How to Make a Coffee Table with Lift Top

For this easy woodworking project I’m making a coffee table with a lift top mechanism and aluminum legs. The lift-top allows for bringing the table up to perfect height for dining in front of the television or bringing your laptop up to an ergonomic position. This was my first time soldering and brazing aluminum tubing and I’m very happy with the results. The great thing about this brazing technique is there is no need for a welder. All you need is a blow torch and some brazing rods. The lift-up table mechanism from Rockler raises the table 6 1/2 inches and has a forward travel of 17 inches. The top is made mostly from one sheet of 3/4 inch walnut plywood except for the corner accents and the edge banding which is made from solid walnut. I finished the table with one coat of boiled linseed oil to bring out the beauty and 4 coats of polyurethane to add a layer of protection. Links to all the tools and supplies are below along with detailed plans to make this yourself. Purchasing through the provided links helps support the content I provide. If you have any questions or comments please leave them in the comment section below. Learn more about the Bora Saw Plate and Clamp Edge used in the video.

Items Used

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cutting aluminum tubing

Step 1: Cut Aluminum Tubing

We’ll start off by making the legs out of 3/4″ aluminum tubing. What I like about using aluminum is it’s soft enough to cut with ordinary woodworking saw blades.

file aluminum edge

Step 2: Chamfer Aluminum Tubing Edges

I’ll then chamfer the edges to allow a channel for the brazing material.

clean aluminum

Step 3: Clean Aluminum

Before brazing it’s very important that the aluminum is clean.

brazing aluminum

Step 4: Soldering the Aluminum

Clamp up the tubing and start heating the aluminum with a propane torch. Aluminum will start to melt at 1200 degrees fahrenheit but the brazing rod will melt at around 700 degrees so we want to get the aluminum hot enough to melt the rod without melting the tubing. Getting the tubing hot enough may take 4 to 5 minutes. You’ll know when it’s hot enough when the rod starts to melt on contact. Rub the brazing rod along the channel until it’s filled in and finish it off with some more heat. If you don’t get the aluminum hot enough the brazing rod will just clump up and not stick to the tubing. This takes some patience and practice as my first few tries resulted in failures and ugly joints. You’ll want to repeat the process on all 4 sides of the tubing for a strong joint.

painting aluminum legs

Step 5: Sand, Prime and Paint

Then I’ll sand, primer and paint my legs flat black.

rip plywood on tablesaw

Step 6: Cut Plywood to Size

Cut all your plywood pieces to width and length.

crosscut plywood on tablesaw

Step 7: Crosscutting Plywood without Tear-out

Crosscutting plywood with a combination blade almost always results in tear out and I find the easiest way to prevent that is to just cover the plywood with painters tape.

rip thin strips

Step 8: Rip Thin Strips for Edge Banding

To cover up the exposed edges of the plywood I have some 1/16th inch thick walnut that I’ll rip into 3/4 inch strips. You could also use a 3/4″ thick walnut board and rip thin strips off of that or even purchase some pre-made walnut edge banding.

add edge banding to plywood

Step 9: Edge Banding

Now I’ll just glue it down to the exposed edges of the plywood and clamp it down with painters tape.

glue on front and backs

Step 10: Glue on Panels

On the top side I’ll use painters tape to mark the inset. This will also protect the wood from glue squeeze out. I’ll then add some glue to the bottom of the pieces and set them in place using the blue tape as reference.

screw on fronts and back

Step 11: Add Screws for Reinforcement

Let that sit and dry for a bit, flip it over and add some screws for reinforcement. Glueing it before adding the screws allows for perfect placement.

glue on accent corners

Step 12: Add Corner Accents

I’ll then add some corner accents buy just gluing and taping them in place.

screw on table legs

Step 13: Screw on Legs

For the legs I’ll just drill holes and screw it in place. I’m using 1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws because of their large head.

add rockler lift top mechanism

Step 14: Screw on Rockler Lift-top Mechanism

For the Rockler lift mechanism I’ll just set it inside and use the same screws to secure it in place.

add lift top to table

Step 15: Screw on Lift Top

The easiest way I found to attach the top is to set it in place and slowly lift it up and allow the mechanism to raise with it. Make sure the wood doesn’t slip, clamp it down and screw it in place.

add boiled linseed oil

Step 16: Finish With Boiled Linseed Oil and Polyurethane

I’ll then take it all apart and and finish the wood with boiled linseed oil and a few coats of polyurethane.

add rubber bumpers

Step 17: Rubber Feet and Bumpers

Put it all back together, add some rubber feet and some rubber bumpers and that’s it!

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