How to Build a Whiskey Barrel Coffee Table

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.

Project Costs

Whiskey Barrel – Between $25 and $200 depending on where you find it.
Lumber – Approximately $40
Screws – $12.00

Tools Required

Kreg Jig – For building table top
Orbital Sander
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
Chest Hinges
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

Lumber List
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.

whiskey-barrel-furnitureI 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.

whiskey-barrel-furniture-ideas-diy-peteStep 1

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.

Whiskey barrel furnitureUse 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.

Whiskey barrel chestLightly sand the barrel using 220 grit sandpaper to remove debris and smooth out the barrel.

Whiskey barrel chestStain

Wipe or brush stain on the barrel. I used “Special Walnut” stain from Minwax.

Whiskey barrel chestRe-assemble

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.Whiskey barrel tableUse 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.

Whiskey barrel chestBuild 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.

Whiskey barrel tableNext, 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.)

Whiskey barrel table

whiskey-barrel-base-instructionsThe 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.

Whiskey barrel tableThe barrel base pieces will have a nice arc after they are cut out with a jigsaw.

Whiskey barrel tableTest 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.

Whiskey barrel tableSide view of the barrel. 

Whiskey barrel tableStaining the base pieces.

Whiskey barrel tableAttach the whiskey barrel to the base using 3 inch wood screws. Drill pilot holes first so the wood does not split.

Whiskey barrel tableBuild 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.

Whiskey barrel tableConnect 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.

whiskey-barrel-chest-tutorialCenter 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.

Attaching-apron-to-whiskey-barrelMy helper Nala! She has to learn how to use a drill sometime!

whiskey-barrel-helperCut 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

whiskey-barrel-table-legs-decorativeAttach the decorative base pieces using screws or nails.

whiskey-barrel-table-legs-attachingCreate 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.

kreg-jig-whiskey-barrel-tableAttach 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.
whiskey-barrel-chest-hingesAttach a lid support to the chest. Here is the lid support I used.

Whiskey barrel tableFinal Touches

Stain any unfinished boards. Apply a polyurethane for added protection. I ended up doing 3 thin coats of Minwax polyurethane on the table top.


Whiskey barrel table

Whiskey barrel table

Whiskey barrel table

Whiskey barrel tableGreat for storage!

Whiskey barrel tableMy 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.

whiskey-barrel-table-diy-peteOh 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!

Whiskey barrel tableIf you are looking for other barrel projects I’d recommend checking out my Wine Barrel Shelf Side Bar. Cheers!!

DIY Wine Barrel Shelf


    This is dope AF

  • Alberto Moradillo

    Pete, Thanks to you, I finally decided to do a couple of tables few months ago,you were my inspiration.
    I have the photos in my blog; if you have time to check it out,I would like to hear what you think. About selling them,well, here in Spain,there isn’t much demand for it,I sold them for 180 euros each,witch means I did not make any $ on it,nobody call for over a year, and then ,two people call within 3 days, I just wanted to get rid of them . Anyways I’m going to make some more ,cause many call me lately asking if I have more, these I want to sell them for 260 or more but I’m not sure.
    There is something I want to ask you,cutting the barrel in half ,is not the more important process, but I think is crucial,but for some reason I can’t get a even cut, consequence; is a lot of work of sanding and grinding , do you know a easy way to do it?.

    Thanks again Pete, You are great on your videos , the way you explain all the process , after I’m done with the tables I’ll try some of the great projects on your website
    Best Regards

    • diypete

      He Alberto, Thanks so much for sharing your projects. They look amazing.

      I’m not in the business of custom furniture, but I do know folks who’ve made this table have been selling them with success for your $650-$850 in the US. It’s been about been able to find the right markets where you can charge that amount. I agree, it wouldn’t be worth it selling them if you aren’t getting what you want. Will actually did a video which might help with the general process: — however, I’d say a reciprocating saw isn’t going to get you the smoothest cut. — however, a jig saw or circular saw is the tool I’d use. — And a powered hand planer will help make finishing it much quicker if you have one. Thanks so much for the kind words and for the questions. Best of luck! – Pete

  • Mona Bolivar

    Can you tell me the barrel size that you used?


