Faux Inlay Mid Century Coffee Table DIY

This week, I’m proud to say, I finished a project that has been on my to-do list for over a year. You may remember this plan from a Thrift Score Thursday find from way back in April of last year. I found this little table with hairpin legs at a Habitat Restore for just $15. The top was made out of an old hollow core door that had seen better days,

but the hairpin legs were pretty fabulous and well worth the $15 price tag. I bought the table intending to build a new top for it so I could use it in our old living room. But time passed, we moved, I found a different table for the living room and there it sat.

Until now, when I finally decided it would work great in my daughter’s room and found the time to rebuild this old table.

My daughter wanted a big table to do her homework on so I started with a nice piece of 1/2″ birch plywood I cut to 38″ square.  I trimmed around the edge with some 1x boards to give it support and a place to attach the legs.

I then attached the legs so it would be easier to work on the top were planned to do a ray design in stain.

For the design I started with a point slightly off-center. I uses painter’s tape to mask off ray shaped sections one or two at a time, terminating each section at the point.

If you want to lay out your pattern ahead of time on paper you can but I just eye balled mine as I went.

I applied a very small amount of stain to a cloth and rubbed it into the wood. You want to buff the stain in like a polish rather than apply a large amount to prevent bleeding under the tape.

I then moved around the table creating a random pattern of different size rays in different colors. You may have to allow some wait time in between colors so the tape will stick to the areas you have already stained.  I ended up with five colors in all, on being the natural color of the wood. I let the natural color be the most prominent and then created three rays in varying sizes of each of the stain colors.

Now to frame out the top for a finished look.

Using 1×2″ stain grade pine I cut a mitered frame to fit the table top.

I stained these pieces and then attached them with my nail gun all the way the top.

Once it was all together I gave the whole thing a light sanding to give it a bit of a distressed look.

Then two coats of semi-gloss polyurethane for a warm glossy finish. (Sanding between, of course!)

Once it had a chance to dry I moved it upstairs

Now with a new top and a new home these pretty hairpin legs have a new life.


  1. Debbie says:

    This is beyond fabulous!

    • Thanks Debbie, This idea has been floating around in my head for quite a while. I’m proud to say it came out every bit as good as I had imagined (proud to say because that is not always the case :/ )

  2. Sharon says:

    Good job!…Looks wonderful!

  3. Roxanne says:

    Wowza! Can’t believe that is a DIY project, it looks very high end!!

  4. Kellie says:

    Looks great! I want to move into that bedroom!

  5. Karen says:

    So good—wow!!

  6. It’s so great when things turn out the way you imagined! 🙂

  7. Julia@Cuckoo4Design says:

    It turned out so great! And I’m also obsessed with the cat pillow!!!

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