor demands a Japanese coffee table. However, cutting down a traditional dining room table just makes it shorter. To get the genuine Japanese feel of a coffee table, build a low table base and a top larger than the base which makes it more comfortable to sit around on the floor. Teakwood or other types of lumber can be used.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Lumber, 4 pieces of 1 x 8 inch
  • Variable speed drill
  • Drill bit, 1/16 inch
  • Countersink drill bit
  • Wood glue
  • Philips head screw tip
  • Drywall screws, 1¼ inch
  • Plywood, 1 piece ¾ inch
  • Penny finish nails, 6
  • Hammer
  • Lumber, 4 pieces of 2 x 12 inch
  • Drywall screws, 1¾ inch

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  1. 1

    Place the four pieces of 1 x 8 inch lumber on a worktable and cut them to the length needed for your design. Measure from the ends of two of them and make marks 3/8 inch from the ends. Make the marks 1 inch from the long edges. Drill a pilot hole on the marks with a 1/16 inch drill bit.

  2. 2

    Drill countersink holes on top of the pilot holes with a countersink drill bit. Do not drill the countersink holes deeper than 3/8 inch.

  3. 3

    Apply glue to the ends of the two pieces without pilot holes. Put them between the wood with pilot holes and secure them through the pilot holes with 1¼ inch drywall screws. This is the frame for the Japanese coffee table.

  4. 4

    Run a bead of glue around the edge of the perimeter of the frame. Cut the ¾ inch plywood so that it is larger than the base of the table but smaller than the intended size of the top. Secure it to the base with 6 penny finish nails.

  5. 5

    Cut the four pieces of 2 x 12 inch lumber to the length needed for your design--consider a height that is comfortable. Set the table frame on top of the lumber and centre it. Secure the frame to the 2 x 12 inch lumber top with 1¾ inch drywall screws.

Tips and warnings

  • Clean up excess glue with a damp cloth.
  • Sand the parts before assembly--it will ease the finishing process.
  • Do not apply a finish to the Japanese coffee table without proper ventilation.

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