Instructables
Repurposing my used truck tire into furniture was a great way to put a durable, used item to work for another lifetime.

We haven't had a coffee table for a couple of years.  My need for one and my desire to build one met up one day while I was surfing the Internet.  I read a blurp about someone who made an ottomon out of two stacked tires and suddenly my weekend now had purpose.

My wife likes the tire look for now, but there are plans for an elastic cover with remote control pockets on the perimeter in the works.

The best part is the top lifts off and there is a ton of storage inside the tire.  The leg supports effectively divide the interior space up inside and make it easier to organize, too.
 
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Step 1: Tools & Materials

Picture of Tools & Materials
I bounced around the shop on this project a bit due to its prototypical nature, but it could have been built with far fewer tools and had the same or better outcome if I had more experience working with tires (which I do, now).

Power Tools
  • table saw
  • drill press
  • band saw
  • lathe
  • router (table mounted)
  • router (handheld)
  • belt sander
  • disc sander
  • jigsaw
  • drill
  • impact driver
Hand Tools
  • wrenches/sockets
  • screwdrivers
  • sanding block
  • hammer
  • mallet
  • pencils/markers
  • hand plane
Materials
  • old tire in need of repurposing
  • 1/2 sheet plywood
  • threaded rod
  • assorted wood screws
  • three lag screws
  • assorted washers
  • stain or paint

Step 2: Layout

I'm a fan of three legged things.  The stability of the tripod means you don't have to worry much about solid footing on any surface (like a slightly off-level tile floor).

Before working with the tire, you will benefit from giving it a good scrub-down with soapy water and a stiff brush to remove brake dust and any road-kill remnants that may be lingering.  I got a small pick and pulled the tiny pebbles and glass chunks out of the tread as well.

Now that you're tire is clean, lets move on to layout.  For the tripod, you will have to divide the tire into three even sections.  An Internet search can answer any questions you have, but I summarized the two most helpful circle geometry theorems in the image above to help out.  This video can help, too.

Once you have laid out the thirds on the inside rim of the tire, use a square (as pictured) to transfer the marks to the opposite side.


Step 3: I'm So Tired

SUPPORT RODS

With the thirds laid out on the inner bead, drill a hole for the support rods.  

Shop Notes
  • Rubber doesn't retain it's shape when drilled, so for a 5/16" threaded rod, you should use at least a 7/16" bit, otherwise you will have hell getting it to fit
  • Go slowly when cutting and drilling to prevent heat build-up.  Heat is the biggest killer of bits and blades:  don't go faster than the speed you would drill a screw in at.
  • Remember that tires have fibers, wires, metal, and other internal structure(s) most people don't think about.  You will encounter them when you start drilling/cutting into the rubber.
I didn't measure the distance from the inside of the bead, I placed them at the same valley on the bead all the way around.

Insert the threaded rod through the holes.  I cut the rod long enough to accomodate a nut, lock washer, and flat washer on each end.  I suggest adding about 3/8" to this length to make it easier to get the floor supports on later.

The round washers pulled on the sidewall of the tire and made an weird tension line.  I clipped the flat washer so that it didn't dig into the sidewall and the problem was fixed.

LEG HOLES

Draw the division lines out onto the sidewall.  Halfway between the bead and tread on this line is where I put the leg holes.  I could have had the legs mounted to the outside of the tire, but I wanted them to appear as if they grew out of the tire.  It produced a cleaner look that I was going for.

Choose a hole saw that is a little bigger than the diameter of the legs you are going to use for the same reasons as above.

If you need to clean up any slop around the holes you just made, a razor blade works great.

Step 4: She Got Legs

Okay, I understand most people don't have a lathe.  I also understand that if someone does have a lathe, there is an 86.4% chance they are better at it than I am.  I'm in the other 13.6%.

But I do have a lathe hanging around the shop, and I wanted to put a slight taper on the legs to give this chunky table slender legs a la 1950s furniture.  As for wood selection, this table is built out of leftovers excepting the top.  The legs are turned out of a stick of Lyptus I had in my supplies.  Later you will see the legs blackened to match our dark bookcases.

