How to Make a Functional Behind-the-Sofa Table

how to build a sofa table

 

Many people have a problem, where no matter how they arrange their furniture, there will always be one electrical socket hidden behind the sofa. Also, many people dislike having their sofas right up against the wall but also dislike having a giant unnecessary gap. The solution to all of these problems is a narrow table behind the sofa — a sofa shelf.

These long, thin tables provide extra storage while taking up minimal space. They add a bit of order to the room. If you build one with an electrical outlet, you have a great space to charge your phone or laptop. As with many woodworking projects, the scope of the project will all depend on your particular skills and tools.

 

Building a behind-the-sofa table is probably easier than you’d expect, even if you factor in the additional work of adding in an electrical outlet. Chezlin has an excellent video guide on how to make a behind-the-sofa table that looks great and is easy on the wall. It also doesn’t require scarce and esoteric specialized tools, so even woodworking novices should be able to give this project a try.

You can even see the types of mistakes people commonly make, so you can also aim to avoid them and make mistakes of your very own. There are hundreds of sofa table designs online, so if you’re not too impressed by this one, or want to try something more challenging, take a look online and find a plan that fits your needs.

 

 

What You Need

 

Lumber (adjust these measurements according to your particular sofa length):

  •   1″ x 8″ x 8ft board
  •   1″ x 8″ by 6ft board
  •   Three 2″ x 2″ by 8ft boards

 

You’ll also need:

  •   Pocket hole jig and pocket hole screws
  •   Electric drill
  •   Ruler or measuring tape
  •   Pencil
  •   Jigsaw
  •   Wood glue
  •   Orbital sander, or sandpaper
  •   Stain
  •   Gloves
  •   Wood finish
  •   Desktop outlet hub

 

Step-By-Step Breakdown

(Screenshots via Chezlin.)

 

1. Measure and cut the boards to size.

The length of the boards will depend on the desired length of your final behind-the-sofa table. For this guide, let’s assume you want a final table length of 85″.

In that case, measure your boards to the following dimensions:

  • 1″ x 8″: 85″
  • 1″ x 6″: 2 pieces of 27 ¼”
  • 2″ x 2″: 2 pieces of 83 ¾”
  • 2 pieces of 25 ¾”

 

If you want a custom length, have the longest plank be that length. Subtract 1 ¼” for the two thin pieces and keep the other lengths the same. If you want the table to be shorter or higher, again, have the 1″ x 6″ planks cut to that length and the thinner boards cut 1.5″ shorter than that length.

Cut these lengths using a saw. If you don’t have a saw, you can also ask your local lumber supplier to cut it for you.

 

 

2. Drill holes into the boards.

Use a pocket hole jig to drill two holes in one side of the 27 ¼” boards and one hole on each end of the 83 ¾” and 25 ¾” pieces. Do a couple of test runs with the pocket hole jig to ensure that your angle and depth are correct.

 

 

3. Drill a hole for the electrical outlet.

If you don’t want an electrical outlet for your table, you can safely skip this step. If you do want one, start by tracing the outline of the small end of the electrical outlet in the 85″ board. Then flip the outlet over and trace around the larger end as well. This step will give you a good idea of how far you can cut without making the hole too big for the outlet. Always err on the side of caution when cutting holes, you can always make it bigger, but it’s challenging to make it smaller.

 

 

Use a drill to drill an initial hole the size of the jigsaw blade. Make sure to make this hole inside the guidelines that you drew before.

 

 

Then use a jigsaw to cut out the rest of the hole. If you don’t have a jigsaw, there are specialized electrical outlets that come with their installation instructions.

 

 

Remember to do a test fit to ensure that the outlet fits snugly.

 

4. Assemble the table.

Use wood glue and pocket hole screws to join the top piece to the two side pieces. If you have a clamp, this will make the assembly significantly more manageable. If you don’t, it may be a good idea to enlist the help of a friend to hold the construction steady.

 

 

After the table is steady, attach the two thin, long pieces to the bottom corners of the table. Start by applying wood glue and then screwing it in using standard 2″ screws.

 

 

The final bit of assembly is to add the two short, thin pieces at the sides to offer some additional support to the center of the table. Again, use wood glue and screws to secure the pieces.

 

 

5. Sand and stain.

Sand the table down to remove any rough edges and make the table smooth and ready for a stain. Remember to use a dust mask to avoid inhaling the dust. You can use sandpaper for this, but an orbital sander makes the job much easier and faster.

 

 

Once you’ve sanded the table, clean it with a damp cloth to remove any residual dust. Then apply whatever stain catches your fancy. When using a stain, make sure to wear protective gloves. Apply the wood stain in the direction of the grain and ensure to wipe off any excess. Let the stain dry entirely and apply a second coat if necessary.

 

 

After the stain has completely dried, add a coat of polyurethane to seal and protect the wood. Let this dry completely before continuing. If you opted out of the electrical outlet, you could proceed to install and enjoy your new table.

 

6. Install the electrical outlet.

Start by first placing the outlet in the hole you drilled out.

 

 

Thread the bottom piece until it sits comfortably and securely in the table.

 

 

Align the outlet in the direction you want it and then secure it with screws from the bottom. Use short screws, such as ¼” screws to prevent the screws from breaking through the top of the table.

 

 

7. Install the table.

Place the table where you want it, hook up the electrical outlet, and then place your sofa flush with your new table.

 

 

You can now style it any way you want, and you can enjoy the extra space and convenience of an electrical outlet within easy reach.

 

Conclusion

A behind-the-sofa table is the perfect piece of furniture to squeeze out every inch of space from a room. It’s unobtrusive and can give you a lot of extra storage space. Also, if you’ve been struggling with reaching an outlet behind a sofa, you can easily add an outlet to your table, giving you power within easy reach.

Tables, in general, are relatively easy woodworking projects, particularly if you’re happy with flat legs. And what’s great is that you can add as much complexity to the project as you want. You can add decorative touches and design it to fit in any space. Whether you’re a novice or have been working with wood for decades, this project is a great way to add a useful piece of furniture to your home with minimal fuss and effort.

 

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