DIY Copper Coffee Table

Kate-Miss-CopperTable

It all started with getting a real sofa. And then I made a coffee table that wasn’t great, but we didn’t hang out on the sofa often so we didn’t really notice that much. But then we got a TV and suddenly a good coffee table was much more important. Something to prop your feet on, something to hold all the damn remotes a TV requires, something to put your glass of wine on while you plow through seven episodes of Scandal in a row. So we built another not great coffee table, constructed of things we already had, and it turned out to be awful and wobbly. Will is a carpenter but building things when he gets home after hours of hard labor does not sound appealing, and I get that.

Kate-Miss-CopperTable-2

So I started plotting something on my own, something to do on the side as I’ve been in need of a non-work related project. After I built a copper pipe jewelry stand for the book fair, I decided I really wanted to use copper pipe. Pros: so pretty! You can cut it yourself fairly easily! They sell everything you need at Home Depot! Cons: so expensive, they don’t really make flanges for it so you have to get creative with how it attaches to things and connects. I sketched out a million ideas and almost gave up until an idea sprang into my head so suddenly I immediately jumped from my desk and ran to Home Depot.

Kate-Miss-CopperTable-4Kate-Miss-CopperTable-3

Ok, so if you’ve ever spontaneously built something before you know it’s not always the best idea to spring from your desk and run to the hardware store. So it’s no wonder I returned to the hardware store three times in less than 8 hours and went over budget accidentally cutting copper incorrect lengths. But I finally did it, and did it all on my own. Carpenter husband gave it his seal of approval. I will admit it’s not perfect and because cutting copper isn’t super precise the legs aren’t 100% even so I need some rubber on the bottom to even it out, but it’s nothing crazy.

Kate-Miss-CopperTable-5Kate-Miss-CopperTable-quad

Here’s what you need for this project (I’m linking to Home Depot as that’s where I bought everything, I’m not sure what other hardware stores will have):

  • 1/2″ Type M Copper Pipe. Type M is the softest and cheapest and all you need for this since we’re not building a house. The longer the piece of copper you buy, the more you will save, but you have to have the means to transport it. I could only fit 5′ pipes in my car, but they also sell 10′ if you have a larger vehicle, and that is the more economical route.
    My table’s wood top is 4ft long by 17″ wide and 1″ thick. It stands about 16.5″ tall and I wish it was only 16″ as my sofa is so low, but it’s not obnoxious to use, it just looks a tad too high. Here’s a break down of the pipe sizes you’ll need to cut for this particular size:
    6 at 14″ – these are you legs
    3 (edited from six, which was incorrect earlier, sorry!) at 13 1/4″ – these connect the legs on the floor
    4 at 22.5″ (this caused my pipe to be flush with the edge of my wood, which is dangerous as it could look dumb if it wasn’t exact and stuck out, I might recommend doing 22 or 22.25″ to be safe) – these connect all the pieces together and get drilled against the wood.
  • 10 1/2″ CxC 90 Degree Angle Elbows. MAKE SURE you are buying CxC and that your copper pipe fits into both ends. The first trip I bought one that fit into one end but not the other. d’oh.
  • 2 1/2″ Tees. Make sure all three ends are 1/2″.
  • 6 1/2″ Tube Straps. Because they come in packs of 5, you could go crazy and screw down the pipe in more spots if you’re paranoid.
  • Wood board. I used a 4ft long by 17″ wide and 1″ thick piece of laminated pine. It’s actually the exact same piece I made my old desk with ages ago and I highly suggest a piece this thick as it has less of a chance of bowing and holds everything nicely.
  • Wood stain. I used a stain + poly to protect spills and cup rings but applied it quite light as I hate the look of thick poly. (optional, I think a raw piece of wood would also look awesome, though I might recommend sealing it if you have an ounce of slob in you like myself) You’ll obviously also need all the stuff to stain it. Gloves, sandpaper to prep the wood and sand in between coats, your brush of choice (I like foam). TIP: stain both sides! The wood will bow if you do not.
  • 12 3/4″ wood screws. When you drill one side down you can pull the other a bit to line it up evenly, don’t be discouraged if you lay it on top of the wood and it looks warped.
  • Gorilla glue. Copper connections meant to be soldered together for a tight fit and this does the job instead and makes the whole thing tight and not so wobbly. I only glued the leg pieces, so I assembled everything, drilled it all down, and then removed all the leg pieces and glued them, then flipped the table right side up to let it dry with weight on it. A rubber mallet is helpful for making sure everything is snug.
  • Pipe cutter. Make sure it cuts copper. Pro tip: Don’t buy the cheap junior one! I bought the cheap one and it cut in a spiral and gave me blisters. I went back and bought the more expensive one and it not only cut straighter, but was less insane on my poor hands. But it still may cut in a spiral sometimes. If so, rotate at 180 degrees back and forth instead of around and around.

