Acrylic coffee tables are all the rage right now in home decor. With their sleek, modern look and affordable price point, it’s no wonder these tables are popping up in living rooms across the country.
If you want to jump on the acrylic coffee table trend but don’t want to splurge on buying one ready-made, consider making one yourself! It’s a fun DIY project that doesn’t require expert-level carpentry skills.
This step-by-step guide will walk you through everything you need to know to make your own acrylic coffee table at home.
Gather Your Materials
The first step is getting all the necessary materials together. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Acrylic sheets – These are the “glass” part of the table. You can purchase sheets in clear or colored acrylic. For a coffee table, you’ll want a thickness of at least 1/4″ to provide sturdiness. Measure the size of the tabletop you want to determine how many square feet of acrylic sheets you’ll need to purchase.
- Table base – This provides structural support for the acrylic tabletop. You can use a ready-made metal base, repurpose an old table base, or make one yourself out of wood. Make sure it’s sturdy enough to hold the weight of the acrylic top.
- Adhesive – A strong adhesive specially formulated for acrylic is essential. Look for types like Weld-On 3 Acrylic Adhesive or Loctite Pro Line Plastic Bonder for the best bond. Avoid household glues that won’t adhere as strongly.
- Silicone caulk – Used to fill any gaps for a seamless look. Opt for clear silicone to avoid visible caulking lines.
- Screws – To attach the acrylic top to the base. Stainless steel screws are recommended to prevent corrosion over time. Purchase a drill bit slightly smaller than the screws for pre-drilling.
- Edge banding – Iron-on veneer edge banding can provide a finished look around the edges of the acrylic if desired.
- Sandpaper – Higher grit sandpaper (150 and above) to smooth any rough edges.
- Rag & cleaner – For wiping away excess adhesive and keeping the acrylic free of dust during the bonding process.
Cut the Acrylic Sheets to Size
Once you have all the materials, it’s time to start constructing the tabletop. First, carefully measure the size you want the table to be. It’s easiest if the acrylic sheets are cut to the finished size before adhering them together.
Use a ruler and pencil to mark the cut lines on the acrylic. Clamp a straightedge along the lines to keep the cuts straight. You can use a table saw or a circular saw to cut acrylic; just be sure to use a fine-toothed blade designed for cutting plastics. Take it slow to avoid cracking.
Also, cut out notches in the corners to allow for overlap in the joint between sheets. This will provide more bonding surface area.
Safety tip: Wear goggles when cutting acrylic to protect your eyes from flying particles. Work in a well-ventilated area and use a mask to avoid inhaling any acrylic dust.
Bond the Acrylic Sheets
Once all the pieces are cut, it’s time for the fun part – gluing! This is where those special acrylic adhesives come in handy. Follow the package directions closely, as dry times can vary by brand.
Apply adhesive to the edges of the acrylic pieces in a thin, even layer. Too much glue can cause oozing or fogging. Carefully line up the corners and press the pieces firmly together. Use clamps or heavy objects to apply even pressure as the adhesive dries.
Remove any squeezed-out adhesive with a rag before it dries. Allow the acrylic cement to fully cure for 24-48 hours before moving on to the next steps. Once bonded, the seams should be nearly invisible for a flawless tabletop.
Attach the Table Base
With the tabletop complete, it’s time to attach it to the base. First, check that the base is level. Shim it if needed to prevent rocking.
Drill pilot holes in the acrylic top aligned with the base. The holes should be slightly smaller in diameter than the screws to prevent cracking. Place the top upside down on a flat surface.
Then, apply silicone caulk to the screw holes and base to create a watertight seal. Flip over the top and securely screw it into place through the pilot holes. Remove any excess caulk squeezed out around the base.
Allow the silicone to fully cure for at least 24 hours before using the table. The caulk helps strengthen the bond between the top and base over time.
Finish the Edges
For a truly polished look, consider finishing off the exposed edges of the acrylic. Carefully file or sand any rough edges smoothly, taking care not to chip the acrylic. Wipe away dust with a dry cloth between sanding.
Once smoothed, you can leave the edges clear for a sleek transparent finish. For more visibility, apply edge banding to match or contrast your base color. Simply trim strips to fit each edge, peel off the adhesive backing, and firmly press them into place.
- Handle acrylic carefully and avoid placing it directly on hard surfaces to prevent scratches and cracks.
- Work in a clean, dust-free area to keep bonding surfaces free of debris.
- Let the glue fully cure before applying any weight or stress to joints.
- Acrylic can be wiped clean with a microfiber cloth and soapy water. Avoid using abrasive cleaners.
- Use coasters under drinks and placemats under dishes to prevent scratches and watermarks on the surface.
- Avoid exposing acrylic furniture to direct sunlight over time, as UV light can cause yellowing.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What tools do I need to make an acrylic coffee table?
You’ll need basic DIY tools like a drill, circular saw or table saw, clamps, straightedge, silicone caulk gun, and sandpaper. Specialized acrylic adhesives are also a must-have.
2. Is acrylic strong enough to use as a coffee table?
Yes, acrylic is very durable and impact-resistant, making it a great material for coffee tables and other furnishings when at least 1/4″ thick. Look for acrylic sheets made specifically for furniture.
3. Should I use tap water or denatured alcohol to clean acrylic?
Avoid using tap water, which can leave behind mineral deposits. Instead, use a mild soap and water mix or a cleaner made specifically for acrylic. Denatured alcohol can be used for tough stains in small amounts.
4. How do I get scratches out of my acrylic coffee table?
For minor scratches, gently buff them out using a fine grit sanding sponge in circular motions. Deeper gouges will require filling with an acrylic-compatible filler before sanding smooth. Prevent future scratches by using tablecloths and coasters.
5. Can I cement acrylic edges together without adhesive?
No, a specially formulated acrylic adhesive is required to chemically melt and fuse the pieces together for a permanent, water-tight bond. Do not attempt to glue acrylic with wood or household glue.
Building your own acrylic coffee table is a satisfying DIY project that results in stylish, contemporary furniture. With the right tools and safety precautions, the fabrication process is straightforward, even for novices. Be sure to follow acrylic adhesive instructions precisely for flawless results. The clear or colored finish options allow for lots of customization to match your room’s decor. An acrylic coffee table adds a splash of modern flair to any living space without breaking the bank!
Here are some additional tips when working with acrylic:
- Work in a clean environment free of dust to prevent debris from getting trapped between acrylic sheets. Wipe surfaces down with a microfiber cloth before gluing.
- Cut acrylic slowly and carefully to minimize cracking and chipping. Use sharp blades designed for plastics. Clamp pieces to keep them stable while cutting.
- Exercise caution when handling and transporting acrylic sheets to avoid cracks. Do not let acrylic panes drop or bend. Move pieces with two people if large.
- Allow full 24-48 hours for the acrylic adhesive to cure rather than rushing the bonding process. This prevents weak joints.
- Use a filler specifically designed for acrylics if gaps need filling for a flawless finish. Do not use wood filler which can show through acrylic.
- Consult manufacturer guidelines since not all adhesives work on all types of acrylic. Some formulas bond cast acrylic better than extruded.
- Smooth sanded edges carefully with increasingly finer grit sandpaper to prevent hairline cracks from forming.
Following these tips will help ensure your homemade acrylic coffee table comes out crystal clear and durable for years to come. Let your creativity shine through in the design!
Featured Image: istockphoto.com