Magazine article Sunset

It's a Coffee Table ... or a Holiday Dinner Table

Magazine article Sunset

It's a Coffee Table ... or a Holiday Dinner Table

Article excerpt

If you're hosting this season's holiday gathering, you may be worried about where everyone's going to sit. You can solve the overflow graciously with this convertible table. Building it takes a weekend, average woodworking skills, and simple tools.

Designed by architect Lawrence Steiner of Portola Valley, California, the table (a door supported by two hinged leg units) spends most of its life at coffee-table height. When needed, the legs swing down, raising the table to its 30 1/4-inch height. Each L-shaped leg is composed of three plywood panels: one short, one long, and a stabilizing spine. Screws and fender washers secure legs in both positions.

Steiner surfaced and trimmed his door with parquet flooring and mahogany. We covered ours with cork and trimmed the top and legs with oak. You could also use plastic laminate, or stain and seal a hardwood-veneer door, trimming only the legs,

Materials and tools

Materials for our table cost just under $150. To make one, you'll need to buy:

* A 32- by 80-inch paint-grade hollow-core door for tabletop, about $25.

* A 4- by 8-fOOt Sheet Of 3/4-inch oakveneer plywood for legs, about $46.

* An 80-inch length of 36-inch-wide, 3/16inch-thick roll cork for top, about $3 a linear foot.

* About 26 feet clear oak (I by 2 in.) for trim, 95 cents per linear foot. (Hardwood dimensions vary. We used 3/4 by 1 1/2 in.)

Other supplies include a box of #6 finishing nails, ten 2-inch #10 screws, four fender washers, four 4-inch strap hinges with screws, 1 quart wood glue or contact cement, 2 quarts polyurethane, and wood putty You'll also need a screwdriver, hammer, nail set, utility knife, circular saw, drill, and miter box.

Making the table

If you don't have a large, clean work surface, lay a sheet of plywood across a pair of sawhorses.

First, mark oak plywood for legs into two 28 1/2- by 32-inch main panels, two 9 1/4 by 32-inch end panels, and two 9 1/2- by 27 3/4inch spines; align panels to maintain consistent direction of wood grain.

Before you cut the plywood, score lines with a utility knife to avoid splitting veneer, then cut using a fine-tooth plywood blade in a circular saw. …

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