DIY: Coffee Table Drawer  

Are we the only ones who have an impromptu scavenger hunt every time we want to turn on the television? The remotes in our house are ALWAYS missing.

For years my engineer Breadwinner has talked about building a drawer into our coffee table and today it happened!

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Let me start by pointing out, our remotes are NEVER piled up neatly on top of the coffee table like this. And by never…I mean like, ever. Never. I could build a castle stairway to Cloud CooCooLand with the number of hours we have spent looking for one or more of our silly television/AppleTV/DirecTV remotes.

While the girls and I were off camping with friends the past couple days, Breadwinner spent some time designing up the drawer he has been threatening dreaming up for months now.

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Today the coffee table took a little field trip to the garage for some quick outpatient surgery.

After drawing up a basic design plan, creating a cut list, and hitting the Home Depot, the transformation began.

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Plans called for exactly 2 inch wide wood. Because 3 inch pieces are actually 2 and a half inches wide and 2 inch pieces are 1 and a half inches wide, we used the table saw to cut down our 3 inch lumber (which is actually 2 and a half inches, remember?). Why can’t a 1 by 3 actually be 1 inch thick by 3 inches wide? Or why don’t they just call it what it is- a 3/4 inch by 2 and a half inch board? Moving on…

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After cutting all the pieces to size, it was time to build our basic box.

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We started with wood glue, and reinforced with brads via the air nailer. A simple square kept us…well..square.

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Our box was 14 and a half inches by 21 inches in order to maximize our under coffee table space without cutting apart too much of the structure.

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Once the basic box sides were assembled, it was time to give our drawer a bottom.

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With all our little DIY home projects and my crazy craft projects, we are quickly becoming wood scrap hoarders. A couple quick cuts on the table saw, and this scrap tile backer board I bought to cut out chalkboard thought bubbles for a previous photo booth project, quickly became a drawer bottom. Because the drawer is holding light weight television remotes, wood glue and staples via air nailer were more than sufficient to hold the bottom in place.

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Next up: Hardware. After looking over slides at Home Depot and envisioning the kids slam, slam, SLAMming the drawer closed over and over, we decided soft close slides were best for this project.
Because Breadwinner is an engineer, and a little OCD on his projects, we pre-drilled each hole to prevent the boards from splitting. (I am impatient, so I rarely pre-drill…and my wood almost always spilts…so maybe there is something to that pre-drilling thing)

We attached the drawer slides to the box drawer and supports according to the factory instructions.

Before attaching the drawer and slides to the bottom of the coffee table, it was time for demo.

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We removed the screws from the small support piece under the coffee table, behind the lower trim and the leg supports. (Here’s another close up before surgery in case you are having trouble following my jibberish)

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Once the screws were removed, Breadwinner used a little elbow grease and a mallet to remove the trim and support piece from the coffee table.

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Next, he marked where the front edges of the drawer lined up to the trim and cut accordingly. Since his engineer mind is always working and he realized the table legs still needed support across the front to keep them from wobbling should a tiny human decide to push, kick, or otherwise slam their body into the front legs; he re-attached the pieces to the table that he cut off the front trim to create the drawer front.

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Not only did he keep the pieces and reattach them with the screws already in place for the table legs, he countersunk a new screw at an angle to secure the little piece of wood and the table leg to the table top AND prevent wobble. THIS is why an engineer married to a crazy creative chick works out beautifully.


Finally, we dry fit the drawer, slide hardware, and front trim piece to make sure nothing was wonky before we set the final screws.

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Oh, a little quick tip: We used a shim (also known as a thin piece of cardboard packaging from some tool we recently purchased) under the bottom of the drawer…well really the top…the part of that touches the table…so in this photo the bottom, but when we flip over the coffee table, it’s the top. Make sense? Back on task..shim under the bottom/top of the drawer to allow a tiny bit of clearance. That way when you flip over the table and try to open and close your new fancy drawer, it doesn’t rub against the bottom of the table top. Good idea, right?
Want another good idea?

My brilliant husband (that’s not sarcasm- he really is super brilliant and pretty amazing) thought of every last detail on this project…except how to attach the slide support piece to the coffee table. **correction: After he read this post, he pointed out that he DID have a plan to attach the slide support to the table, he just liked my idea better.** That’s my one brilliant contribution to the project. I saw those old wooden support pieces we removed from the back of the front trim and said, “What about using those?”.

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Remember? From six pictures ago? The ones we used a mallet to remove? Here’s the photo again so you don’t have to scroll back.
I nearly broke my arm patting myself on the back for that one. Luckily Breadwinner was pretty proud, too, so it wasn’t a solo praise party.
Once we had the support pieces attached to the table, we screwed the new face of the drawer (the old coffee table trim piece) in place.

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And well, that’s all she wrote.

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Our coffee table has hidden storage and our remote control hunting days are over.

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Well, that is until we forget that we made a super secret drawer in our coffee table and go searching all over the living room out of habit. (Which Miss Kennedy already did once tonight in the 4 hours since the new coffee table found it’s way back to the living room)

Random fun facts:

This project took a little over an hour and a half from start to finish…not including the time it took to dream it up and the 2 or so years from that date until we actually started said project.

An hour and a half is about half the time it took me to realize I was NOT going to strip the original surface down to bare wood three and a half years ago when I first refinished this piece of furniture. Dang there was a lot of lacquer on that table!

It’s safe to say we are quickly falling back in love with this Kermit the Frog of a table.

Let’s see the Before and After again:
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Now who wants to come sand the red sharpie off the top and put on 8 new coats of poly? Any takers?

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