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How-to: DIY Wood Coffee Table to Dining Table Conversion

To keep a short story short, we recently decided our big, round dining table was taking up too much space. As a replacement, we agreed to sacrifice the beauty of our coffee table in hopes that it would become something greater (you should have seen it before it was sanded and stained… ugh!).

The coffee table originally had a glass top, but that got left behind during our cross-country move. There is a raised edge around the whole table top, so we wanted to add a little something to make the entire tabletop flush. Tile seemed like the best option.

Coverting a Coffee Table to a Dining Room Table

Rather than the old days of pilfering through a collection of tiles and mixing and matching (I guess that’s what they did back then), tiles are attached to a mesh backing, with enough space between them for grout. If the tile sheets are too big, you can just cut the mesh and eliminate however many rows of tiles you need. They just make it so easy.

Coverting a Coffee Table to a Dining Room Table

Another thing that makes this process easy is double-sided, adhesive sheets. The idea is like double-sided tape, but bigger and more heavy duty. In this case, we slapped some of those sheets down on the table surface, laid the tile down on top of that, applied the grout, and voila! There was more time and thought that ultimately went into the whole process than I am probably making it seem, yet it was simpler than originally expected.

Luckily, in this case, the glass tiles didn’t have to be cut. We had to snip some tile rows off by cutting the mesh, but the spacing ended up being nearly perfect. The fit was getting a little snug while putting down the final two tile sheets, so the alignment of the rows is a little off. It still looks nice, though, and gained a ton of character when compared to the lovely but simply stained look the table previously had.

Coverting a Coffee Table to a Dining Room Table

Next on the agenda is finding a chair set. We don’t mind getting down and dirty and doing a little sanding and staining if we have to. They just have to take up a fairly small amount of real estate. And hopefully we find the right chairs soon, because the size of the chairs will ultimately determine the height of the table.

This past weekend, I was biking around L.A. and made a random stop at a thrift store. I happened to find a set of four stools that seemed to work for the table. Being on bike, it would have, of course, been impossible to get them home. Heading back a while later, what do you know? Someone didn’t buy all of the them… someone bought TWO of them! BLASTED! It was a maddening, yet really funny experience.

So once we get the chairs, for the table, it should just be a matter of cutting the legs to height, staining them, and attaching them to the table. It like we are so close but yet so far…… and the search continues.

UPDATE (9/9/12):

I found a chair set on Craigslist that works well with the tables. I wasn’t completely sold on the look of the chair backs, but it was a compromise since my wife didn’t like the saddle chairs I was after. Regardless, the color scheme of the chairs we ended up with go great with the table, and the seat padding is a nice microfiber one.

Coffee Table to Dining Room Table Conversion

The legs that are being replaced…

If you are new to woodworking projects, this part is really important: The width of the coffee table legs were 2″ x 2″, but 1.5″ x 1.5″ wood looked fine at the hardware store, so we brought the lumber home, cut it up, sanded it down, and stained it, only to find that it didn’t look right. Here are the two things we learned from this – 1) If you’re making a table taller, make sure the new legs are at least the same width as the original ones. Otherwise, your table is probably going to end up looking cheap and might be wobbly. 2) If you need 2″ x 2″ wood, you can’t just saw a 2×4 in half because 2x4s aren’t actually 2″ x 4″!!! Rather, they’re in the neighborhood of 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″. Strange, I know, and I can’t tell you why…. but it’s true.

We visited three hardware stores, and finally discovered (thanks to the helpful folks at Anawalt Lumber in Hollywood) that we could have them saw a 4×4 board (which is actually 3 1/2″ x 3 1/2″) down the 2″ square that we really needed.

UPDATE (11/7/12):

So, with the new legs, we’ve finally finished sanding and staining and all that jazz. Ohhhh, what a learning process. But that can’t be bad. In such projects, it’s nice to know what you’ve done wrong, though it would be even better know beforehand that the outcome isn’t going to work!!!!

Here is the latest… I don’t know what wood the tabletop is made out of. Since we went to numerous hardware stores in search the proper size legs, we jumped on the prospect of the lumber store cutting some thicker oak boards down to the 2″ x 2″ size needed. It turns out the tabletop must not be oak because the hue is a slightly different from that of the legs. You can see that in the photo below, but it’s still similar, and the wood grain is really nice looking… so we’re quite okay with the end result.

As a final note, the placement of the legs has also changed. Originally they were about 6″ from either end of the table and also set a few inches inward from the front and back edges. To accommodate extra chairs, the legs are now at each corner of the table, making it all a little more spacious.

New Dining Table Legs

So there it is, another project in the books. If you have any questions about the conversion, I will be glad to help out.


"How-to: DIY Wood Coffee Table to Dining Table Conversion"

Written by: Justin Kilmer

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