Rolling Coffee Table Built From Scrap

A rolling coffee table built from scrap and an ornamental carpet.
What You'll Need
Throw rug
Plywood or other scrap wood
Circular saw
4x4 lumber
4 table leg top plates
¼-inch hangar bolts
4 casters
¼-inch lag bolts
Sand paper
Clear polyurethane
Tempered glass

“Do you want this little throw rug?” my dad offered. I didn’t really have a place for it but, “Sure. I’ll take it.” What if I used the rug as the centerpiece for a coffee table? Given the amount of scrap I had lying around the only things I’d have to buy were casters and a piece of tempered glass.

Step 1 – Measure and Cut

Based on the size of the carpet (25 ¼ x 34 ¼-inches), I needed a table base and a frame. For the base, I cut a rectangle out of a trashed, old ping-pong table. I made it 7 ¼-inches longer and 3 ¼-inches wider than the carpet. (It’s possible you don’t have a scrap ping-pong table lying around, so use plywood.) Then I cut 4 pieces of plywood to cover the exposed ping-pong surface, and frame in the rug.

Since all the measurements are based on a rug that's not a standard size, there are a lot of fractions. It could have all been more even if starting with a standard element. You could easily adapt and build this around a Navajo blanket, a piece of tapestry or any other textile.

Step 2 – Cut and Attach the Legs

A good height for a coffee table is 18 inches, but remember we’re adding casters to the legs and we have to account for the thickness of the tabletop (1 ½-inches). The casters are 6 inches high, so cut 4 4x4 legs at 11 inches. On one end of each leg, mark the center point, drill a pilot hole and drive a ¼-inch hangar bolt into the center. This bolt is threaded on one end to screw into the wood. The other end sticks out with machine threading to screw into the bracket you’ll install into the bottom of the table.

Rolling Coffee Table Built From Scrap, table leg top plate

On the underside of the table, mark out the dimensions of the carpet. You’ll set the legs even with the carpet corners, so they’re inset from the edge of the table with the same proportions as the top side. Fasten a table leg top plate at each of the marked corners.

Screw the legs into the top plates.

Step 3 – Attach the Casters

With the table still upside down, set the casters on the bottoms of the legs and mark out the locations of the holes. Drill pilot holes for ¼-inch bolts. Secure the casters with ¼-inch lag bolts.

Rolling Coffee Table Built From Scrap, Justin DiPego

I used four locking casters, but you could use two locking and two without locks. Don’t skip the locks altogether, or the table will roll away when you put your feet up.

Step 4 – Install the Skirt and Shelf

The skirt will help keep the legs secure and give the table some visual weight. Cut 2 lengths of 1x6 to match the short distance between the legs (22 ¾-inches) and 2 to match the long distance (39 ½-inches). Screw the skirt in place.

If you want a shelf for remote controls, etc, cut a piece of lumber to fit between the front two legs. Attach it with brackets 6 inches below the tabletop.

Step 5 – Attach the Frame and Facing

Turn the table right side up and lay the carpet in place. Set the frame pieces over the carpet, so they pinch it in place. Screw them down to the ping-pong surface. Face the perimeter of the table, and the shelf, with a strip of plywood or other material to fill in and hide the edge where the frame meets the table base.

Rolling Coffee Table Built From Scrap, Justin DiPego

Step 6 – Sand, Stain and Finish

This is a tabletop, so it will get some rough wear. Sand everything and since it’s made of various kinds of scrap, stain it so it all matches. When the stain’s dry, finish it with at least 2 coats of clear polyurethane.

Step 7 – Install the Glass

When the poly is dry, measure the exposed area of the carpet. Take these dimensions to a glass shop and order a piece of tempered glass to fit (24 ½ x 33 ½-inches). It will cost a bit more for tempered, but you don’t want it to shatter when you set your drink down. I was surprised to find this only set me back around $30.

With the glass in place, you’re done. Of course, since this is mostly made from scrap, it can be adapted according to your available materials and your taste.