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Thread: Lift top coffee table

  1. #1

    Lift top coffee table

    I'm in the design phase for a coffee/cocktail table for the family room. We entertain a lot so the idea of a pop up table surface seems like a great idea. Problem is I have never seen one in person. The idea of heading to IKEA isn't very appealing.

    My questions are has anyone ever built one?

    Are they stout enough or wobbly?

    Where do you source the lift mechanism. Rockler has one for $250, seems a bit steep.

    I'd appreciate any experience any one has with these.

    images.jpeg

    This (above) is just an example off the internet, but I do lean towards the craftsman style.

    20170419_180532.jpg

    This is the one I built for the living room upstairs so you can get an idea of the style I like. I would likely use a solid wood top for the new project.


    Thanks in advance for any thoughts or advice.

    Marty

  2. #2
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    I don't understand. A coffee table is usually knee-high or so. Why do you want to make it taller -- sometimes?

  3. #3
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    I think that Lee Valley sells a similar mechanism. -Howard

  4. #4
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    We bought a few years ago for the basement, along with a reclining loveseat. The idea was we could watch sports on TV and have the ability to raise the table up should we want to snack during a game. I mean, you can't leave the game just to eat.

    When we moved, the table was too new to leave behind so it came with us to Florida. It has been sitting in front of the couch for the last three years and we've become very used to it. Since there is no game room in the basement here (no basement) it is still our go to for TV sports snacking. It will soon be replaced when the live edge coffee table is done but I fear we're going to really miss it. I've toyed with using the mechanism for the live edge top but I don't think the springs are strong enough.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  5. #5
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    I think that many knee-high coffee tables hold the snacks while folks are watching TV. You’re sitting back in your chair or couch, and you lean forward to grab that slice of pizza or whatever. Or the remote sits on the table. Or, realistically, people’s feet rest on the edge of the table. I can’t see why you’d want it higher.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamie Buxton View Post
    I can’t see why you’d want it higher.
    So you can scoot right up to it and eat messy food without it dropping in your lap, or on the floor, or on the furniture. Maybe I need a bib.
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  7. #7
    I Got your point in the first post Jamie. I actually welcome negative feedback from anyone who has used or seen one. I never have and if they are flimsy or tippy or whatever I would love to hear it. There may be a reason why none of the "Fine Furniture" makers offer them.

    I felt the same way about it as Julie. That's why I asked.

    Marty

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by marty fretheim View Post
    I Got your point in the first post Jamie. I actually welcome negative feedback from anyone who has used or seen one. I never have and if they are flimsy or tippy or whatever I would love to hear it. There may be a reason why none of the "Fine Furniture" makers offer them.
    Marty, maybe there is some sort of woodworking "snobbery" (for lack of a better word) that keeps the lift top coffee table out of woodworking magazines. It's a very utilitarian type of table, usually designed more for function than form.

    The lift mechanism can support only so many pounds before it slams down when lowering, forcing you to help it down. You can't have too heavy a top on it. Yesterday I had my laptop and a few other things I needed on it. I could feel the difference as I raised and lowered the top. Still not enough to cause the top to slam down though. Add a few more items and it drops quickly. With nothing on it we have to push it the final few inches to seat it.

    The top on the one we have is manufactured wood - a fancy way of saying fake wood. And it's pretty light, though the base is fairly heavy. I have wanted to replace the top since we bought the table but there's always another project more important. But every time I consider replacing the top I've wondered about the weight of the new top.

    If you're going to go forward with your project, make sure you know the lift capacity of the mechanism. The weight of the top should be less than the maximum lift capacity. How much less depends on what might typically be on the table top when it's in the up position.

    The overhang of the top when raised is another factor that needs to be considered. You have to make sure the base is of sufficient weight to counter the weight of the overhang. Maybe the supplier of the lift mechanism has all that information. They should. It's certainly important.

    Good luck with this project!
    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness..." - Mark Twain

    Diapers and Politicians need to be changed often... Usually for the same reason.

  9. #9
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    Here is a link to the hardware to build a lift top table, sold by Custom Service Hardware. I don't have personal experience with it, but it is supposed work with a top weighing between 20-100 pounds. There is a downloadable pdf of instructions available at the link, which may provide more information. Again, I have no affiliation or experience with this; just found it online. Edit to add: their price is $169.

  10. #10
    Thanks everyone for the feedback. I'm gonna build it. My thoughts are if I don't like the way it turns out I can ditch the lift mechanism and mount the top in the traditional way. Richelieu makes a lift mechanism with either a spring or a gas strut depending on the weight. Thanks to Julie's advice the gas strut seems to be the best choice for me. It's just under a hundred bucks. Thanks Howard and Jon, those may be the same as Rockler's for much less.

    I'll post a thread when it's done. Maybe Jamie's right, cleaning pizza crust and stale beer out of the cushions after the Super Bowl is the way to go. Of course it could tip over and causes the disaster .

    Marty

  11. #11
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    We have an Ashley branded lift top coffee table and the lift top gets used regularly when people are eating in the living room. The lift mechanism is heavy duty and pretty stable. When lifted it can be flexed side to side a little bit but it takes some effort to do so.
    The table is on casters which really improves its usefulness for us.
    Since the top moves up and towards the seating the base of the table needs to be substantially heavy compared to the combined top and the lift weight.
    I looked into table lifts and the prices are all over the place.
    Like every other product out there the reviews for each one are all over the place.
    IMO a trip to a "good" furniture store to get eyes on the design is worth it.

  12. #12
    Thanks Charlie.

    Marty

  13. #13
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    After much digging I found it, Woodcraft magazine Oct/Nov 2017. This version has hardware that moves it up and closer to the couch instead of having to stoop over.
    Kevin

  14. #14
    Thanks Kevin, I'll check it out.

    Marty

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