How to Build a 2-in-1 Coffee/Dining Table

A coffee table that becomes a dining table or a desk — in seconds!

Time

Multiple Days

Complexity

Intermediate

Cost

$251-500

Introduction

I’ve got a large family, and when we all gather it’s become tradition to haul a card table up from the basement and evict the coffee table to make more space for dining. Our next big get-together will be different. Instead of shifting furniture around, I’ll just flip up the coffee table legs and round up the kids!

Tools Required

  • 23-gauge pin nailer
  • Drill
  • flush-cut saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Miter saw
  • random orbital sander
  • Table saw
  • Tape measure

Materials Required

  • 1-1/2" x 4' piano hinge
  • 2" trim-head screws
  • 3/4" x 2" x 8' walnut board
  • 3/4" x 3-1/2" x 8' walnut board
  • 3/4" x 4' x 8' walnut plywood
  • Glue
  • jig knob set
  • pin nails
  • toggle clamps

A Vintage Project That Still Has Legs Today

The inspiration for this project came from an article Family Handyman published way back in 1956.

Family Handyman

Project Reimaged for Today

I thought the idea of a two-in-one table was brilliant, even for today. I used the same hinged-leg concept but updated a few key things:

  • The original article suggested using a door or solid wood for the tabletop. Plywood was available back then but in a limited range of options. Luckily for me (and you), we can now make projects faster, easier and often better with plywood.
  • In coffee table mode, this project looked awkward with its large overhangs and inward-tilted legs. So I tweaked the design and found that placing all eight legs on the floor gave the table a more balanced and unique look.
  • Since the legs will be swung in and out, I decided to build a half-lap joint instead of a miter, which would have to be reinforced. It also made assembling the legs much easier.

Project step-by-step (12)

Step 1

Project Reimaged for Today

I thought the idea of a two-in-one table was brilliant, even for today. I used the same hinged-leg concept but updated a few key things:

  • The original article suggested using a door or solid wood for the tabletop. Plywood was available back then but in a limited range of options. Luckily for me (and you), we can now make projects faster, easier and often better with plywood.
  • In coffee table mode, this project looked awkward with its large overhangs and inward-tilted legs. So I tweaked the design and found that placing all eight legs on the floor gave the table a more balanced and unique look.
  • Since the legs will be swung in and out, I decided to build a half-lap joint instead of a miter, which would have to be reinforced. It also made assembling the legs much easier.

Build up the Top

  • I started with a piece of walnut plywood cut to size. On the underside, glue three-inch-wide strips of the same plywood on the edges and pinned them into place.
  • Put one more three-inch strip in the middle and add two six-inch-wide strips to provide a mounting surface for the legs.
    • Pro tip: Doubling the top like this adds stiffness without too much additional weight.

Step 2

Bevel the Edging

  • The top is wrapped with edging to hide the plywood edges. Square edging would be fine, but I cut a 13-degree bevel on the edging stock. This bevel matches the angle of the legs and gives the table a more refined look.