How to Build a Square Farmhouse Table – Woodworking


The first step to building a farmhouse coffee table is to do your research. With most house projects I start my research on Pinterest then Google/YouTube. If you are interested in following me on Pinterest here is a link to my pins. You can click the subscribe button below or this link to follow me on YouTube.

My wife had been asking me for quite some time to build a coffee table and I finally got around to it. Here is a list of everything you need to get your square farmhouse coffee table started.

Watch The Video




Step 1

Watch the video and download the plans.

What is the perfect size coffee table? That is a good question. I first thought it was 4ft by 4ft but then I realized I needed to think of the negative space in my living room. I discovered that 3.5 ft by 3.5ft would be the perfect size. The height of the coffee table is 19.5in. My legs are 4in x4in and the length of skirt on each side is 2ft and 7in.

Step 2

Organize your material

Farmhouse Coffee Table Lumber
Osborne Shanty to Chic Pine Coffee Table legs

Step 2

Drill the pocket holes. This went rather quickly. In the picture you can see where I screwed the bottom skirt into the leg.

Creating the pocket holes

Step 3

I later realized I didn’t compensate for the bottom shelf and later had to re-position the bottom skirt. You can learn more about this in my video here.

Step 4

Create your top

One thing you need to make sure of is that you have the proper amount of glue and screws. I wish I would have been more careful at this stage. What ended up happening is my lumber had not quite adjusted to my humidity levels and didn’t properly dry out. About 3 weeks later my top started to separate and shrink. This was very upsetting. Be sure that your lumber has been able to adjust to your home’s humidity levels (this will be different for everyone). This is something I prepped for but should have take more precautions. To avoid the humidity issues that I experienced I would recommend the following.

  1. Make sure where you are storing your lumber has low humidity
  2. Purchase a Humidity Meter Gauge Monitor

The biggest problem with changes in MC is that wood shrinks and swells. As a rough rule of thumb, wood shrinks or swells 1 percent in thickness or width when the wood changes by 4 percent MC. Some species, like oak, shrink a little more; some, like teak, shrink less. Another problem with changes in MC is that gluing and machining are likely to be more difficult, especially if the wood is drier than desired. Further, if the MC is wrong, then it is likely that the finished product may shrink in use, resulting in cracking, finish failure and warping.

  • 30 percent RH = 6 percent EMC (typical wintertime interior condition)
  • 50 percent RH = 9 percent EMC (typical maximum summertime condition)
  • 65 percent RH = 12 percent EMC (typical outside condition, summer and winter)
  • 80 percent RH = 16 percent EMC (typical outside coastal condition)

In short, it is critical to store dried lumber at the correct EMC at all times. Short deviations of a day or two are permitted, but then the wood must be returned to the correct EMC. What is the correct EMC? It is the same EMC that your customer will have in their home or office. For most of North America, this is an EMC of 6 percent in the wintertime and 8 percent EMC in the summertime. Coastal climates will have higher EMCs and dry desert or mountain climates will have lower values. (source link)

Step 5

X marks the spot. Make sure you measure the area where the base leg is going to fit. I simply flipped my table upside down and drew a line around the base leg and marked the area that needed to be cut out with an “X”. The reason I did this was because nothing is perfectly square and I wanted to make sure I had the best fit possible. I then used my jig saw to cut the corners out and then test fit the other boards in the base of the farmhouse coffee table. You can see how they fit in the picture below. Before installing the base I put in a bottom brace to support any weight being placed on the bottom shelf of the coffee table. I then used wood glue and my nail gun to secure it to the bottom skirt. Then I used my nail punch to make sure there were no nails sticking up.

Step 6

Distressing is a very popular thing right now. It is a rather simple process that if done correctly can really add that touch of warmth and personality to your work. Back in college I studded color theory and to understand how something gets worn you first need to realize that anything that is very old has been handed down from generation to generation and more than likely gotten a makeover from its previous owner.  Over time that piece of furniture has gotten warn out and the edges have show their age and exposed what I consider its history. The worn edges usually do not display bare wood but the many undercoats and colors the piece of furniture has had in its past. This is what makes it unique. To mimic this you must first paint your new freshly exposed wood with a dark undertone or any undertone color you wish to expose. I chose dark brown to match the other color accents in my living room.

Once the white paint dries you take a 320 grit sand paper and gently sand the edges of the coffee table. Use your creativity and think of how the piece of furniture would naturally wear after decades of use. There is really no right or wrong way or place to sand as long as you go with the grain.

Step 6

I used Early American stain for the top of the coffee table. I then applied an oil based polyurethane. Looking back I wish I would have used a water base because clean up would have been much easier. 

Step 7

Installing the Farmhouse coffee table in my living room was the best part of this build. I loved seeing how my vision came to life and fit in with my wife’s decor. I am very pleased and happy with how it all turned out. It fit perfectly and everyone including my kids liked how it fit in the room.