A couple of years ago, we built the comfiest outdoor chairs and sofa for my mom with full intentions of creating a complete outdoor seating set. It’s been a few years, but we’re finally getting around to building an outdoor coffee table for the space.
Better late than never, right? In full seriousness, now that I’ve built it, I’m kicking myself for not getting to it sooner. This DIY outdoor coffee table is a quick build and doesn’t cost much in lumber.
In fact, I built (and stained and sealed) this coffee table, a square-ish side table, and a c-side table for her outdoor patio in a day and a half. The wood (and wood plugs) only cost $70–and that’s for all three tables!
One last note before we dive in. This DIY outdoor coffee table is a very beginner-friendly build that only requires a few tools! In fact, it pretty much just uses the tools we recommend getting first for wannabe DIY furniture builders.
Alright, now let’s start DIYing!
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- Miter Saw (we use this blade with ours)
- Kreg Jig (not sure which to get? Check out which Kreg Jig to get in 2023)
- Kreg Quick Flip Drill Bit or ⅜” Countersink Bit
- Random Orbital Sander
- Measuring Tape (new to DIY? Be sure to check out this post with measuring tips)
- Speed Square
- Safety Equipment
- (3) 2x3x8* (we used whitewood kiln dried studs)
- (1) 2x2x8* furring strip
- (3) 1x4x8* (we used common board)
- Wood glue (this is our favorite type and it’s great for outdoor projects!)
- Sandpaper (80 and 120 grit)
- 2.5″ softwood BlueKote Kreg screws
- 1.25” exterior wood screws (we love the PowerPro brand)
- 2.5” exterior wood screws
- ⅜” wood plugs
A quick note on the shopping list: we love the look of the wood plugs and think they add a cool design detail. If you want to save a little money (about $15 across all three tables) or don’t like the look of wood plugs, you can just nail the slats in place. We did that on this outdoor dining table and the slats are still holding strong.
*If you’re planning to build all three of the tables in this patio set, you can save money by optimizing the cut list across multiple projects. If building all of them, you will need (4) 1x4x8s, (6) 2x3x8s, and (2) 2x2x8s.
This completed outdoor coffee table is 44.5” W x 22” D x 16.5” H.
How to Build an Outdoor Coffee Table
Prefer printable plans? Grab yours below!
STEP 1: MAKE YOUR CUTS
Make your cuts according to the cut list in the printable plans or the one below.
When it comes to making cuts that need to be the same size, we highly recommend setting up a stop on your miter saw. This way you can get consistent cuts without having to measure each piece. Yay for increased accuracy and speed!
|Top Frame Front/Back
|Top Frame Sides
STEP 2: DRILL POCKET HOLES
Using the 1.5” settings, drill pocket holes into the following boards:
- (2) on either end of the top frame sides
- (2) on either end of the leg supports
- (2) on one end of the legs
Pocket holes are the foundation of most DIY furniture. Become a pocket hole pro in less than an hour in Pocket Holes: Explained.
STEP 3: SAND
I like to knock out the majority of my sanding before assembly. It’s much easier to get your boards smoother and you don’t have to worry about getting in all the nooks and crannies.
Since the 2x3s were a little rougher, I started with 80 grit sandpaper and then sanded everything again with 120 grit sandpaper.
This step is going to make a big difference in the results of your project, so don’t skip it! Check out this post to see the difference it makes when applying stain!
STEP 4: ASSEMBLE TOP FRAME
Assemble the top frame with glue and 2.5” Kreg screws.
We first attached the two side pieces to the ends of the front piece. Then we secured them to the back piece.
STEP 5: ADD SLAT SUPPORT
Place the slats between the top frame. They won’t be attached yet, but we will use them as spacers to guide where the 2×2 furring strip will go.
Place a furring strip on top of the slats and secure to the top frame with wood glue and (3) 2.5” screws. Repeat with the second furring strip.
