Make A Reclaimed-Wood Table Using Copper Pipe

Reader Contribution by Vicky Knoop
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This article was originally posted in Instructables and is reposted with permission from Vicky Knoop.

I needed a table in my oddly shaped kitchen that could act as additional counter space, a place to eat, a place to stash kitchen stools and general spot to put stuff on — all fitting into a 16-by-52-inch footprint. 

Given the odd dimensions and my limited budget, I felt my only option was to make a DIY table. Also, because my little apartment lacks a garage or outdoor space, I needed an easy project that didn’t require power tools and a wood shop.

Reclaimed-wood tables are popular in home furnishings catalogs, but the $2,000 price tag is pretty far out of reach of most budgets. My solution is a DIY table made of copper pipe and reclaimed wood that cost me about $120 to make. 

After I finished the table project, I was super-stoked and built a smaller cart to roll underneath my reclaimed-wood table. Materials to make the cart (pictured at right) cost about $100. 

I decided not to solder the pipe on either piece of copper pipe furniture to keep a consistent color, and also so I wouldn’t have to learn how to solder!

Supplies and Tools List

Power drill
7/8-inch butterfly drill bit
Paper plates for mixing epoxy
Stir sticks for mixing epoxy
Pipe cutter (sold in the plumbing aisle for about $7)

Materials List

35 feet of 3/4-inch copper pipe (I bought three 10-foot lengths and one 5-foot length)
Ten 3/4-inch copper tee fittings
Four 3/4-inch copper pipe ends
Two tubes 5-minute epoxy
Wood (anything you like, cut to measure 16 by 53 inches)

Copper tacks
Stain, paint or other wood finish
Mask or respirator if you’re finishing the wood indoors

For the tabletop of my reclaimed-wood table, I bought some old floorboards from the local reuse store (Building REsources in San Francisco). Floorboards are great because they have fantastic character — plus I scrubbed the heck out of them — and I knew that the tongue-and-groove edges would help hold the planks together on the top of my DIY table. The REsources folks kindly cut the boards 53 inches long for me. If you’re using individual boards as I did, rather than a continuous plank for your tabletop, you’ll also need three wooden battens (each 15 inches long) and screws to hold the boards together on the underside. Be sure to set the battens back from the ends of the top so they don’t interfere with the copper-pipe legs.

I tried to find used metal for this copper-pipe furniture project, but most copper is sold for scrap before it can be upcycled. Hardware stores sell new copper pipe in 10-foot lengths and 5-foot lengths. The 10-foot pipes costs less per foot than the 5-foot pipes. I bought a pipe cutter at the hardware store so I could cut the 10-foot lengths in the parking lot to fit inside my car.

Building the table is pretty straightforward. First, you’ll have to settle on the size of the DIY table you want to build for your own space, then do a quick sketch and calculate the measurements of each piece. Take a look at the photos of my reclaimed-wood table. The front legs are assembled of three pieces joined by two tee fittings. The rear legs are assembled of four pieces joined by three tee fittings. All four legs are capped by copper pipe ends at the bottom. I included a bottom stretcher at the rear (but not at the front) so I could slide a stool under the table. The two top stretchers cross, making them longer than the bottom stretcher, but the stretchers on your own reclaimed-wood table wouldn’t have to cross. The wooden top simply rests on the uncapped ends of the legs.

You can see more photographs of this project on my original Instructables post.

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