Coffee Table Trunk

Coffee Table Trunk

Use Designer Nicole Gibbons’ step-by-step instructions for turning an old trunk into a new coffee table.

5 col

This project takes a used trunk and turns it into a coffee table that also doubles as hidden storage space.

Vintage trunk from a secondhand store or repurposed from home.
Wood stain
Spray paint with primer — Interior, color of your choice
(4) 4-inch table legs
(4) Triangular table leg top plates and screws
(2) Decorative metal handles
Drill with 1/16-inch drill bit
(3) Buttons of your choice
Needle and thread — thread color to match buttons
Repurposed curtains or fabric of your choice
1/2-inch batting
3/4-inch Plywood — sized to be 1/2-inch smaller than the trunk lid recessed interior
Phillips screwdriver
Construction adhesive
(2) Bar clamps


Outside the Trunk:

  1. Stain wooden trunk and four legs the color of your choice with a rag. Wait to dry before moving on to the next step
  2. To add legs, you will first need to turn the trunk over onto its lid. Place a triangular table leg top plate in each corner. Using the pre-drilled holes in each plate, drill pilot holes into the wood using a drill with a 1/16-inch drill bit. Attach each plate to the wood using their accompanying screws.

  1. The plates are pre-threaded in the middle. They are a standard size that fit all table legs. Screw the four table legs into the plates then turn the trunk right side up
  2. A handle will be added to each side of the trunk. Hold one of the handles up to the side of the trunk, centering it 2 inches from the top. Drill holes to receive handle hardware. Repeat for the second handle on the opposite side

Inside the Trunk:

  1. Open up the lid and place painter’s tape along the outside edges of the lid and trunk opening. This will protect the outside wood when painting the inside of the trunk

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Tip: Rub over the tape with your finger to make sure the tape is secure and the paint won’t bleed onto the outside of the trunk.
Spray paint the inside of the trunk, including the inside of the lid. Allow to dry and apply a second coat. Allow the second coat to dry

Tufted Inset:

  1. Now we will create the padded interior for the lid of the trunk. Eyeball and mark with a pencil a quarter, center and three-quarters along the middle of the plywood. These marks will be where the three accent buttons are placed
  2. Drill two small holes about 1/4-inch apart on either side of each mark from Step 7. This will be where the thread feeds through to secure the buttons in place
  3. Cut a piece of batting that’s 2 inches larger on all sides than the plywood
  4. Spread out your piece of fabric face down, and place the plywood on top. Cut the fabric around the plywood leaving at least 6 inches of excess on all sides
  5. Using a staple gun, staple the batting and fabric to the underside of the plywood. Space the staples 1 inch apart, pulling the fabric and batting taught as you go along. If there are any loose spots when you’re finished, go back and add additional staples. Trim off any excess fabric

  1. Thread a needle with 18 inches of thread and push it through one of the holes in the underside of the plywood. Push the needle all the way through the fabric on top and thread the first button. Thread the needle back through the second buttonhole, the fabric and through the second hole in the plywood. Thread it through several times to make sure the button is secure. Pull it as tight as can be, then tie the thread in a double knot on the underside. Repeat for each button

  1. Apply construction adhesive generously over the back of the padded plywood and press into the recess of the trunk’s lid. Hold in place with one bar clamp on each side and allow glue to dry for 24 hours before removing them

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