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It's a coffee table ... or a holiday dinner table.

If you're hosting this season's holiday gathering, you may be worried about where everyone's going to sit. You can solve the overflow graciously with this convertible table. Building it takes a weekend, average woodworking skills, and simple tools.

Designed by architect Lawrence Steiner of Portola Valley, California, the table (a door supported by two hinged leg units) spends most of its life at coffee-table height. When needed, the legs swing down, raising the table to its 30 1/4-inch height. Each L-shaped leg is composed of three plywood panels: one short, one long, and a stabilizing spine. Screws and fender washers secure legs in both positions.

Steiner surfaced and trimmed his door with parquet flooring and mahogany. We covered ours with cork and trimmed the top and legs with oak. You could also use plastic laminate, or stain and seal a hardwood-veneer door, trimming only the legs,

Materials and tools

Materials for our table cost just under $150. To make one, you'll need to buy:

* A 32- by 80-inch paint-grade hollow-core door for tabletop, about $25.

* A 4- by 8-fOOt Sheet Of 3/4-inch oakveneer plywood for legs, about $46.

* An 80-inch length of 36-inch-wide, 3/16inch-thick roll cork for top, about $3 a linear foot.

* About 26 feet clear oak (I by 2 in.) for trim, 95 cents per linear foot. (Hardwood dimensions vary. We used 3/4 by 1 1/2 in.)

Other supplies include a box of #6 finishing nails, ten 2-inch #10 screws, four fender washers, four 4-inch strap hinges with screws, 1 quart wood glue or contact cement, 2 quarts polyurethane, and wood putty You'll also need a screwdriver, hammer, nail set, utility knife, circular saw, drill, and miter box.

Making the table

If you don't have a large, clean work surface, lay a sheet of plywood across a pair of sawhorses.

First, mark oak plywood for legs into two 28 1/2- by 32-inch main panels, two 9 1/4 by 32-inch end panels, and two 9 1/2- by 27 3/4inch spines; align panels to maintain consistent direction of wood grain.

Before you cut the plywood, score lines with a utility knife to avoid splitting veneer, then cut using a fine-tooth plywood blade in a circular saw. Next, sand edges that will touch the floor to keep veneer from peeling when legs are folded up and down. Glue and nail leg pieces, butting joints as shown in the drawing at left.

On the underside of the door, draw a line across width to mark midpoint. Referring to the drawing and detail, center 3/4- by 3/4by 2-inch-long spacer blocks on the line, 3/8 inch from edge; glue and screw blocks into solid wood door edge, then drill holes for screws that secure fender washers that lock table in the low position.

Next cut oak trim for tabletop and legs. If mitering the corners, you should end up with two 81 1/2-inch lengths, two 331/2-inch lengths, four 10-inch lengths, and four 28 1/2-inch lengths (finished dimensions from outside of miter to butt end). You can simplify the project by butting joints. Glue and nail on the leg trim. Tack tabletop trim in place to ensure a good fit, then remove it and apply one coat of polyurethane to legs and trim.

To secure legs to tabletop, put door face down on clean surface. Mount strap hinges on end panels next to oak trim. Align each leg in the coffee table position, snugging legs up to center spacer blocks; screw straps to underside of table. Cut end spacer blocks (use scrap) to match thickness of hinge at pivot point. Glue blocks to door edge so they extend slightly beyond end panels when legs drop to dining position; drill holes through blocks into solid wood door edge to accept locking screws and washers.

Adding the cork

With utility knife fitted with new blade, cut sheet of cork slightly larger than door. If using wood glue, coat the door, lower the cork into position, smooth out bubbles, then weight evenly until glue dries (if using contact cement, apply it to both surfaces and allow to dry). To .help align the cork, lay scrap strips of wood between the door and cork, and then slowly withdraw them to lower the cork.

Once glue has dried, trim edges square with door. Then reattach table trim, gluing, nailing, and puttying holes. Also putty any gaps between cork and trim, then seal top with four coats of polyurethane.
COPYRIGHT 1988 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1988 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Nov 1, 1988
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