How to Build a Square Farmhouse Table Instructions

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Farmhouse Coffee Table with stained top and white bottom

Farmhouse Coffee Table with stained top and white bottom

Simple Instructions to Build a Farmhouse Coffee Table

The first step to building a farmhouse coffee table is to do your research. With most house projects I start my research on Pinterest then Google/YouTube. If you are interested in following me on Pinterest here is a link to my pins. Here is a link to follow me on YouTube.

My wife had been asking me for quite some time to build a coffee table and I finally got around to it. Here is a list of everything you need to get your square farmhouse coffee table started.

If you want the cut list and details click here to download the blueprints.

Materials You Need to Build a Square Farmhouse Table

Tools You Need to have to Build a Square Farmhouse Table

Note: If you don't have any of the Kreg Jig Tools, I personally would recommend just getting the Kreg Jig kit that includes everything you need including screws on Amazon, here is the link. If you are also interested in the other tools I have in my shop check out the My Tools page.

Video - How to Build a Square Farmhouse Coffee Table

Farmhouse Coffee Table Lumber

Farmhouse Coffee Table Lumber

Osborne Shanty to Chic Pine Coffee Table legs

Osborne Shanty to Chic Pine Coffee Table legs

Step 1 - What is the Perfect Size and Scale for a Living Room Coffee Table

What is the perfect size coffee table? That is a good question. I first thought it was 4ft by 4ft but then I realized I needed to think of the negative space in my living room. I discovered that 3.5 ft by 3.5ft would be the perfect size. The height of the coffee table is 19.5in. My legs are 4in x4in and the length of skirt on each side is 2ft and 7in.

1x3 pine top skirt for the coffee table is being cut

1x3 pine top skirt for the coffee table is being cut

Setting up the Kreg Jig R3 to drill the skirts pocket holes

Setting up the Kreg Jig R3 to drill the skirts pocket holes

All the pocket holes are drilled for the top skirt

All the pocket holes are drilled for the top skirt

Screwing in the screws into the pocket holes

Screwing in the screws into the pocket holes

Step 2 - Drilling You Pocket Holes for Your Coffee Table

Drilling the pocket holes went rather quickly. In the picture you can see where I screwed the bottom skirt into the leg. I later realized I didn't compensate for the bottom shelf and later had to re-position the bottom skirt. You can learn more about this in my video here.

Framing the Farmhouse coffee table top and bottom skirts

Framing the Farmhouse coffee table top and bottom skirts

The top and bottom skirts are installed to the 4 legs.

The top and bottom skirts are installed to the 4 legs.

Gluing-up the edge of the 2x6 for the farmhouse table top.

Gluing-up the edge of the 2x6 for the farmhouse table top.

Screwing in the Kreg Jig screws into the bottom of the farmhouse table top

Screwing in the Kreg Jig screws into the bottom of the farmhouse table top

One thing you need to make sure of is that you have the proper amount of glue and screws. I wish I would have been more careful at this stage. What ended up happening is my lumber had not quite adjusted to my humidity levels and didn't properly dry out. About 3 weeks later my top started to separate and shrink. This was very upsetting. Be sure that your lumber has been able to adjust to your home's humidity levels (this will be different for everyone). This is something I prepped for but should have take more precautions. To avoid the humidity issues that I experienced I would recommend the following.

  1. Make sure where you are storing your lumber has low humidity
  2. Purchase a Humidity Meter Gauge Monitor

The biggest problem with changes in MC is that wood shrinks and swells. As a rough rule of thumb, wood shrinks or swells 1 percent in thickness or width when the wood changes by 4 percent MC. Some species, like oak, shrink a little more; some, like teak, shrink less. Another problem with changes in MC is that gluing and machining are likely to be more difficult, especially if the wood is drier than desired. Further, if the MC is wrong, then it is likely that the finished product may shrink in use, resulting in cracking, finish failure and warping.

  • 30 percent RH = 6 percent EMC (typical wintertime interior condition)
  • 50 percent RH = 9 percent EMC (typical maximum summertime condition)
  • 65 percent RH = 12 percent EMC (typical outside condition, summer and winter)
  • 80 percent RH = 16 percent EMC (typical outside coastal condition)

In short, it is critical to store dried lumber at the correct EMC at all times. Short deviations of a day or two are permitted, but then the wood must be returned to the correct EMC. What is the correct EMC? It is the same EMC that your customer will have in their home or office. For most of North America, this is an EMC of 6 percent in the wintertime and 8 percent EMC in the summertime. Coastal climates will have higher EMCs and dry desert or mountain climates will have lower values. (source link)

Step 3 - Installing the Base of the Farmhouse Coffee Table

X marks the spot. Make sure you measure the area where the base leg is going to fit. I simply flipped my table upside down and drew a line around the base leg and marked the area that needed to be cut out with an "X". The reason I did this was because nothing is perfectly square and I wanted to make sure I had the best fit possible. I then used my jig saw to cut the corners out and then test fit the other boards in the base of the farmhouse coffee table. You can see how they fit in the picture below. Before installing the base I put in a bottom brace to support any weight being placed on the bottom shelf of the coffee table. I then used wood glue and my nail gun to secure it to the bottom skirt. Then I used my nail punch to make sure there were no nails sticking up.

X Marks the Spot

X Marks the Spot

Test fitting the bottom top on the base of the Farmhouse Coffee Table

Test fitting the bottom top on the base of the Farmhouse Coffee Table

Center Brace for the bottom of the farmhouse coffee table.

Center Brace for the bottom of the farmhouse coffee table.

Step 4 - How to Distress Something That is New

Distressing is a very popular thing right now. It is a rather simple process that if done correctly can really add that touch of warmth and personality to your work. Back in college I studded color theory and to understand how something gets worn you first need to realize that anything that is very old has been handed down from generation to generation and more than likely gotten a makeover from its previous owner.  Over time that piece of furniture has gotten warn out and the edges have show their age and exposed what I consider its history. The worn edges usually do not display bare wood but the many undercoats and colors the piece of furniture has had in its past. This is what makes it unique. To mimic this you must first paint your new freshly exposed wood with a dark undertone or any undertone color you wish to expose. I chose dark brown to match the other color accents in my living room.

Applying a distressing technique by adding a dark brown base color

Applying a distressing technique by adding a dark brown base color

Adding the first white paint over the brown base coat

Adding the first white paint over the brown base coat

Sanded coffee table leg white and dark brown

Once the white paint dries you take a 320 grit sand paper and gently sand the edges of the coffee table. Use your creativity and think of how the piece of furniture would naturally wear after decades of use. There is really no right or wrong way or place to sand as long as you go with the grain.

Step 5 - Installing The Top of The Farmhouse Coffee Table

I used Early American stain for the top of the coffee table. I then applied an oil based polyurethane. Looking back I wish I would have used a water base because clean up would have been much easier. 

Early American Stain on the Farmhouse Coffee Table Top

Early American Stain on the Farmhouse Coffee Table Top

First application of the polyurethane

First application of the polyurethane

The coffee table is complete and sitting in my garage

The coffee table is complete and sitting in my garage

Step 6 - Installing The Farmhouse Coffee Table

Installing the Farmhouse coffee table in my living room was the best part of this build. I loved seeing how my vision came to life and fit in with my wife's decor. I am very pleased and happy with how it all turned out. It fit perfectly and everyone including my kids liked how it fit in the room.

Farmhouse Coffee Table in My Living Room

Farmhouse Coffee Table in My Living Room

Details of the distressing

Details of the distressing

My kids really liked the farmhouse coffee table too.

My kids really liked the farmhouse coffee table too.