Main Project Top 5 Constraints: Folding Coffee Table


Finding an attractive piece of wood that is appropriately sized concerns me greatly. I have a number of saw mills and lumber yards to visit that may have what I’m looking for but even if I were to find the right piece of wood I must be careful when working with it. My chances of finding a second one like it are low and chances of affording another one are a bit lower.


In terms of money, I am not necessarily on an extremely tight budget but I would like to keep my gross budget at a maximum of $200. If the time comes for me to either sacrifice the execution of my project or spend more money, I will most likely spend the extra money to have a final product. The most expensive thing will be a sufficiently large piece of wood. I want my table to comfortably fit at least 4 people sitting around it while comfortably playing a board-game.

Limited Knowledge

The only wood working I have ever done was using a CNC machine to carve curvature and hand holds into pieces of wood to create a mustache-shaped climbing hang-board.

Although I did ultimately glue, sand, and stain the wood, I do not feel knowledgeable to shape my table from a large piece of wood by hand. I have some techniques in mind like drawing the pattern on the piece of wood to make it easier but I thankfully have the knowledge of my grandfather and my partner to help me with logistics.

I also need to look into types of hinges and learn how ironing boards work. Since sharing my original idea, I reconsidered the individually folding legs and would like to replace them with a collapsible, height adjusting mechanism that resembles the working of an ironing board.

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Since there are a lot of components to juggle while learning a new skill, I need to start promptly. The project is due at the end of April giving us at least 5 solid weeks of work. If I dedicate a day during the week and my weekends to this project I should be able to finish it on time. Once I sit and understand how to make the mechanism and have a hold of all of my materials, I will be able to begin assembling. For now, the first tasks on my list are to find measurements for the table top and legs, think about how the hinges will be attached, do research on hinges available, and get the wood and copper for the legs!


I don’t know if I want it to be clean and sleek or if I would like to give it a rustic edge. Feeding into my limited knowledge constraint, I worry I won’t be able to achieve a clean finish. Keeping a steampunk, edgy aesthetic in mind seems like a safer choice but in the end, I would like to produce something in between. Hopefully with enough attention to detail during fabrication, I will achieve a functional table to be proud of.



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3 Comments. Leave new

  • […] Roots: Constraints: Design Review Part 1: […]

  • Hey Nicole,
    Finding wood is sure a pain, but I think Home Depot would be your best bet, you can get the wood cut to your desired size. Plus you do get small lumber blocks there for cheap. For the folding mechanism, you can consider latching mechanisms for door, the pin mechanism lets two parts rotate around each other, or a small knuckle joint arrangement. It’s mostly made out of aluminum and you can screw it onto the wood. I think steampunk is a great idea as I’m pursuing it myself and I can help you with it too. Do let me know and I’m hoping to see a really cool table.

  • Justin Engbrecht
    March 4, 2020 10:17 pm

    Hello Nicole!

    I love the minimalist look of the featured image. I also think that copper would look great with dark wooden legs. I think if you can achieve a clean and sleek finish that would look excellent! Do you have a specific size in mind for the table, or will you determine that after finding the specific piece of wood that you will make the table out of?


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