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Picture of Easy Copper Pipe and Reclaimed Wood Table
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I needed a table in my oddly shaped kitchen that could act as additional counter space, a place to eat, store kitchen stools and general spot to put stuff on, all while being 16"x52". Given the odd dimensions and my limited budget, my only option was to make one. Also, since my little apartment lacks a garage or outdoor space, I needed a easy option that didn't require a wood shop. 

I've been seeing reclaimed wood furniture everywhere, but a $2000 table is pretty far out of reach, so my solution uses copper pipe, epoxy, and reclaimed wood for around $120. After I made it, I was super stoked and made a side cart that could fit under the table that was another $100 or so. I decided not to solder the pipe to keep a consistent color. Also so I wouldn't have to learn how to solder copper pipe. 

What you'll need (in short)
- Copper pipe and fittings
- Wood
- Epoxy

- Power drill


Full Supply List for the 16"x53" table:
- 3/4" Copper pipe (three 10' and one 5')
They come in 10' lengths and 5' lengths. The 10' is cheaper per foot and I got the pipe cutter at the same time then cut the long ones in the parking lot to fit them into the car.
- 3/4" Copper Tee fittings (10)
- 3/4" Copper pipe ends (4)
- 5 minute epoxy (2)
- Paper plates for mixing epoxy (at least 5)
- Stir sticks to mix epoxy
- 7/8" Butterfly drill bit
- Pipe cutter

It's smaller than you think and you can get one in the plumbing aisle for $7
- Wood (any type you like cut to 16"x53") 
I went to Building REsources in SF and got some old floor boards that I scrubbed the heck out of. They kindly cut the boards to 53" for me. The floor boards worked great because they have fantastic character, but also the tongue and groove helped keep them together. If you're using slats of any kind, you'll also need three pieces of wood at 15" and screws to keep the pieces together. I also looked around for used copper pipe but most of that is sold for scrap metal before it gets a chance at upcycling.   

Optional
- Copper tacks
- Wood stain, paint, clear coat, or whatever you'd like to use to finish the wood
- Mask or respirator if you're using super stinky stuff to finish the wood


 
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Step 1: Drawing Out the Design

Picture of Drawing Out the Design
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Draw up the dimensions of the table. If you want a tall skinny bar like I made, my specs are below. If I were to do it again, I wouldn't do the X bars under the table top, but just straight across the front and back. If you're going for something completely different there are a couple things to keep in mind. 

1. Each Tee joint will add 3/4". For example, you start with a 20" piece of pipe, cut it into two 10" pieces and attach them back together with a tee joint. The full length is now 20.75"

2. When you attach the base to the table top, you'll drill into the wood to fit the pipes into place. Be sure to consider that into your final dimensions. 

3. Don't forget that the base of your table needs to be smaller than the top. I know that's really basic. But someone, I won't say who, may have had to recut some pipe after forgetting that. I did however end up with a lovely pile of soon to be copper rings from the resizing effort. 

Step 2: Cutting Pipe

Picture of Cutting Pipe
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Next, you'll need to start cutting the pipe to the proper lengths. I'd recommend gloves and glasses for this since copper burs may come off when cutting. I also had never cut copper pipe before so I watched this video which gave me confidence.

Be sure to cut the longest sections first and plan out how to use each length of pipe so you end up with as few scraps as possible. The last thing you want is to have four 6 inch sections when all you really want is a 24 inch piece. A mechanical pencil worked well to mark the pipe. 

After everything is cut, lay out the pieces on the floor with the proper fittings.

For my table the lengths are:

Pipe Pieces
2 - 3"
2 - 4"
2 - 5"
6 - 12"
1 - 20.25"
1 - 21.25"
1 - 24"
1 - 25"
1 - 50"
2 - 52"

Step 3: Assemble

Picture of Assemble
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Now put all the pieces together. If everything is cut properly, it should go up like Legos. 

The 5 min epoxy works well in this situation so you don't have too many malleable joints at one time. Mix enough for no more than 5 or 6 joints at a time. 

Notes on epoxy: 
1. Always use clean paper plates and stir sticks for every batch you make. Mixing older and newer leads to clumps and a weaker bond. Even just a little old stuff can mess up a batch. 