I cut the three legs apart on the table saw (be sure to support the taper to keep the leg from falling when free from the other piece).  I set my miter sled to about a 2 1/2 deg. and trimmed the top of each leg.  This makes the legs splay out a little bit;  an aesthetic decision mostly.  An example of how I wanted the legs to look like is here.

The gist of this leg design is to have the legs protrude through the tire. Each leg is attached to a plate.  These plates are screwed to a stack of plywood (see next step) that has been cut to the profile of the tire interior, transferring the load around the whole tire, not just one sidewall.  It is necessary to break this leg assembly up into two parts:  leg + plate and plywood stack.  If you join them up prior to getting them in place, it just won't fit and you will be fighting the tire.

Shop Notes
It didn't occur to me how pliable tire sidewalls were when they weren't inflated.  My first go at this didn't have the stacked  plywood leg mounts and the table felt like a jelly fish.  After correcting that, it is solid.

I drilled a pilot hole into the top of each leg so I wouldn't split it during attachment.  I don't have a chuck on my lathe, so I clamped them on my drill press.

Next you will want to make a cardboard profile pattern of the "en-tire" interior (just terrible).  

Shop Notes
For this example, cardboard is better than corrugated.  If you don't know the difference, cardboard is on the back of a pad of paper, corrugated is used in bigger boxes.  I used corrugated and about halfway through wondered why I didn't use plain cardboard.  The corrugations made it more difficult to cut and I find it harder to trace around...

Transfer the pattern onto the end of some 1x4 of hardwood stock (I think the scrap I used was Alder) that is approximately three times longer than a top plate.  Use the belt sander (very noisy, dusty option) or a hand plane (the quite, no-dust option) to trim the board to match the profile.  Contrary to the way I marked the board in the photo, you should leave a flat spot on the bottom of the plate where the leg will attach so they will have a stable joint.

After shaping the board, I cut it into the three support plates, then pre-drilled a pilot hole.  I used a Forstner bit to recess the lag bolt head into the plate so it wouldn't interfere with the stack support.  I attached the legs to their support plates using a 4" lag bolt (probably overkill, but it is what I had on hand).
 

Step 5: Wide Wide World of Supports

Shop Notes
MDF is a good option for making patterns that are easy to reproduce.  It shapes easily, it cuts easily, and it is cheap relative to wood.  The downside to working with MDF is it is very dusty.  This is just an annoyance if you follow safety protocol (dust mask or respiration), but if you do not wear breathing protection, you are inhaling the fibers AND the formaldehyde based adhesives they used to bond the board together.  Just be aware.

I transferred my profile pattern to a piece of scrap MDF so I could make a production pattern.  the pattern has a flat area at one end to accomodate the top support plate that was attached to each leg in the last step.

Use this production pattern to trace nine (9) copies onto 3/4" plywood.  Again, I used scraps for this as it would not be very visible.  I rough cut the copies on the band saw (jig saw will work fine) to within 1/8" of the pencil line.  I then stuck the production pattern to the copy with double sided carpet tape and table-routed the copy down to final size, making an exact duplicate of the pattern.  I then detached the pattern and repeated this step for the eight other copies.

After all of the copies were cut out and routed to the same size, I glued them together in threes and screwed them together.  

Shop Notes
Let the glue squeeze out dry for about an hour, then scrape it off.  If you wait too long, it will be hard as a rock, if you do it too soon, you will have to work with liquid glue, which will be messy.  Just rubbing it in is an option if you are painting, but if you are staining, you will wreck it.  The glue will not accept stain the same as naked wood and you will see every glue splotch.

I set up a dado blade on my table saw to cut a groove accommodating the support rods around the tire perimeter.  I cut down the middle as best I could, but then I rotated the stack and cut again.  Cutting in this way ensures a centered groove.

