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Teak Coffee Table


Teak Coffee Table

A retro table with sleek lines and soft edges

By Bruce Kieffer

With the resurgence of the mid-century Modern style in furniture, I thought I’d have some fun with this classic little coffee table. I used teak because it was the wood of choice for the Danish Modern style in the 1960s and 1970s. The same can be said for the round tapered legs and the soft, rounded edges and corners on the top.

The impressive, curved, solid-wood edging on the table looks more difficult to make than it is (see “Curved Corner Edging”). After the top is done, building the rest of the table couldn’t be easier. Just turn four round tapered legs, attach them directly to the table with screw on leg plates and you’re done.

I’ll show you a nifty turner’s technique for ensuring an even taper on each leg. If you don’t own a lathe, an alternative to turning is to make square tapered legs and use a 1/2-in. round-over bit on all four edges. Use a block plane and sandpaper to complete the round shape of the leg.


Make the top

1. Cut the tabletop (A, Fig. A, below), edging pieces (B, C and D) and splines (E, F and G) to size. Shape, fit and attach the edgings to the top as described in “Curved Corner Edging”.

2. Rout the round-over edges and finish-sand the top. Be careful on that veneer—it’s paper thin.


Turn the legs

3. Mill the leg blanks (H) and cut them 1/2 in. extra long. The extra length is used to hold the leg at the tailstock end of the lathe. You’ll cut it off after the leg is turned.

4. Before you turn the legs, make them hexagonal by chamfering the corners on a bandsaw or tablesaw. Removing the waste gives you a head start on turning squares into cylinders.

5. Mount a leg blank between the centers of your lathe. Turn the blank to a 1-3/4-in.-dia. cylinder with a roughing gouge.

6. Make a leg taper gauge from some MDF scrap (Photo 1; Fig. B, below). Lay out the leg taper and the 1/8-in.-wide parting diameter lines and cut the tapered profile on the bandsaw. Now you have a quick reference gauge for setting your calipers.

7. Turn on the lathe and hold up the gauge to the leg. With a pencil, transfer the parting lines from the gauge to the blank.

8. Use a parting tool and calipers to cut each groove to the proper depth (Photo 2).

9. Rough out the tapered shape of the leg using the bottom of the grooves as a depth guide (Photo 3). Finish shaping the leg using a wide, square nose scraper.

10. Smooth the leg with sandpaper and a sanding block. Part the leg deeply at the bottom. Use a handsaw to remove the bottom waste. Hand-sand the leg with the grain to remove cross-grain scratches.


Assemble the table

11. Drill 15/64-in. pilot holes in the legs and insert the hanger bolts (Photo 4).

12. Mount the angled leg plates (Fig. A, Det. 1, below). You may need to drill shallow relief holes in the underside of the table to accommodate the ends of the hanger bolts.

13. Apply two coats of clear satin varnish to the teak. Let the finish cure, thread the legs into the leg plates and you’re done.


(Note: Product availability and costs are subject to change since original publication date.)

Woodworkers Source,, 800-423-2450, Teak, 4/4; Teak, 8/4.

Buck Woodcraft,, 305-743-4090, Teak plywood, 3/4 in. x 24 in. x 36 in.

Lee Valley,, 800-871-8158, Screw-on angled leg plates, 5/16 in. x 18 thread, #00H33.80.

Woodcraft,, 800-225-1153, Hanger bolts, 5/16 in. x 18 thread x 2-1/2 in., #130238.

Local lumberyard, Poplar, 4/4.

Local paint store, Clear satin varnish.

Project Requirements

Cutting List

Fig. A: Exploded View

Detail 1: Leg Plate Positioning

Fig. B: Leg Taper Gauge

This story originally appeared in American Woodworker November 2005, issue #118.

November 2005, issue #118

Purchase this back issue.

Click any image to view a larger version.

1. Make round tapered legs quickly and consistently with the help of a simple taper gauge. Set your outside caliper to the parting diameters marked on this leg taper template.

2. Cut the grooves with a parting tool. Hold the caliper in the groove as you cut. You know you’ve reached the right diameter when the calipers pass through the groove. The bottom of each groove marks the profile of the tapered leg.

3. Clear out the waste between the grooves with a roughing gouge. Finish the leg with a wide, square nose scraper and sandpaper.

4. Screw a hanger bolt into the end of each leg. First, jam two nuts together on the end of the hanger bolt using a wrench on each nut.