2. There are a few kinds of 5 minute epoxy. One is black and white and is labeled as 4 minute epoxy. I liked it because I could see when it was fully mixed (it turns grey) and it was super tacky and would hold the pipes in place even before it set. Unfortunetly, since it is so thick it's a royal pain to push the plunger and get even amounts from both tubes. So much so that I switched mid project to another variety that is clear and yellow tinted. It blended in with the copper and was easier to get out of the tubes. It did take a few more minutes to set and some pieces needed to be held in place for a minute or two since it wasn't as gummy as the black/white mix. But it reduced the amount of swearing significantly.


Step 4: Attaching the Wood and Finishing

Picture of Attaching the Wood and Finishing
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1. Prep your surface by scrubbing, sanding, attaching slats, or whatever is appropriate for your wood choice. I painted the underside but left doing a clear coat until the end. 
2. Turn the table upside down and trace around the legs. 
4. Using a 7/8" butterfly drill bit, drill into the wood about 1/2".
5. Turn everything right side up and fit the legs into the newly bored holes. 
6. Optional: Epoxy the legs in place*  
7. Paint, varnish or lacquer the surface. Clearly, wear appropriate gear for the material - mask, gloves and lots of ventilation. 

* I didn't use epoxy so I could switch out the surfaces if necessary. Since my SO doesn't quite have the maker's eye, he wasn't into the floor boards from the reuse yard, so we picked up wood from Lowe's. I stained it and lacquered it and it still looked like a Mr. Hardware Store project, so I went back to the builders yard and got the other boards. In the images, you'll see a mix of both the first piece and the second go round. In the end he liked the old wood, but now we have options. 

Step 5: Cart

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I mentioned earlier that I got so jazzed about the project that I made a companion cart to go with it. That was a bit more trial and error, but if you look at the pics you can get a pretty good idea of how it's put together. The main difference was that I used mostly 1/2" pipe which is cheaper, but still pretty sturdy for a project this size.

The one tricky part was the wheels. I couldn't find any that fit the 1/2" tube perfectly, so I had to first epoxy in some thick fabric. I used a heavy webbing that I had lying around and that seemed to do the trick. But I'm sure you could MacGyver other ideas on this.

Also, you'll need a 5/8" butterfly drill bit for the 1/2" pipe.

One more thing, the grate on the bottom is a lot of pipe cutting. Save yourself. Wear gloves. Do it for the both of us.  
longfellow6-611 months ago

Another option for connecting the copper pipe frame to the wood that still allows interchangeable tops are the clamps used to hold the pipes to your homes joists. They look a little like my crude sketch. The screws would follow the direction of the arrow into the bottom wood tabletop. They are really cheap and would do the job. This would work well with the perimeter configuration you described. The short sides could be connected with an elbow to have that pipe run along the bottom of the wood. I hope this all makes sense.

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robbadooz11 months ago

Silly, you could have used flux, solder and a burner. The flux sucks the solder right up so you can't see the connection. It's really not that hard. Overall, you have inspired me and have already been looking at Lowe's copper pipes. I see lots of projects ahead. Thanks a lot!

CobyUnger made it!1 year ago

Thanks for the inspiration.

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static1 year ago
I third, fourth or whatever the number is up to on learning to solder. A simple Bernzomatic kit is inexpensive. I predict that anyone who discovers how easy it is to solder copper plumbing joints and like the look of copper will go absolutely nuts looking for projects to build.
bringjustn1 year ago
Did you use the thin wall copper pipe (type M) or the thick wall (type L)? Also how sturdy are the tables?

