Here's a simple coffee table I made out of an old, ratty stop sign and some birch plywood.
I was given a pile of old road signs a few years ago, which I have really enjoyed using for projects such as this one.
If you're interested in getting some old, used road signs (ahem, legally) for a project like this, I recommend asking small-town street departments. My experience has been that bigger cities actually take the time to haul them off to recycle, while smaller towns just throw their damaged and replaced signs in a pile somewhere. If you ask the right people, they'll generally be happy to let you haul off their trash. That's how I got mine!
The surface of this particular sign was relatively clean and flat, but had a lot of scrapes and stains from whatever it went through in its life. I thought the contrasting character between the abused old sign and the nice clean wood would be interesting.
It's a fairly simple design that should be easy to duplicate with some basic tools. If you make something similar, be sure to let me know in the comments. Thanks for taking a look!
Step 1: Layout Plywood
I wanted the design to be clean, simple, and modern, and not waste a lot of material in the making process. Overall, I think I met those goals.
I began by tracing the sign onto some 3/4" furniture grade birch plywood. The center was found by drawing lines across the layout, connecting all the corners.
A center circle was laid out, along with areas to be notched where the legs would fit in. Six legs were also laid out.
See photos for dimensions.
Step 2: Cut Out Pieces
All pieces were cut out using a combination of band saw and hand held jig saw with a fine-toothed blade.
Step 3: Clean Up and Prepare Wood Pieces
All pieces were rounded over on the router table and sanded smooth with 220 grit sandpaper.
The notched areas received some fine tuning with a small drum sander to ensure proper fit with mating pieces.
The lower shelf circle piece will be fastened to each of the legs from the underside with a single pocket screw and wood glue. The pocket screw holes were drilled at this time.
Step 4: Clean Up and Prepare Sign
I laid out holes around the perimeter of the sign, and pre-drilled these with a 3/32" bit. Each hole was then countersunk so the screw heads would be flush with the surface when installed.
Where the holes were drilled through the sign, small burs were left on the underside. These were quickly removed with a small rotary grinding tool.
I used an orbital sander with 80 grit sandpaper on it to ease the sharp aluminum edge all around the sign.
Step 5: Finish the Wood
The wood was finished with three coats of spray on lacquer. After each coat, all the pieces were sanded lightly by hand with 220 grit sandpaper.
After the final coat and sanding, all pieces were rubbed down with paste wax and buffed clean. This left an ultra-smooth, blemish-free finish.
Step 6: Assembly
Each leg was glued and screwed to the lower shelf through the pocket holes that were drilled previously.
The top wooden piece was added next. This was glued and screwed to the legs through the top side, with a single countersunk screw into each leg.
The stop sign was added last, with a couple beads of gorilla glue all around, and 5/8" screws through each of the pre-drilled holes.
Overall this was a very quick, fairly simple project. It goes together easily, and is rock solid and unique.
It gets a lot of compliments--some of them actually sincere. However, a few honest people have just come right out and said it's ugly!
Oh well. It's in my house, and I like it!
Step 7: Another Version
I also made a slightly taller version to use as an end table, but with an old crosswalk sign.
Questions and feedback are always welcomed. If you happen to make one, share a photo in the comment section. I'd love to see it!
Thanks for taking a look.