Step 6: Reunited

Picture of Reunited
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Now it is time to put the leg assemblies together.  Remove the nut from one end of the support rod at the leg where you are working.  Place the leg through the hole in the tire.  Check to make sure the rubber is pressed flat against the top support plate and not in a bind against the leg (for appearance sake).  

Place the leg support in place;  it should fit snug in the tire, but not visibly deform it.  I tapped the support into the proper position with a mallet to get it squared up with the "thirds" line and then twisted the leg to square it to the support.  Repeat for all three legs.

Turn the whole thing over and drill a pilot hole through the tire,top support plate, and into the leg support.  Secure the tire, leg, and support together with appropriate length screws.  Don't over-tighten the screws and mess up the tire.  Although I used flat head screws, pan head screws would have probably been a better option...I just didn't have any long enough on hand.

Step 7: Floored

Picture of Floored
Next, I cut a 17" diameter circle out of 1/2" scrap MDF for the bottom.  I beveled the edges so it would fit the bead tightly.  I then drilled through the bead and attached small plates with machine screws and washers to hold the bottom in place.  I placed one support at each leg, then one support between each leg for a total of six supports.

The plates are leftover Ikea hardware.  I filed and bent the outside end up a bit for a tight fit.

This is a good time to take a look at your legs...well, your table's legs anyway.  The bottom of each leg should have a slight 1/16th to 1/8th inch bevel sanded or planed onto them.  The bevel serves two purposes.  First, it makes the table look as if it is floating ever-so-slightly.  Secondly, as the table is dragged around over the years, the bevel prevents the outside wood from catching the floor and splintering off, thus preserving the quality of your table.

Step 8: Tip Top

The only part of this project that isn't re-used or from my scrap pile is the top, and the only reason is because I had already used my decent plywood up on other projects.  You'll notice I have two circles on the plywood.  That turned out to be way too heavy.  I ended up using only one of the circles and saved the other for a future project.

Shop Notes:
To make working with sheet goods easier, it is a good idea to buy a $10 sheet of rigid foam insulation from a home center and keep it around just for a cutting surface.  The foam provides stable support for your work piece all over its surface, and it is harmless to your blades.  You can put it on your workbench if it is large enough, or in the driveway, etc.  Then put the sheet on top and cut away.  I use 1 1/2" foam because it provides plenty of room for error.  Be sure you don't adjust the depth of your circular saw deeper than your foam or you will cut whatever is underneath.

After roughing out the circles to whatever diameter you want, it is time to make them nice rounds.  There are no pictures of me rounding it out because I got wrapped up in the work, but here is an outline of what I did.

I used a router with a circle trammel jig to cut the table top.  You can see what that process looks like here.  There could be a multitude of Instructables on router technique, so I will just say:

Don't bite off more than your router or you can chew.

Routers are very high speed tools (10-20,000 RPM).  I use 1/2" bits these days, but when I started woodworking, I used 1/4" bits.  I have had two bits snap on me mid-cut and fly across the room.  Metal flying across the room after being ejected by a 20,000 RPM machine will cause a pucker moment for sure.  Wear safety equipment.  Work safe.  Read up on whatever process you use for circle cutting and be comfortable that you know what you are doing.



 

Step 9: Photo Finish

Although I like to build furniture, I don't have a tremendous amount of time to do so.  As a result, we have some Ikea items hanging around.  In our living room, we have the "Billy" book cases in the dark (almost black) color.  I really liked the color, and since they aren't going anywhere for a while, I opted to match this to their color as best I could.

Through trial and error...mostly error...I came up with a finishing process that worked well.

It is important to treat the surface of pretty much any soft or open-pored wood before staining, otherwise it will absorb the stain at an uneven rate.  I knew this, and yet I continued on without doing it.  As soon as I put stain to wood, I knew I had made a mistake.  The softer rays of wood absorb the stain at a much greater rate than the harder rays.  When you wipe the stain away, you end up with a zebra effect that will ruin a light finish.  Luckily, I was going very dark, so I was able to fix my mistake.

