We had an extra, cheap drum laying around and didn't mind if it got messed up so I thought I would play around with it. At first I thought we would throw a coat of paint on it, top it with the glass from an old patio set we had, and call it good. So I started prepping for paint by removing all the hardware.
To remove these top bolts you can use a drum wing key or a just a pair of strong hands.
Since my wife wasn't around busy I used a wing key.
There were a lot of screws. Whenever I am taking something apart that has lots of pieces, I like to put screws back in the hardware so I don't lose them or get the pieces mixed up.
Once I took the top off, I noticed that the black exterior of the drum was just a piece of plastic laminate. We decided that the paint would be less likely to peel if we removed this black piece. I assumed that the entire thing was glued and would require quite a bit of sanding, but in the end I thought it would be worth it.
I pulled the two staples and started peeling the laminate. I was happily surprised to discover that only the seam was glued and it wasn't too hard to take it off. I thought I might need a putty knife or something to help pry, but I was happily surprised I was able to pull it free with just my hands.
There was about a two inch strip of glue residue that needed to be addressed. I used a combination of paint thinner and sand paper to clean it up, but either one by themselves would have eventually gotten the job done.
We ended up staining the piece with Minwax's Provincial and added a couple of coats of polyurethane from a spray can. The aerosol poly is a little more expensive, but for small projects like this, it is worth it. It dries fast, leaves a flawless finish, and requires no cleanup. Just remember it takes multiple coats. If you try to do it with one thick coat you will end up with drips that look awful.
I had the idea to put lights in the drum, but there wasn't a plug near by and there was some fear that a cord may pose a tripping hazard. We had some battery powered LED christmas lights laying around, but I needed a way to turn them on and off so we didn't drain the batteries too quickly.
I bought a push button switch and spliced it into the lights before the first bulb. All that entailed was cutting and stripping the wires then using wire nuts to secure the leads on the switch in place.
Make sure the lights are turned off at the battery pack before you cut the wire and then turn that switch back on to allow the new switch you just installed to control the lights.
After putting all the hardware back on the bottom of the drum I added the lights. I had hoped the switch would fit perfectly inside the existing air hole, but I had to enlarge it just a hair to accommodate the switch.
I ended up securing the lights with tape (not shown) to keep them from sliding around if the table need to be moved. We didn't want to see the individual lights, so we added rice paper to to the top to create a nice diffused light and reinstalled the remaining hardware.
The original drum was way too tall to serve as a coffee table. I used a grinder with a fiber cut off wheel to cut the metal legs down. I was able to reuse the plastic slip-on feet to cover the sharp cut end. We easily could have just left the legs off, but I wanted the drum to sit up off the ground just a bit and allow the light to enhance the floating effect.
With everything in place we set the drum in position and added the glass top that we had left over from an old patio set.