Old whiskey barrels can be recycled and turned into amazing furniture for your home or business. In this tutorial I will walk you through the process of building a whiskey barrel coffee table. I had a blast creating the table and it was a pretty simple and quick build.
Whiskey Barrel – Between $25 and $200 depending on where you find it.
Lumber – Approximately $40
Screws – $12.00
Kreg Jig - For building table top
Miter Saw – A hand saw will work but a Miter Saw will make the project go quick!
Jig Saw – Used for creating the base (You can use this to cut the barrel in half if not pre-cut)
Rubber Mallet and Pry Bar – Used to remove metal bands and flush up boards.
Reciprocating Saw - (Can use to cut barrel in half if not pre-cut.)
Table Saw – Optional
Circular Saw – Optional
1 1/4 inch Kreg Jig Screws
Chest Lid Support
3 inch, 1 1/2 inch, and 1 inch wood screws
220 Grit Sandpaper
Stain ( I used “Special Walnut” from Minwax)
Polyurethane (Minwax) – To help protect the table top
1×4 - QTY 1 Length: 10 feet (Used for table apron)
2×12 - QTY 1 Length: 6 feet (Used for table base)
1×3 or 1×2 – QTY 1 Length: 6 feet (Used for decorative base pieces)
1×8 – QTY 2 Length 8 feet (used for table top)
Where to find a whiskey barrel
You have a few different options for sourcing a whiskey barrel. First, I’d recommend contacting local whiskey distilleries or wine vineyards in your area. Second, search Craigslist or put a wanted ad up that you are looking for a whiskey barrel or wine barrel to make furniture out of. Ebay is also a great place to check, as well as Amazon. I’ve had friends order this barrel off Amazon which is $99 + $100 shipping. It is a full barrel so you would need to cut in half. You’d be able to make two tables with it. Finally, farm and garden stores sometimes will carrie barrels or half barrels used as planters. Check out stores like Murdochs or Kenyon Noble if you have them in your area.
I found a few barrels locally in Montana from a super nice guy who was selling them on Craigslist. I feel like I got a great deal because I paid $100 for the full barrel and $25 for the pre-cut half barrels. If you get a full barrel you’ll need to cut it in half using a jigsaw or sawzall.
Use a prybar to remove the metal bands. The bands are most likely secured with nails and so they should pop right off. Do not take the end bands off, because the barrel will fall apart if you do.
Wipe or brush stain on the barrel. I used “Special Walnut” stain from Minwax.
Let the stain dry and then put the metal bands back in place. You will be able to line the holes up on the bands with the old nail holes that are still in the wood. Use 1 inch screws to re-connect the bands. The screws are helpful compared to nails because they will sometimes pull on boards to even them out.
The next step is to build the base out of 2×12′s. I cut two 2×12′s to 27 inches which is the widest part of the barrel.
Next, you’ll need to cut the arc in the base for the whiskey barrel to rest in. This is a somewhat tricky part that I try my best to explain in the video above. I found the depth of the barrel to be 13″ where the base pieces would touch. The width of the barrel at this portion was 25 inches. So, I put a mark on the 2×12 at 13.5″ which was the center of the wood. I then measure down 3 inches and marked where the two points met. Next, take the width of the barrel where the base will sit (25 inches in my case), and divide by two to get 12.5″. Then, take a paint stick and drill one small hole near the top. Line the hole up with the center point you created earlier. Measure 12.5 inches down from that hole and drill another small hole. This small hole will serve as the pivot point. You’ll want to put a tack or screw in to allow the paint stick to pivot. The top hole will be used for a pencil. (Check out the video to see more details or the diagrams below.)
It’s time to build the apron around the top of the barrel. The total length of the barrel was 37 inches so I cut two pieces of 1×4 board to 37 inches. The total width of the barrel at its widest point is 27 inches. I flushed up the 1×4 with the barrel and then cut two pieces 20 inches long for the sides.
Connect the 1×4 apron pieces using a kreg jig. Drill 2 pocket holes on the ends of both shorter boards. Next, use 1 1/4 inch kreg screws to connect the boards.
Attach Decorative Base Pieces
Cut four 1×8 boards for the table top. My whiskey barrel was 37 inches so I cut these boards to 38 inches. The extra inch makes a half inch lip on each side so you can easily open or close the chest. Next, use a Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes in the boards. Set the Kreg Jig to the 3/4 inch stock setting and space the pocket holes about 6-8 inches apart from each other. Then connect the boards using 1 1/4 inch Kreg Jig screws.
Attach chest hinges to the back side of the apron. The hinges I used were about $6.00 and can be found here.
Attach a lid support to the chest. Here is the lid support I used.
Stain any unfinished boards. Apply a polyurethane for added protection. I ended up doing 3 thin coats of Minwax polyurethane on the table top.