I hope if you’re looking at this post it means you love puzzles! If you do you need this puzzle table in your life! There was a period of time when I had to stop doing large puzzles. When you have small kids or grandkids it can be so hard to finish a puzzle before tiny hands come wanting to “help”. I love my kids, but I can’t tell you how many times I was almost finished with a puzzle only to find a few pieces mysteriously missing or half chewed up. Gross.
I tried to find other solutions. At my mother-in-law’s house we used the board method. We put a large bulletin board on the kitchen table to work on a puzzle. Then we had to find another place to put it where said children couldn’t get to it while we ate dinner. What I really needed was a puzzle table!
I scoured the internet and pinterest for a DIY version of a puzzle table. I found a lot of expensive versions to buy and complicated versions to build. I knew I didn’t want drawers because kids still get the pieces. And hinges make it easy for exploring children to smash fingers. Then I found this beautiful DIY coffee table with hairpin legs. I was in love! But it still wouldn’t work for a puzzle table. But maybe there was a way I could turn it into a table top! The idea was born.
I went to work designing this coffee table and I have to say, I love the results! And the design inside is completely customizable. You could do angled boards or even a herringbone pattern! The top comes completely off, so you could even let the young ones do their own puzzle while the top is on the ground, and you can work on your puzzle in the base of the table!
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What you’ll need:
4 – 1×6 @ 8 ft long
2 – 1×3 @ 8 ft long
2 – 1×2 @ 8 ft long
1 Sheet 4’x8′ masonite board
1 1/4 inch pocket hole screws (truthfully I used regular screws and it was fine)
Brad nailer and 1/2 nails
8 – 1×6 cut @ 32″
2 – 1×3 cut @ 32″ on a 45 degree angle (32″ is the inner edge)
2 – 1×3 cut @ 43 3/4″ on a 45 degree angle (43 3/4″ is the inner edge)
1 – 1×2 cut @ 43 1/2″
1 – 1×2 cut @ 30″
1 masonite board cut at 43 1/2″ x 31 1/2″
First, cut your 1×6 boards into lengths of 32″. When you have all of them cut lay them out to make sure they all fit snugly. You may have to adjust the order to get the best fit if your boards didn’t start out perfectly square. *Tip. Make sure you pick the straightest boards you can find at your local home improvement store or lumbar yard. In my experience Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t always have the most reliably straight boards.
Once you have them in the order you may want to label the boards to get them in the right order after putting the pocket holes in. Then drill 4-5 pocket holes on each long edge and two on each end. I definitely recommend the Kreg Jig K5 to help drill the pocket holes. For years I had the very basic Kreg jig and it got the job done, but it took 3-4 times longer. For each hole you have to attach it to your board with a couple of clamps and even still I often got movement. The K5 makes it so quick and easy.
Next, put the boards back in order and screw them together. You should put a bead of glue between each joined edge. For some reason I didn’t do that this time. I was probably being lazy and trying to get this done between naptimes. *Tip. Make sure you drill the screw in enough to get the boards snug but don’t drill it in too far or you risk the screw poking through the back side. This is less of a risk if you use pocket hole screws rather than regular wood screws.
Once the top is screwed together it’s time to get sanding and fill any cracks with stainable wood filler. Don’t forget to sand underneath! I recommend starting with a mid grit sandpaper. Something like a 180 grit should be fine. Once your top is completed you can give it a final sanding with a 400 grit sandpaper.
Once you have the main top sanded it’s time to add the 1×3 edge. There are two ways you can do this. You can measure each edge and make that number the inside edge of your 45 degree angle or you can lay your top down on the ground, put your 1×3 right up to the edge and mark the board at each end of the table top. Use that mark as the start of your 45 degree angle. That’s the method I used.
I wish I had a better angle of screwing the edge on. Hopefully you get the idea. Lay the board upside down. (Make sure you have a smooth surface to lay the top on otherwise you’ll get dents in it) If you have large clamps you may want to clamp the board to the table top. If not then do your best to keep the board held tightly against the top.
When you have the edges all screwed on flip it over. Then you’ll fill any gaps with stainable wood filler, let it dry then sand it down. After it’s sanded down you can stain it with your favorite wood stain. I used a mix of Minwax Classic Gray and Special Walnut.
To make the base you want to start with the masonite board. I preferred the masonite over plywood because it has a smooth surface that makes pluzzling easy. If you bought your supplies at Home Depot or Lowe’s they will normally cut it for you if you ask. Or you can cut it yourself using a table saw or a circular saw.
Before you get too involved in making the base I would do a quick check just to make sure your board still fits in the table top. You don’t want to go to all the trouble of making the base only to find that for some reason your board doesn’t fit for some reason. Don’t ask me how I know that!
When you’re sure your base will fit cut 2 of your 1×2 boards at 43 1/2″ and 2 @ 30″. You’ll also want to stain your boards now if you want them stained. I stained mine, but since they will be covered by the edge of the table top it won’t be seen until you have the top off. Lay your boards out and clamp them to the masonite board. Flip the base over and use your brad nailers to put some nails through the board. If you don’t have a brad nailer you could hammer some finishing nails in or even put in some small screws. I’m all about using what you have already to make it work!
After you have them nailed on you’ll probably also want to put a couple nails in the end where the two 1x2s meet.
Your corners will also be secured together by the legs so it’s just an extra precaution. Get ready, you’re almost done!! Flip that puppy upside down. It’s time to put the legs on! Adjust the legs so that the holes line up with your 1x2s. You want your screws to go into the wood and not be exposed!
Once you’ve got the legs on it’s time to flip it over and admire your work!!
At this point I would recommend taking the extra time to protect your work by adding a couple coats of water-based polyurethane, at least to the top of the puzzle table. I like the matte finish. I actually didn’t do that in time before my kids colored all over it. At some point I’ll sand it back down, restain it and then put the polyurethane on. DON’T MAKE MY MISTAKES!!! Haha. Either way it will be a beautiful! If you make it I’d love to hear how it turned out! Thanks for stopping by!!