Behind the Sofa Table/Shelf with Outlets and Cup holders

Whether you call it a sofa table or just a shelf this project is incredibly simple to build and adds both style and function to your living space.

We currently have a very long sectional in our living room and this blocks off any chance of plugging in our electronic devices when watching TV or working on our laptop or tablets. Also without a coffee table we have no place to set our drinks. And lets face it, with social distancing we have been enjoying a lot more drinks. To combat these problems I convinced my wife to let me build a table or as she calls it a shelf with both outlets and cup holders. Links to items used are included. These affiliate links help support this site and the projects you see. If you like this project please consider using the links for your supplies to help support future projects.

For this projects I needed a

Tools for this project

I measured the sectional and cut my the 1×6 into two section 32″. Make sure if you are on carpet you press the end of the measuring tape firmly down to capture the full height of the sectional, otherwise your table might night sit level. I then cut my 1×8 to a length of 104″. I cut the 2×3 into two 20″ sections and cut a 45 degree angle on each end.

Cutting the boards

After the boards were cut, I sanded each with my cordless palm sander. This can be accomplished by hand sanding, wrapping sandpaper around a scrap piece of wood. When sanding be sure to look at the board at an angle to ensure you have removed all of the milling marks. The 2×3 I used was a scrap piece leftover from a Halloween display. Since it had paint on it and was full of staples, I carefully removed the staples and ran it through my jointer to help clean it up before cutting.

Sanding the boards

After sanding I drilled pocket holes in the legs and then cut out the openings for the cup holders and electrical outlets. If you want to build this shelf you should put the outlets where they work best for you. I inserted one on the side leg so my wife could leave her laptop plugged in. The other outlet was centered so that it could be accessed by all positions on this part of the sectional. I also spaced out the cup holders to balance the look. Normally it is just the two of us on the sectional so I didn’t think it was necessary to have more cup holders. If necessary people can just set their drinks on the shelf.

When I cut out these holes I drilled a hole first to insert the saw blade. I also used a square to make sure the outlet was straight during install. In the video you can see where I cut two wide on one of the holes for the outlets. This was a easy fix with some wood putty and you cannot see it after staining.

Cutting holes in the shelf for electrical outlets and cup holders

After I finished prepping the boards, I applied 3 layers of the stain. Whiteboard will initially only pick out a light color with stain, while the grain marks and knots in the wood will soak up more of the stain. I let the stain sit for 15 minutes during each application. Each stain is different, the one I used required a wait time of 3-4 hours between applications. If you are doing this project you will need to find the color and number of applications that fit your style.

Applying stain to give the board color

After the stain was finally dark enough to match our furniture, I began assembly. Originally we were going to install a door on one end to store folding chairs behind the sectional. However since I was using 2x3s I decided to scrap the door idea since there would not be enough of an opening. I did offer to put some shelves on the end but my wife didn’t want more surface to collect dust.

Assembly was easy, each side is held on with three pocket hole screws and glue. I also attached the brace on each side. Since I only have 2 hands I clamped my square in place to ensure the legs were straight before screwing the braces on. The braces and the fact that the shelf rests on the back ledge of the sectional makes this table very sturdy.

Screwing pocket hole screws to connect two boards
Attaching a brace at a 45 degree angle to support the legs

To finish off the project I applied 2 coats of Minwax Polycrylic and insert the cup holders and outlets. The outlets are secured to the boards with provided screws.

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