Are you building a custom coffee table or wanting to replace the legs on your current one? DIY coffee tables bring a unique focal point that ties a room together and makes for a meaningful gift for a friend. Whoever you are customizing this table for, you will need to know how to design and create the legs that hold it up. This is why we combined our research to provide you with this step-by-step guide on how to make tapered coffee table legs.
The basic steps to making tapered legs for your coffee table are as follows:
- Decide what wood to use
- Draw layout lines/mark measurements
- Initial cut on your wood
- Position table leg on jig
- Add positioning cleats
- Finish sawing out leg
- First sanding
- Choose an edge detail
- Edge the feet
- Final/second sanding
Now you know the basic steps to making your table legs. Read on as we discuss each step in detail and explain how to get your finished legs onto your coffee table.
How To Make Legs For A Coffee Table
1. Decide What Wood To Use
To start your project, you'll need to purchase your ideal wood first. You can make things a bit easier by finding wood blanks that are straight, square, and a grain match to the wood of your table. Close-grained species of wood are better choices, such as mahogany or maple.
2. Draw Layout lines/Mark Measurements
Use a pencil to draw a layout design on your blank wood. The height for coffee table legs is typically 14" to 18". You need to also consider the diameter of your legs and the edge treatment.
3. Initial Cut On Your Wood
You will complete the first cut of your wood blank with a band saw. The cuts you make are not precise, you are removing the larger chunks of wood outside your layout design.
4. Position Table Leg On Jig
After the larger pieces of wood have been removed around your design, you can focus on the more precise cuts. Position your wood blank into a jig with the portion you want to remove exposed. Mark the position of your wood on the jig. You can purchase a jig or create your own.
6. Finish Sawing Out Leg
With your wood piece safely placed in the jig, you can now pass it by your blade. You will rotate your wood 1/4 turn until all sides are cut. At this point, you will have an almost finished tapered leg for your coffee table. You just need to worry about the fine details now.
7. First Sanding
Remove your tapered wood piece from the jig. The first sanding will be done to remove any band saw marks on your wood. You can use a hand plane, belt, or edge sander for this step.
8. Choose An Edge Detail
Picking an edge detail depends on what look you are going for and can be done in different ways. You can create a modern rounded edge using a router, a crisp look using your sandpaper, or a defined edge utilizing a block plane.
9. Edge The Feet
Whichever edge you chose for the sides of your leg will also be applied to the feet. This provides your leg with a finished look and protects the legs from chipping.
10. Final/Second Sanding
The last step in creating your coffee table leg is a final sanding. Using fine-grain sandpaper, go over the entire leg. Sand off any left pencil marks, scratches, or marks from transitioning between steps.
The video below showcases how to create a tapered table leg using a homemade jig:
Can You Use 2×4 For Coffee Table Legs?
You can absolutely use 2×4s for making coffee table legs. This is an inexpensive building material that can be found pretty much everywhere. There are some drawbacks to consider.
Depending on what kind of wood your 2×4 is, it may warp or twist easily. When you buy wood blanks, they are almost always treated and come in a square, straight shape. Two-by-fours may lack this consistency. With this in mind, using this wood is great for beginner woodworkers due to its cheap and easy-to-cut nature.
Learn more on our blog post: 13 Types Of Table Legs To Know.
What Angle Should Coffee Table Legs Be?
The angle of your coffee table legs really depends on what style of coffee table you are going for. A modern-style coffee table may have legs that are cut at a 15-degree angle. On the other hand, you may find some table legs that seem not to be angled at all, going down to the floor in a straight line.
Angled legs are argued to be more stable than straight table legs. Style and stability are what you need to consider when deciding on the angle, but there is no angle fits all requirement when making your coffee table legs.
Read more on our blog post: 11 Great Coffee Table Ideas For Small Spaces
How Do You Cut An Angled Coffee Table Leg?
Looking to create a modern look for your coffee table? Angled table legs will be the way to go. You will use the same steps we laid out for a tapered coffee table leg, but change some settings on your saw. Simple right? It is.
Your table or band saw should have angle settings that you can set to 15 degrees. If you do not have these settings, you can utilize a homemade jig. With either method, you will cut an angled slice from both the top and bottom of your wood piece.
The video below showcases how to create an angled table leg utilizing a jig:
Read more on our blog post: Do Coffee Tables and End Tables Have To Match?
How Do You Put Legs On A Coffee Table?
With your finished table legs in hand, you may be wondering how you will attach them to your table-top. There are multiple methods you can use to attach your legs. You can directly attach your legs to your table using screws, or you can use any of the following methods:
- Straight/angled metal plates
- Threaded inserts
- Straight/angled cleats
- Traditional mortise
- Mounting blocks
Each method has its pros and cons. Let's take a closer look at each.
Straight/Angled Metal Plates
In this method, metal plates are attached to the underside of the table-top, and a blot is placed partway into the table leg. After installation, the legs can be easily screwed in and out. Metal plates are great for small tables with thinner legs. If you are moving this table often or plan to put a lot of weight on it, you should use another method.
You may need to break out some more woodworking skills for threaded inserts, but it is worth it. These inserts are installed directly into the table-top and create an invisible attachment. This method should not be used with tables that have a metal base.
Cleats create a sturdy attachment and an aesthetically pleasing look. Your legs get attached at the ends of each cleat and are great for tables with a modern design. Cleats are not ideal if you want your attachments to be less visible.
If you are an experienced woodworker, this attachment method is for you. Using aprons or long boards, you will cut a tenon into each and interlock with mortises cut into the table legs. Keep in mind, this type of attachment cannot be disassembled once complete.
Mounting blocks are attached to the table-top using screws, and a bolt is installed into the table leg. These blocks are great for heavy load-bearing tables and tables that will be moved around frequently.
Making coffee table legs can be done in a handful of steps, and you only need a couple of tools. With a little time and creativity, you can create personalized coffee table legs for an eye-catching design. These legs can be straight, angled, tapered, curved, and more. We hope you found this guide useful when creating tapered coffee table legs, and perhaps you found some inspiration for your next project.
Looking for some ideas to complete your coffee table? Have a look at our blog post: What To Put On A Coffee Table [6 Great Suggestions].