Shop Notes:
There are several ways you can treat the wood to fix the uneven absorption problem.  Commercially, there is "wood conditioner" that can be applied to the wood.  It is convenient and dries quickly.  I have heard of people making a wash of a wood glue / water mix as well, but I have never tried this.  In the spirit of Instructables, I used a shop formula of 3 parts mineral spirits and 1 part satin polyurethane to fix my earlier jam...
 
Obviously stir stains and polyurethane well before using and follow manufacturer recommendations (if you dare).  When using polyurethane that has been hanging out in the shop for a while, it is always a pretty good idea to strain it through a cheese cloth after stirring, but before using it.  I had some that was about 8 months old and it was kinda nasty on top (see pictures).  After straining, you are left with good working material that will give you much better results with less expletives.

Be careful with the dark stains not to sand through the stain.  Due to the look I was going for, I opted to nix sanding and burnish the surface with 00 steel wool between coats to knock down any high spots.  I use cut up shop rags for application also because I hate to see a good brush get ruined due to my hatred of cleaning them.  

The stain mix I used was 1 part mineral spirits, 1 part polyurethane, and 2 parts "black onyx" stain.  The addition of the poly seemed to prevent the solids in the stain from rubbing off so easily when I burnished between coats.

To emphasize a faux grain direction, I applied the stain in straight lines.  I did not wipe the stain off because I wanted it to cover up the wild plywood grain pattern that was underneath.  After the stain was completely dry, I applied two coats of polyurethane thinned down 3:1 poly to mineral spirits.  Careful working with straight polyurethane...you may just end up with a honey-sticky mess on your hands.  I personally don't use it unless it is thinned a bit.

Shop Notes:
I've never experienced it personally, but I don't want to.  Spontaneous combustion:  its more than sci-fi.  Many thinners, lacquers, stains, etc. have an exothermic reaction when they cure.  If you ball up a soaked rag in an enclosed space, there is a very real danger of that exothermic reaction exceeding the flash point of the materials.  Spread out your rags, clean them, or follow whatever procedures the manufacturer recommends so you don't blow yourself up or burn your own house down.

Step 10: Centering the Top & Wrap Up

To keep the top centered on the tire, you will need to put either a round attached to the underside, blocks, or something I haven't thought of.  I used three blocks to keep the top centered on the tire table.

I had a hardwood cutoff about 1 1/2" x 1 1/2" x 7" in my scrap bin.  I cut it into 2" pieces because that is the distance from the tire sidewall (bottom of the table top) to the inside of the bead.

Find the center of each block.  Countersink a hole stopping short 3/4" from the other side, then drill through with a bit just bigger than the threads of the screw you are going to attach it with (#10 x 1 1/2" flat head wood screw in my case).

I made a jig out of scrap so I could trim the edges off the block to make a taper with my bandsaw.  Otherwise, just sand it however you like.  I then used a small block plane to get the profile I wanted, then dressed it up with 100 grit and 220 grit sandpaper.  I used a wipe on / wipe off technique with a mixture of 50/50 polyurethane and mineral spirits.

Shop Notes:
When you stain items with nooks and crannies, such as the screw hole on these blocks, or a box with a panel bottom for that matter, using an air compressor with a blower nozzle on the end is awesome for getting the excess polyurethane out of the cracks and grooves.  This will keep you from getting as many runs and drips and will make for a neater presentation.

My top and the tire are almost the same diameter, so I measured the distance from the bead to the tread on the tire, then transferred that to the underside of the top.  I had the "thirds" marked on the bottom side of the table top.  In my case, I placed the outside edge of each finished block 6 7/8" from the table top edge.  Just a couple of tweaks and I had a tight fitting top.

