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
Tools Required for making Whiskey Barrel Table
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 wine 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.
I made my table out of a pre-cut whiskey barrel I found locally. They had been sitting outside for a few years and definitely had some character.
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.
Use a rubber mallet to flush up the boards if they stick out farther than they should. Do your best to get them somewhat even with each other.
Lightly sand the barrel using 220 grit sandpaper to remove debris and smooth out the barrel.
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.
Build the base
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.)
The paint stick is used as a compass. Put a pencil through the top hole to draw an arc and put a tack or screw through the bottom hole to use as a pivot point.
The barrel base pieces will have a nice arc after they are cut out with a jigsaw.
Test the base pieces with the barrel. You can make adjustments using a jigsaw or a a flap sander on an angle grinder. Use a level and tape measure to make sure the barrel is level and sits even.
Attach the whiskey barrel to the base using 3 inch wood screws. Drill pilot holes first so the wood does not split.
Build the table apron
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.
Center the apron on the barrel and attach using 1 1/2 inch wood screws. Make sure to pre-drill so the wood does not split.
My helper Nala! She has to learn how to use a drill sometime!
Cut a 1×2 or 1×3 board to use for the decorative base piece. Mine was 29 inches long (2 inches longer than the 2×12 base piece). Bevel the ends at 45 degree angles.
Attach Decorative Base Pieces
Attach the decorative base pieces using screws or nails.
Create the Table Top
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 hinges and lid support
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.
Great for storage!
My good buddy Dustin and I made another table for his family. The only big difference is that we painted the metal bands an oil rubbed bronze color.
Oh yeah… I also use this as a WHISKEY BARREL COOLER! Line it with plastic and you'll have ice cold drinks for your next gathering!
If you are looking for other barrel projects I'd recommend checking out my Wine Barrel Shelf Side Bar. Cheers!!