Weekend Workshop: How to build a coffee table that’s also a universal TV remote

Need something to keep you busy this weekend? Look no further. The Weekend Workshop is our weekly column where we showcase a badass DIY project that you can complete with minimal skills and expertise. We’ve dug through all the online tutorials on the web, and gone the extra mile to pinpoint projects that are equal parts easy, affordable, and fun. So put on your work pants, grab your tool belt, and head to the garage. It’s time to start building!

A proper universal remote has the ability to solve a multitude of problems within anyone’s living room. Used to control a television, stereo system, Blu-ray player, and whatever else someone may have plugged in, its greatest skill is how it turns a handful of various remotes into a singular device. So instead of fumbling around with six different controllers before finally getting an HDTV to boot up, a simple press of the power button on a universal remote is all that’s required to cozy up to Netflix for the evening.

That’s the easy way to do it, at least. How about having some fun with your universal remote? Well, thanks to some clever DIY work from an Instructables user known as Gabrielle.Martinfortier, the tried-and-true universal controller has undergone an incredibly innovative makeover. Gone is the remote itself (sort of) and in place of the handheld device is none other than a basic, four-leg coffee table outfit with a batch of colorful arcade-style buttons. Sounds crazy, sure, but who do you know with a coffee table universal TV remote? This is as original a DIY project as they come.

To help you get started on this inventive project, we’ve sifted through Gabrielle’s Instructables walkthrough to see exactly what kind of tools and materials were used to pull off the build. As is the case with any project requiring the use of either a soldering iron, X-Acto knife, hot glue gun, or other potentially dangerous tools, it’s paramount proper safety gear like goggles and gloves are used throughout the process. We also recommend having a basic knowledge of each tool before jumping into the project as well. With that said, here’s what you’ll need to get started:


  • Soldering iron
  • X-Acto knife
  • Electrical tape
  • Wire cutter and stripper
  • Screws
  • Drill and drill bits
  • Scissors
  • Hot glue gun and hot glue


  • 12-13 arcade-style buttons
  • Universal TV remote
  • Wire
  • Solder
  • Planks of wood (2)
  • Adhesive velcro
  • Metal L brackets (4)
  • Piece of fabric (optional)
  • Flux (optional)

After gathering the necessary tools and materials, it’s now time to get working on this innovative universal TV remote. Simply follow Gabrielle’s comprehensive walkthrough and before the weekend’s up, you’ll have that arcade-style coffee table remote you’ve only ever dreamed about. Happy building!

The complete walkthrough for this DIY coffee table universal remote can be found at Instructables.

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