Mike Muzio Makes a Coffee Coffee Table
You can learn how to make one, too, by watching his YouTube video instructions.
Photo by Mike Rosati
The coffee table has been long been overdue for a makeover. Thankfully, Alameda “maker” Mike Muzio realized this and recently brought the world the coffee table made entirely, wait for it … of coffee. Or more accurately, coffee grinds (and from Alameda’s The Local no less). Muzio made it by pouring coffee grinds into a frame made from epoxy, known as glue to civilians. An instant success, the art object even made its way on to the television show Right This Minute. The sturdy table isn’t Muzio’s first foray into the world of DIY projects. For the past three years, the 58-year-old retired garbageman (he prefers “garbologist”) has been sharing his projects with the world via his YouTube channel, The Muz Shop. Part retirement project, part serious avocation, Muzio has made over 60 videos of his projects. In his newfound persona, Muzio has bonded not just with the local maker community, but also with those who embrace the lifestyle worldwide, all from his well-appointed Alameda garage work
The “coffee” coffee table didn’t work out perfectly the first time. How often do you have to go back to the drawing board with a project?
I’m the kind of person that over-thinks stuff, so I’ll go through my head and make sure I’m doing it right. I try not to make mistakes, but they happen, and what are you going to do? A mistake isn’t all that bad when you can just grab another piece of wood and do it again. Well, I can’t go to Home Depot and get an epoxy frame filled with coffee grinds.
True dat. We all drink too much coffee. Now you’ve taken it to the next level. Any of your other DIY projects creating a buzz?
Your basic knife block for the kitchen. That’s probably my most watched video. That’s got like 55,000 views. I made it as easy as possible so that your beginner woodworker could do it. I actually had three different endings for it. I said OK, here’s the knife block. You got to this point, it works. You can put your knives in it. You can stop right here if you want. But for those of you who are a little bit more advanced, we can go to another step and cut a 30-degree angle on it. And it’s like your normal knife block wood that you can slide them in from an angle. The other step was you could then chamfer all the edges so it looks a lot nicer.
Everybody loves a little chamfer action. What does it mean to be a maker?
A person who just likes to make things. That’s the bottom line. Making videos and throwing them out there on YouTube, that’s one level. But it could be making a mailbox. You made something. There’s a lot of guys in the maker community that have license plates that say “make it.” That’s basically it. I don’t think there’s any plateau you have to cross to become a maker. You can make paper airplanes. You don’t have to do a YouTube channel. You could also get into that high-tech stuff. There’s guys who are doing 3D printing. There’s so many levels.
Would you want to have the Muzio “coffee” coffee table available on Wayfair?
I’m not going to make coffee tables and sell them — I can tell you that right now. If I make something, and I put a video out there — it could be a fancy looking rolling pin — and people say you should make 20 of those and sell them, not knowing how long it takes and how much is involved. What am I going to sell them for, like 20 bucks? I did that in the past and what happens, since this is my hobby and this is my passion, it becomes a job, and it becomes work, and it just ruins it for me. I’m not going to sit in the garage and make 50 ornaments per day and sell them for like 7 dollars. Most the stuff I’ll give as a gift. Or, maybe the idea came because this guy wanted something and I made it and gave it as a gift. That’s more rewarding than if I was to open up a booth. I just can’t do it. Like I said, it just becomes a job, and I’ve tried it, and just for me, I end up not wanting to do things anymore.
But what if you ended up on Shark Tank with the coffee table? Would you consider an offer to take your invention worldwide if you didn’t have to build every one in your garage?
Well, see, now if that happened, if they were going to mass produce it and find a company to do it, OK, I’m good with that — as long as I don’t have to be in my garage pumping out 10 of these a month. For me, a lot of these guys who try to get on YouTube and make a living off of it, it becomes a lot of work, because it takes a lot to actually become a successful YouTuber.
For me, I’m already retired and I have the retirement money coming in, so it’s not my primary thing that I have to have make money off of this to live. So it becomes more of a fun hobby. Now I’m trying to get to the point that I do get some money coming in to help for the shop, buy some sandpaper and maybe some more tools. And it’s getting to the point right now that I actually do get a couple bucks from YouTube.