How to Build a Convertible-Top Coffee Table

Learn how to build a coffee table with hidden storage and a four seperate tabletops that flip from flat to cushioned.


Tools and Materials:

3/4” oak plywood
3/4” particleboard
3/4” pine trim
Brad nailer with 2” nails and 1-1/4” nails
pneumatic upholstery stapler and upholstery staples
1” upholstery foam
wood glue
sander and sandpaper
wood putty
decorative hardware, handles, hinges and 90 degree angle bars
paint and painting tools
bun feet
table saw, miter saw and a jig saw
metal cut off saw (or hacksaw)
utility knife and scissors
speed square and a tape measure
guided circular saw
drill bit
screw gun
pipe clamps


1. On a table saw, cut the pieces to size from the 3/4” oak plywood:
- one bottom piece at 34-1/2” x 34-1/2”
- two side pieces at 36” x 16”
- two side pieces at 34-1/2” x 16”
- two half-lap divider pieces at 34-1/2 x 14-1/2” (the half lap will be 1/2” x 7-1/4”)
- four panels for the tabletop at 18” x 18”

2. Build the main structure of the table with a 3/4” bottom base and the four side pieces. Secure the pieces with wood glue and 2” Brad nails.



3. Mark the notches on the half-lap (intersecting) pieces – 1/2” wide by 7-1/2” tall. Use a speed square and a utility knife to score the cut then cut the lap out with a jig saw.



4. Apply glue in the lap and fit the pieces together in a cross pattern. Set them inside the box, secure from the underside with glue and 2” brad nails.

5. Cut the 3/4” pine trim to fit around the perimeter of the box. Cut two pieces at 2” x 36”, and two pieces at 2” x 37-1/2”. Attach the pine trim to the coffee table box, leaving a 3/4” reveal on the top (the tabletops will rest on the edge of the box and the cross pieces and will sit flush with the top of the pine trim). Secure with wood glue and 1-1/4” Brad nails. Use pipe clamps to keep the trim in place as the glue dries.

6. For the inside of upholstered panels, cut the 3/4” particleboard into four pieces at 16-/4” x 16-1/4”. Cut four upholstery foam squares to the same size.

7. Lay the fabric face down on your work surface. Set a piece of foam on the fabric, then set the particleboard on top of the foam. Cut the fabric around the square leaving a lot of excess. Pull a corner taught and staple it with a pneumatic upholstery stapler. Work the opposite corner the same way. Continue securing opposing corners, folding the fabric and stapling to secure all the way around. Cut any excess fabric. Repeat the process for the other three squares.

8. Center a piece of the 18” x 18” oak plywood on the upholstered square, with the upholstered side down. Secure the plywood to the particleboard with 1-1/4” brad nails. Repeat the process for the other three squares.

9. Fill nail holes and gaps with putty. Sand any rough spots and stain the coffee table box. When the stain is dry apply one to two coats of polyurethane.



10. Apply decorative hardware if desired. We added handles, angle bar and hinges to give the coffee table a steamer-trunk look.

11. Attach bun feet to the bottom of the coffee table. Stain the feet first to the and attach with included hardware.

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