More in Salvage

How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Facebook fans of This Old House came up with the idea to turn this found cabinet door into living room centerpiece

a finished coffee table made from a salvaged cabinet door
Photo by Ryan Benyi

I find some of my best stuff on the street. Take, for instance, this knotty-pine door that one of my neighbors had trashed. I think it once belonged to an armoire because, unlike most of the vintage pantry doors I've seen, it didn't have a trace of paint. The unfinished wood had been babied like furniture, displaying the luster you get from years of waxing.

In search of a way to repurpose my street score, I did what I always do: I asked my friends. But this time, I expanded my circle to the tens of thousands of TOHers on Facebook.

And the winner is... the cabinet-door coffee table

You voted with your thumbs. And luckily for me, most of those thumbs endorsed the coffee-table idea. I'd been without one since my toddler took her first steps. Now that she's steady on her feet, I needed a replacement for the fragile glass table I'd given up. Plus, it's perfect for my kid-friendly furnishing strategy. The door is already banged up, so what more damage could be done? And there aren't any sharp corners for my little one to bonk her head on.

Though I was tempted to cover the recessed panels with Plexiglas to level the surface, I let them be, preferring to treat the rectangles as individual trays. Prefab steel table legs ($42 for the pair; Rustic Living on Etsy) made assembly quick and easy. The lower shelf is actually leftover tongue-and-groove flooring that I had in the workshop. So, except for the legs and fasteners, this coffee table was practically free. Follow along to see how it came together.

Join the conversation! "Like" Salvage-Style Projects on Facebook to get and share more reuse ideas.


Steps // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door
1 ×

Prep the Door

 
Step One // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Prep the Door

removing an astragal from a cabinet door with a cat's paw
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Use a cat's paw to gently remove any protruding nails. If your door has an astragal (shown), a trim piece to hide the gap between a pair of cabinet doors, pry it off to level the surface.

 
2 ×

Determine the Table-Leg Locations

 
Step Two // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Determine the Table-Leg Locations

marking locations for table legs
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Flip the door facedown, and measure where the legs will go: 6 to 8 inches in from the ends. With the legs in place, mark the screw holes.

 
3 ×

Bore Pilot Holes for the Screws

 
Step Three // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Bore Pilot Holes for the Screws

boring pilot holes for table legs
Photo by Ryan Benyi

The screw length should be slightly shallower than the door's thickness. I used ¾-inch wood screws. To keep from drilling all the way through the wood, wrap tape around the drill bit to serve as a depth gauge.

 
4 ×

Secure the Table Legs

 
Step Four // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Secure the Table Legs

securing and fastening the table legs
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Steady them in place and drive in the screws.

 
5 ×

Determine the Shelf Size

 
Step Five // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Determine the Shelf Size

measuring tongue-in-groove flooring to use as recessed shelving
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Fit together two tongue-and-groove floorboards. Measure and mark the width of the shelf bracket (12 inches) on the backs. The shelf should be shorter than the table top to give it a recessed look.

 
6 ×

Cut the Shelf Boards

 
Step Six // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Cut the Shelf Boards

cutting boards to use as recessed shelving
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Clamp the boards to a work surface, and use a circular saw to remove the exposed tongue or groove and rip the boards to the correct width. Now cut them to length.

 
7 ×

Secure the Shelf

 
Step Seven // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Secure the Shelf

securing the coffee table recessed shelving
Photo by Ryan Benyi

Fit the boards together and clamp them to the shelf bracket. Drill pilot holes, and fasten the boards in place with ½-inch wood screws.

 
8 ×

Apply a Protective Top Coat

 
Step Eight // How to Build a Coffee Table from a Salvaged Cabinet Door

Apply a Protective Top Coat

applying the top coat to a newly finished coffee table
Photo by Ryan Benyi

To help seal the wood and impart a soft matte sheen, rub on a natural wax-based conditioner. Reapply periodically to prevent drying and keep the table looking its best.

 
 
 

TV Listings

Find TV Listing for This Old House and Ask This Old House in your area.