      Hi Mona! I have the overall measurements for it above, but I can’t find any markings on the actual barrel telling me the size. (I picked them up on craigslist a few years ago pre-cut) — If I can compare them to a full barrel at some point to help determine the size I’ll let you know.

      • Mona Bolivar

        This is the size I have and wondering if it might come close to the size you used
        Whole Barrel (Height 29 inches)
        Chime 5/8 of an inch
        Head Size 17 inches
        Bilge circumference 65 1/2 inches + tax
        Number of Hoops 6
        Number of Staves 15
        Stave Width: Minimum 1 1/4 inches
        Maximum 5 1/2 inches

        • DIYPETE

          Hi Mona! Attached is a photo. It looks to be quite a bit larger. You can certainly do a table of some sort with it. You’ll just need to adjust the base arch rests and dimensions. Definitely doable though 🙂

  • Evan Christoffels

    Thanks Pete! Easy to follow instructions and it turned out great. I used dark walnut because after I stained the barrel it became a dark coffee color. Thanks so much again. I have 7 more to make now!


      Hey Evan! I’m glad the project went well. Good luck with the rest of them!

  • Pamela Loranty

    Hi Pete. We are in the process of making this table and have a question about the half circle stand, after cutting the arc , because of the curve of the wine barrel, it fits on the inside and has a gap on the outside. Did you try and sand to fit curve or just leave the gap?


      Hi Pamela! You can use an angle grinder with a flap disk to carve it a bit to make things fit perfect. A number of folks simply left the small gap and it turned out just fine. The gap isn’t big or real noticeable.

  • Noel Dupont

    Best example seen yet…I am going to make a vertical barrel door at the end of my bar. So the plan is to use long hinges to accommodate for any amount of moment created by the barrel door. Your example was what I was looking for to see how other tackled cutting barrel with out loosing shape.

    Nice view in your home perfect setting for whiskey sippin.

    • Hi Noel! Thanks for the kind words and for checking out the tutorial and video, I appreciate it! Best of luck on your barrel project and I’d love to see photos of the barrel door when you complete it. Cheers!

  • Eric Stoner

    I am going to do this for sure! How much could sell these for? Thanks again !


      Yeah you should, absolutely! If you search around online, similar ones sell for around $895 – if you’re wanting to sell quicker, I’d say the $400-$700 range would be good. Best of luck!

      • Eric Stoner

        Thanks again for your help! Where can I buy barrels? I live in Illinois and we don’t have brewery’s and when we find them at Menards, they are cut in half not length wise Thanks Pete

        • DIYPETE

          Eric, a few good places to check for whiskey barrels are locally on Craigslist, breweries or distilleries, and then at local farm/ranch supply stores. In Montana I was able to come by some used barrels on Craigslist as well as the option to buy new at a farm/ranch supply store. Since you’re able to find them at Mernards, that’ll be your best bet. You’ll likely have to cut them in half, Eric. Refer to this page to learn more about cutting them in half:

          • Eric Stoner

            OK..Thanks again for your help!

  • Alyssa Gomez

    Hi There Pete,

    Quick question. I have a wine barrel that is not cut in half yet. How would I cut it in half lengthwise without the staves falling apart. Do I have to cut one metal band at a time and then reinforce with screws? or what? Any ideas would surely help. How was your barrel secured? I know you mentioned it was already cut in half when you got it.

    Thanks for the help

    • mbmo

      Any tips on this? Going to tackle this shortly myself.

      • Hi! What I did prior to cutting was I drilled holes in the band near where each cut would be made, and then one in the middle. I then put 1 inch wood screws in. Then I used a sawzall to cut through the bands. Because I fastened the bands I was able to keep everything in place. For the endcap, I bought thin 1/2 inch metal band and tacked it on each end to keep the half circle endcap from moving. Does that make sense? It is a bit hard for me to explain with writing. Let me know if it helps or if you have any other questions. Good luck! – Pete