How to Make a Coffee Table With Copper Legs

A coffee table is a coffee table... or is it? Why not have a fun, unconventional place to hold your books and coffee and—dare I say it—your feet? This plywood and copper coffee table can be bright and shiny or tarnished and weathered, depending on what your personal space requires aesthetically. There is no set pattern, so every table will come out a bit different. Need a bigger table? No problem! Build a second and third table and they will fit together like puzzle pieces. How many will you build?

Geometric coffee table with copper legs
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 1

Use a tape measure to find the midway point of the plywood along one edge. Mark it with a pencil.

Finding the midway point of the plywood
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 2

Find the midway point along the opposite edge, and mark it, as well.

Finding the midway point of the plywood, top
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 3

Use a straightedge to connect the two marks with a cut line.

Marking a cut line
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 4

With the cut line as your guide, cut the plywood in half with a circular saw.

Cutting with a circular saw
credit: HomeMade Modern

Set aside one of the pieces for later.

Step 5

Decide on the shape you would like your table to be, and mark angled cut lines accordingly on the first piece of plywood.

Marking the cut lines
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 6

Using these lines, cut off all the excess with a circular saw.

Defining the shape with a circular saw
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 7

Place the first piece of plywood atop the second piece and use it as a template to mark the new cut lines on the second piece.

Tracing cut lines on second piece of plywood
credit: HomeMade Modern

Cut off excess with a circular saw.

Matching the two halves
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 8

Place one piece atop the other, and line up the edges.

Lining up the halves
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 9

Once you've aligned your two halves, screw them together with 1 1/4 inch screws.

Screwing the two halves together
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 10

Lightly sand the tabletop with an orbital sander and 220-grit paper.

Sanding the tabletop
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 11

The sides will be significantly rougher thank the top. Use an 80-grit paper to sand the sides until they are fairly even. Then, switch to 220-grit to finish-sand to full smoothness.

Sanding the edges
credit: HomeMade Modern

It should come out soft to the touch. You may also want to "break," or soften, the hard, sharp edges. This can be done with the orbital sander or with a piece of sandpaper.

Step 12

Make sure your tabletop is sawdust-free before moving on to the next step, by wiping it down with a dusting cloth.

Wiping away all the sawdust
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 13

Apply one coat of polycrylic finish, using a applicator brush.

Applying the first coat of polycrylic
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 14

Once the polycrylic finish is fully dry, give it a VERY light sanding with 220-grit paper.

Sanding between coats
credit: HomeMade Modern

An orbital sander is fine for the tabletop, if you don't exert any pressure. Just let it glide across the top. The sides are better suited for sandpaper.

Step 15

After ridding the tabletop of any new dust, apply a second coat of polycrylic finish.

Applying the second coat of polycrylic
credit: HomeMade Modern

The tabletop is now finished. Set it aside for now and move on to the copper legs.

Step 16

Use a tape measure and a pencil to mark cut lines on the copper pipe.

Marking cut lines
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 17

If you have never used a tubing cutter before, the next few steps detail how it is done.

Line up the cutting wheel on the tubing cutter with the cut line you made in the previous step. Tighten the knob at the bottom of the cutter until there is a medium pressure on the tube. There should be just enough pressure where you can feel the resistance yet still rotate the cutter all the way around the tube.

Detail of tube cutter and copper
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 18

Each time the cutter does a complete revolution, tighten the knob a half turn. You should see this scoring mark begin to emerge.

Scoring the copper
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 19

After several revolutions, the copper will break in two.

Detail of cut copper
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 20

Shine the copper with a steel wool pad.

Polishing the copper
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Detail of shined and unshined copper
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 21

Apply the glue in a thick coating to the inside of the fittings before attaching them to the pipes.

Applying the glue
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 22

As you connect the pipes and the fittings, give the pipe a couple turns in order to disperse the glue evenly.

Attaching the conduit and fittings
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 23

Use eight pieces at 16 inches, eight pieces at 2 inches, eight 45° elbow fittings, and four 90° elbow fittings to assemble the legs, as shown here.

Copper legs
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 24

Use two pieces at 4 3/4 inches, two pieces at 7 inches, two T fittings, and connect them with a 12-inch long piece, as shown here.

Copper assembly
credit: HomeMade Modern
Copper assembly

Step 25

Add four 90° elbow fittings to the ends and four 90° elbow fittings to the ends of one piece at 7 inches and one piece at 11 1/2 inches, as shown here.

Copper assembly
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 26

Add the four legs to the supports.

Fully assembled copper
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 27

Lay the tabletop flat on your work surface, bottom side up. Center the legs on the underside of the tabletop, as shown.

Centering the legs
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 28

Attach pipe straps over the pipes, near the elbows and T-fittings.

Placing the tube straps
credit: HomeMade Modern

Step 29

Attach the straps to the tabletop with 1 1/4 inch screws.

Attaching the tube straps
credit: HomeMade Modern

Flip your table... and you're finished!

Full shot of table
credit: HomeMade Modern
Full shot of table
credit: HomeMade Modern
Detail of copper feet
credit: HomeMade Modern
End shot of table
credit: HomeMade Modern
Top view of table
credit: HomeMade Modern