In the end I spent about $160, though I wasted some copper cutting a whole pipe the wrong length, so it could be a touch lower for you, and you may have things around like screws, stain, glue, etc. Even though it was a lot of work, it looks so much better than something I could have purchased for twice that! Also, something to note is the copper will oxidize over time and get darker, especially if you touch it often. You could coat it with a protective finish, which I’m contemplating. I’ll update you on that if I decide to, though I think spray polycrylic would be best?

Because I know someone may ask, my living room details: sofa – vintage, pillows: Barrington Blue and Cotton & Flax, rug: Overstock.com (though I’m so tired of it and want a new one! Who wants to buy me this one or this one?), curtains: Target (they’re ombre though it’s hard to tell), lamp: CB2, everything else is vintage.

Comments

  1. says

    This is so great! I’ve been dreaming of doing something like this for a long time, but I haven’t gotten up the nerve. I have a tendency to jump into things head first without doing all the planning, screwing up and cursing as I keep making dumb mistakes, so it’s awesome to have this tutorial to know where to begin.

  2. says

    I love this! I have a pretty beat up coffee table and I am looking for a fun new project – I am just trying to juggle “for-fun” projects and my etsy shop, but this is definitely going to happen.

    • says

      You could sit on it but I wouldn’t recommend standing on any coffee table! The 1/2″ pipe is pretty thin so if it needed to be even sturdier I’d recommend the thicker pipe.

  3. says

    I searched your blog (I came over from Link Love on Nubby Twiglet’s site) and I love your couch! May I ask where you got it from? I’m looking for something similar?

    Thanks!

  4. says

    i adore this! we are desperate in our search for a great and streamline coffee table that fits into our small space between our couch and media console (read: $2 tv stand that holds all of our albums and remotes… for now), along with it being something that suits US and the space.
    HALLELUJAH.
    i’m starting planning now.

  5. Margo says

    Hi Kate, we made this table today and are really excited about it! Just waiting for the stain to dry so we can screw the leg frame onto the table. A couple of small things: your instructions say you need 6 connector pieces, but it looks like there are only 3, which meant we bought an extra five foot pipe to cover the difference. My other question was about the polycrylic spray. We sprayed it on the pipe and it immediately started discoloring the pipe. Did you have this same problem? We’ve been trying our best to get the spray off the pipe to get the copper back to normal. Any tips or advice on this would be great. Thanks!

    • says

      Good catch, it should say three, not six! Sorry about that. As for the spray, I didn’t spray mine, I only read about how you could do that, but did not try it myself so I can’t speak to that at all. Someone at a hardware store would know best, but if you used acrylic spray there should be something to remove the coating, like paint thinner.

  6. marissa says

    Hi Kate! I am looking into building a small simply desk using this design. I was wondering if your table is sturdy or does it move when you bump into it? Like sway side to side?

    • says

      I don’t think I’d recommend it as a desk! It would need a way for the legs to be sturdier against the underside of the table, or somehow braced against a wall. I might recommend using thicker pipe, too!

    • says

      Yeah I think that’s a great idea! Though I wonder if it would get in your way with your legs under your desk? Another thought I had was a bar across the back that’s flush with the edge of the wood so that you could bracket and screw it against the wall. Or use small L-brackets at the back so they’re hidden. Though if you have molding it might be an issue, so you’d have to take that into account when you attach the legs. So many little details to consider!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *