The glass top of this coffee table had broken long ago but the pine frame was solid, so we re-made it into a table to display collections.
Before You Start
Step 1: Sand Back Frame
Step 2: Apply the Stain
Step 3: Drill Holes for Shelf Pins
Step 4: Install the Panel
Step 5: Create the Display
Step 6: Install the Glass
Produced by Darryl Chapman
A base was made by cutting a 1/2-in. MDF panel to 18 1/2-in. x 42 1/2-in. to allow a 1/8-in. clearance all round, and covering it with felt and cotton cloth.
Toughened 1/4-in.-thick Starphire clear glass was cut for the top. It's lead-free with low iron content, which eliminates the greenish tinge of traditional glass.
The base and glass are positioned on plastic shelf support pins, about $4 for a pack of 12.
Use a finish sander fitted with 80-grit sandpaper to remove the old finish, working over all surfaces. Repeat with 120-grit, then 180-grit, finishing with a 240-grit aluminum oxide sanding disc. Wipe away dust with a cloth and mineral spirits.
Apply the gel stain, wiping back with dry cloth and controlling the color depth by rubbing off or adding more stain. Apply three coats of polyurethane, waiting a day between coats and hand sanding with 320-grit sandpaper before each coat.
With a marking gauge, mark inside the top of the frame, 3/8-in. from the bottom edge to drill 1/4-in. holes, 3/8-in. deep and 10-in. apart, for brown plastic shelf pins. Repeat for the glass pins, 3/8-in. from the top edge of the table.
Position the shelf support pins around the bottom edge. Cut 22-1/2-in. x 46-1/2-in. thin gray felt to stretch over the base panel, securing to the back with 1/4-in. staples. Cut cloth to the same size to layer over the felt, securing at the back with staples.
Arrange items no taller than 1-in. over the base panel. The key to a three-dimensional display is to use objects of different heights to create various levels. Cover the panel with a flat background of patterned fabric, wallpaper, photos, an old map or newspaper, sheet music or even sewing patterns.
Group objects by color or theme, using souvenirs, shells, or memorabilia such as old medals, buttons, teaspoons, postcards or sporting trophies.
Check out these sample displays below: fabric and lace is a nostalgic background for memorabilia (first image); geometric layers of frames within frames (second image); and foam raises paper butterflies for 3D shadow over wallpaper (third image).
Position clear plastic pins in the holes around the top of the frame and lower the glass.
To rearrange the display, lift the glass with a plastic paint scraper or wood shim.
© 2012 Reiman Media Group, LLC.