also you got my vote for the "I could make that"
leftmusing (author)  bringjustn1 year ago
Thanks for the vote! I used the thiner pipe of the two available at the store, but I'm not sure of the letter. The little table is pretty dern sturdy, but the larger one, while fine for a side bar, wouldn't be a great work bench unless you change the cross bar configuration and/or pipe size. If I were to do it again, I'd probably do the below config. Good luck on your project!
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mrpesas1 year ago
Nice work!
I would suggest people try soldering the copper pipe. It is pretty easy to do and is a useful skill if you have any minor plumbing things to fix or update. You would need to buy a propane torch, but you can find those for cheap at the hardware store. And the torch is useful for many things like lighting charcoal, a campfire, or a manly cigar ;-)
sarah051481 year ago
Great idea, thanks for the post.-- a note about patinas- if you don't fancy the pinkish fresh color, you can wait till it gets to a burnished color you do like and lacquer it at that point. if it gets to dark, you can always use copper polish to start over with the clean copper. I use clear furniture paste wax to slow the oxidation process. that way you get to keep the light, bright colors longer and still have the chance to clean it all the way back to very light or let it go into the dark rich colors of the patina. copper is most forgiving.
leftmusing (author)  sarah051481 year ago
Thanks for the tip. That's helpful.
fb0941 year ago
good job! I ove that copper table .It's very cool.
hay_jumper1 year ago
I love that drawing!
blueaxe1 year ago
I hope you clear-coated the copper tubing, because it will tarnish pretty quick. Nice job tho.
Labyrinth1 year ago
Very nice. I have to second Kevanf1 re: soldering. It is dead simple and, once you have the hang of it, you'll get just a hint of the solder at the joints giving a bit of a counterpoint to the copper.
leftmusing (author)  Labyrinth1 year ago
It seems pretty straightforward. I'm not super keen on the look, but I'll give it a go if I do another project like this one. Thanks!
reginainqc1 year ago
Awesome project, and very nicely explained!
Very nice and original. The for posting this!
Wingloader1 year ago
I just put a water line into my garage on Saturday. The new copper pipe and fittings were so beautiful. I was thinking what a shame it is that these shiny things dull and lose their shine. This is a GREAT idea to make beautiful furniture from copper which when polished and clear coated will stay beautiful for a long long time. Thanks for the idea!
Kevanf11 year ago
Nice job, well done. I am always surprised that people don't make more things out of copper pipe. One can make a very nice frame work to go around a bed that looks just like a four poster bed. Easy to make using the same principles but using larger sized bore of pipe. ! inch or the metric equivalent is good for this. It's a bit pricey but a heck of a lot cheaper than buying from a shop :)

Oh, soldering. Very, very easy, honestly. The trick is to use steel wool and clean your copper until it actually looks pink. Then make sure you smear some soldering flux on it (I use the stuff that looks like brown petroleum jelly). For this sort of work your joints don't need to be watertight but it's good practice if they are, in case you ever have a plumbing problem (I used to be a plumber).
dulciquilt1 year ago
We have been planning a similar project for our bathroom with a wooden shelf under the countertop and a copper bowl for the sink. The wood won't be rustic, though, but more finished
leftmusing (author)  dulciquilt1 year ago
That sounds beautiful. Hope you post it when it's done!
foobear1 year ago
Copper is so beautiful it breaks my heart. I remember when it used to be cheap! voted. voted.
leftmusing (author)  foobear1 year ago
Thanks for the vote!
A tip on the wheels: You can get a dowel that is just a tiny bit larger than the copper tube. If it's too large, make sure you sand it down until it's just a bit larger than the tube, then hammer it into the tube. If it doesn't go in smoothly you may have to "sharpen" the end of the copper tube with a file or grinder. Don't beat on the wood too hard or you'll bend the copper. The excess wood should shear off and you will have an immovable wooden plug in the end of the tube. Now you can drill a hole in the wood and mount the wheels.
leftmusing (author)  JimTheSoundman1 year ago
Sounds like a good way to do it. Thanks!
altomic1 year ago
really awesome. I remember seeing a restaurant sign in Shinjuku made of copper pipe and wondering about using it a practical way in furniture. very cool usage. thanks for posting.
That's a very nice project! Voted a winner in the "I could make that" contest! Thanks for sharing it.
leftmusing (author)  missplumeau1 year ago
Thanks for the vote!
looks great! the napkin hanger was a smart idea! i love the copper color. also dont forget to spray it with clear spray paint, it starts corroding. unless u are like me and like the antique look that it will have after few years....
leftmusing (author)  jayeshshinai1 year ago
Thanks for the tip on coating the copper! I think I'll let it patina over time, but it's good to know the options.
Very nice indeed :-)
leftmusing (author)  Nostalgic Guy1 year ago
Thanks for the patch!
They're beautiful! I'm going to have to try this next time I find myself needing a table.
leftmusing (author)  jessyratfink1 year ago
Thanks! Good luck on your future table!
These are really beautiful! Great job!
Thanks so much!