When I went to build my herringbone coffee table, there was a lot that I didn’t know about. Now that everything is said and done, the process looking back wasn’t as crazy or difficult as I initially thought. Here is how you can build your own herringbone coffee table. This post is based on the techniques that we used when building this one!
Because of some of the trimming we had to do, this table didn’t end up coming out to exact measurements. However, we aimed for a 2′ x 4′ sized coffee table with 19″ hairpin legs. All around the cost to build this was about $180 with all mistakes included. Keep in mind that $180 is a fair price to pay for a handmade piece of furniture. These types/size tables go well over $300 on Etsy.
Just a disclaimer: this is a table you should build if you have woodworking experience or are having help from someone with woodworking experience.
Build A Herringbone Coffee Table
- Plywood Piece 2’x4′
- 4 pieces of 1″x4″
- 2 pieces of 1″x2″
- Brad Nails 3/4″
- Wood Glue
- Wood Filler
- Circular Sandpaper
- 2″ Brush
- Varnish – Water Soluble
- Hairpin Legs 19″
- Table Saw
- Biscuit Router
- Circular Saw
- Router Saw
- Pin Hammer
- Rubber Mallet
- Orbital Sander or Belt Sander
Step 1: Measure and Cut
The very first step is to measure your center line. This is where the pieces of the herringbone pattern will come together. After determining the center, we then determined how many pieces of 1″x4″ we needed to cut at a 45° angle. For a table of this dimensions, you will need 14 pieces of 1″x4″ cut at a 45° angle.
Using your table saw you’re going to cut 45° angles along your 1″x4″s until you have 14 pieces. The pieces for our table were cut to about 17″ each.
*IMPORTANT* Keep track of which pairs go together! When you make that angled cut, make sure you are uniquely marking which pieces are cut from each other. This will make a huge difference when you are matching up your center line. We didn’t think of this until after the fact…
For the remaining pieces, we will come back to those.
2. Install Biscuits
Line up all of the pieces which fit together, and mark where you want to install biscuits.
Using the biscuit router, drill into the wood planks, so the biscuits will fit. It’s okay if your holes are slightly bigger than your biscuits, you will add glue later to hold everything better as well.
3. Fit and Glue Pieces to Plywood
Once you have all of your biscuits installed, you are going to glue each piece of the herringbone build table to the plywood. Make sure to stay on the centerline as you put pieces together. Once you glue, compress the pieces to the plywood with clamps.
4. Install Brad Nails and Countersink
Okay, this is a picture of what NOT to do! I didn’t have any other pictures of this step unfortunately. Try to install the brads evenly in a line, two per each end of the individual plank. Using your pin hammer, countersink the brads just below the surface of the wood.
We had a difficult time at first and punched a bunch of holes in our table. It’s okay because with a bit of wood filler, you can fix it.
5. Install Leftover Pieces
Now that the major structure of the herringbone table is installed, use the leftover wood to fill in the rest. It looks atrocious, but it was much easier to overestimate the size and cut it later.
Remember, you can always have too much, but once you have too little you can’t go back.
For the top corners of the herringbone, which is where the point meets, don’t worry about those pieces. If you try to install them too early, they will fly off when you square up the table. This happened to us, so save yourself the effort!
6. Square Up the Edges
Using the table saw, square up all edges of the table. Any excess wood that is hanging off, you will want to make sure you cut off. Yes, we had brad nails that were too long and stuck out the bottom. If this happens to you, you can simply shear them off with a grinder.
After using the table saw to roughly square up the edges, we used a router to even it out completely. If your edges are not smooth, then you will have a hard time adding the frame.
When you have finished squaring up the edges, use scrap pieces to fit the final corners in place. For these we only glued them. When you place the frames around, they should hold those corners in place.
7. Sand It
Here it is with the corner pieces set in place. You’re going to want to give the whole table a rough sanding. Focus on the edges, because the next step is to frame the table! You will end up sanding it a few more times.
8. Add the Frame
For the frame, you will use your 1″x2″ pieces and measure each edge of the table. Since you squared up the edges, your measurements will be slightly different than 2’x4′. All we did was measure against the actual table, and mark with a pencil.
When adding the frame, install it with biscuits, glue, and screws!
Here is us lining up the frame right before we secured it. You can notice the top piece of the herringbone build coffee table has two parts. This is simply because we messed up the size, and ran out of wood! All of your frame pieces will be cut at a 45° angle as well, so that they fit together.
9. Fill Gaps
Yay! The hard parts are over! You officially have a herringbone coffee table, but it may look a little rough. If you have gaps in the pieces, as you very well may have, then use wood filler to plug them.
10. Sand Again and Stain
After all the wood filler is installed and dried, sand over the whole table. Start with a grittier sandpaper, and move to something more fine. This will soften the wood and allow the stain to be applied evenly.
I stained my table with a color called “american classic” and it turned out beautifully. Just take a rag and wipe it on. You can do multiple coats for a richer color, but for my build I only did one coat.
To avoid stark contrast, I recommend staining the bottom as well. No need to sand the bottom, but the stain will make sure no one can see the difference in color.
11. Install Legs
The legs are super easy to install. All you need to do is drill the screws right into the wood. The only thing to be careful about is your screw length. The last thing you want is to be screwing right into the parquet!
12. Add Varnish
I used an oil based varnish because it was a buck cheaper, but you should use a water soluble varnish. It simply makes cleanup easier. Make sure to have a well ventilated area and add at least 3 coats of varnish. If you end up with streaking or air bubbles, you can get very fine steel wool to buff it out.
And voila! You have built your own herringbone coffee table.