STEP 6: ASSEMBLE LEGS
There are two styles you can do with the legs. You can either place the leg support flush with the bottom of the legs like we did in this outdoor side table, or you can place them up from the ground.
For this DIY coffee table, we placed the bottom of the leg support 3.5” from the bottom of the leg (aka the side without pocket holes).
As you’re positioning them, make sure the pocket holes on the legs are facing in towards each other. We found this pocket hole orientation to be the least noticeable once assembled.
Attach a leg support to two legs using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws. Then repeat with the second pair of legs.
Please note: if you decide to raise the bottom support from the ground, the support might make it more difficult to get the right angle to screw in the pocket holes on the legs. This right-angle driver can help make things a little easier.
STEP 7: ATTACH LEGS TO TOP FRAME
Using glue and 2.5” Kreg screws, secure the legs to the top frame. The legs should be flush with the front and back of the frame.
We placed the legs so that they were flush on the sides and front and back of the top frame. Feel free to place them 4-5” in from the sides if you prefer that look!
STEP 8: INSTALL SLATS
Before installing the slats, I went ahead and stained the sides of them as well as the top of the furring strips. These areas will be hard to stain once assembled, so I knocked that out first.
Once the stain was dry, I placed the slats on top of the furring strips, eyeballing the spacing. If you prefer something more precise than just eyeballing, you can grab a ¼” scrap piece of wood and use that as a spacer between the slats.
Please note: the ¼” spacer will work perfectly if it’s exactly ¼”, the 1x4s are exactly 3.5” wide, and your front/back pieces were cut exactly according to plan. It’s likely that there will be a small variation in at least one of these things, so your final few gaps may be slightly smaller or larger.
Next we want to mark 1” from the ends of the slats so that all of our countersink holes are in a row. I used my multi-mark tool to do this. I then eyeballed the spacing from side to side and marked where I wanted to drill the countersink holes.
If you want the spacing on either side to be consistent, you can line the multi-mark tool up with the side of the slats and mark the top and side edge. The corner where they meet will be where to drill your countersink holes.
Using the Kreg Quick Flip Drill Bit, I drilled two countersink holes on either end of each of the slats. Then, secure the slats to the 2x2s with 1.25” wood screws.
Add a dab of wood glue to a wood plug and insert it over the wood screw. Repeat until all of the wood screws are covered.
The wood plugs should be flush with the top of the slats. If not, you might need to adjust how deep you drill with the countersink bit. Once we determined the right depth, we used a cheap drill bit collar to mark the depth. You could also use painter’s tape.
As I mentioned earlier, if you prefer, you can install the slats with nails instead. We chose screws because the slats are less likely to warp and pop out over time compared to screws and because we like the added detail of the wood plugs.
STEP 9: FINISH
To finish off our coffee table, we sanded everything again with 120 grit sandpaper.
Then we stained everything with Minwax Water-Based Weathered Oak stain. A couple of notes on this stain choice:
No, it is not meant for outdoor usage, but we will protect it after with an exterior sealer.
Second, we chose the water-based stain here over the traditional oil-based stain that’s in the yellow can. We’ve found that the water-based stains tend to look a little bit better on pine and pulls less yellow than the oil-based option.
Third, we did not use pre-stain wood conditioner on this project. Normally we would, especially since pine is notoriously blotchy when stained, but it completely slipped my mind. I was in the zone trying to crank out the build and just moved onto staining without thinking.
After staining, we let it dry for a couple of hours and then sealed it with a few coats of Minwax Spar Urethane in Satin. Spar Urethane was originally made for boats, so it’s a great choice for exterior projects.
There you have it! Now you know how to build your very own DIY outdoor coffee table! Be sure to check out the tutorials for the other furniture pieces in this outdoor patio set:
- DIY Outdoor Sofa
- DIY Outdoor Chair with Slanted Back
- DIY Outdoor C Side Table
- DIY Outdoor Side Table
Or grab the bundle of printable plans at a great price!