Modern Plywood Coffee Table (Rockler Plywood Challenge 2018)

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

….Using only 1 sheet of plywood!!


Top View of Modern Plywood Coffee Table

Okay, so this modern coffee table is in my top 3 favorite things we’ve ever made. Yes…EVER…like since we bought our first saw and starting building things on our own. This was the first piece we were able to build that wasn’t for a practical purpose, but for the sole purpose of testing our creativity, skills, and eye for design.


For those of you who have never heard of the Modern Maker podcast, it’s a podcast created by Ben Uyeda (HomeMadeModern), Chris Salamone (Foureyes), and Mike Montgomery (Modern Builds). They discuss all sorts of topics pertaining not only to DIY modern furniture, but new ideas spurred by makers and content creators. Last year, they decided to start a competition within the maker community to see what people could make with one sheet of plywood – with the most creative idea winning the challenge! They partnered with Rockler, and it gained a TON of popularity on YouTube and Instagram.


So we started scheming as soon as we heard about the challenge. We couldn’t decide what direction to go – do we try to make as large of a project as we could and have almost no waste from the one sheet, or did we want to highlight the material itself? Do we make a piece of furniture or a piece of art? Do we want to make just one entry or several? After a day or two of thinking I asked myself, “What’s the coolest part of plywood?” The stripes of the layers on the side. “What’s a pattern or design that’s really IN right now?” That curvy Moroccan pattern and herringbone. That was it. Herringbone.


We decided that day that we wanted to make a herringbone design for a table top and incorporate metal hairpin legs to add to the eccentric modern look (and it was for a competition hosted by guys that specialize in modern furniture, so…ya know…we had that going for us, I guess).

We drew it all up in Google SketchUp so we could calculate how many strips we could get from one sheet while preserving enough material to make a shelf in the table for some storage. After that, we bought some 16 inch hairpin legs.