 
TamS127 days ago

This is perfect for my_vehicle loving_ sig.other's "man cave". He will love the look of this table.I can see two end tables and a doubledecker beer table in my future. Thanks for the idea and the info :-)

BRBarry1 year ago
Thanks for the idea, made a couple for gifts after my summers wore out. little bit different design though, I didnt like the idea of having the legs come through the side walls, so just mounted them on the base ply, then made a 3/4" insert to make the bottom flush with the rim wall, and the magizine holder was so when you close the lid it doesnt have side movement. had one good idea i couldnt get to though, I wanted to replace the doweling with 8" rubber wheels on swivel castors, but wasnt sure how to make the bracket so they would look decent.
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bigern00 (author)  BRBarry1 year ago
Thanks for sharing...nice work! We have three kids (3 y.o. + twin 6 monthers)...a friend recently asked me how durable the table was re: the kids. I hauled off and gave it a swift kick in the side. He gasped a little then realized how bulletproof these tables are. I told him, "Hey, it held 6800 lbs of Dodge for 96,000 miles." I love the table. Going to make more soon...
bigern00 (author)  bigern001 year ago
And I noticed your duplex top design...that makes a great place to store some magazines or coffee table books for easy access...I think I will incorporate that into the next design...
Takelababy1 year ago
Now I know what to do with two used quad tires. Thanks
snayl1 year ago
I just want the Enzo from your instructable. ;-)
Very cool idea! Nice job on the instructable!
PitStoP1 year ago
Nice! I had a similar idea for my workshop/garage that I'm redoing but instead of a wood tabletop I was planing on using a piece of glass I have for the top and a nice rim on a low profile tire. Nice job!
tjesse1 year ago
Ah...the versatility of threaded rods! Nice project.
It's durable - I will give you that.

Not a huge fan of the glass coffee tables, but this.

Unbreakable.

Actually come to think of it, you could use tyres for many things...
bigern00 (author)  Wroger-Wroger1 year ago
Hey, and it rolls from room to room...how can you beat an item of furniture that virtually moves itself?
bigern00 (author) 1 year ago
I believe a lot of what people attribute to the "rubber" smell is due to the manufacturing process. This is a well used (96K miles) tire that was scrubbed several times. I haven't noticed any odors and it hasn't left any marks on me yet when I brushed up against it...
Excellent idea, it looks fantastic! That tyre does look in mighty fine condition from what I can tell but hey you put to good use :D
It looks close to, if not past, the tire wear bar indicators. Safer use for it than using it on a truck...
I was going by how clean and scratch free it was but Im sure your right . Either way it looks great !
Most of my rear tires somehow seem to quickly turn bald... just after I decide to replace them and have the new ones in my shop... there is often funny black lines on the country road outside my friends tire shop...
duggerpato1 year ago
Awesome instructable! I would only wonder if the smell of rubber permeates the room it's in. I know at tire shops and stores that's all I can smell is the rubber.

This reminds me of being paid to re-purposed huge tractor tires to be water/food holders for wildlife several years ago, and it's no easy task cutting the tire's sidewalls. Good job!
Sowee1 year ago
Why do you call Enzo a shop-dog? hahaha
The only question I have is....even after washing the tire it will leave black marks on anything or anyone that rubs against it. Did you solve this issue and if so did I miss that step?
Thanks
bigern00 (author)  THELOVEOFGREG1 year ago
After scrubbing the tire with the soap and water, I haven't had any problems with transfer marks on my hands or fabric.
aww, no place for a kitty to hide!
Lindie1 year ago
Nice!
wbarbe1 year ago
very awesome sir
bajablue1 year ago
This is fantastic...

... but I don't think I'd trust that male dog near the tire table when nature calls. He's already got a guilty look on his face! ;-D
Dr.Bill1 year ago
AHHhhhhhh. The smell of clean rubber. This is so Redneck I love it.
Kev131 year ago
Great idea and really well done instructable - how do you keep this from smelling like a tire?
heibert Kev131 year ago
methinks that any silcone or vinyl polysh wax can fix rubber smell forever.
hailster1 year ago
I love this idea and it couldn't have come at a better time. My wife told me to take my old tire (nail through the sidewall) to the recycling center today, but after reading this I'm going to keep it and make it into a table for my ham radio room. Thanks for the great idea!
ledshed1 year ago
Brilliant. I reckon you could simplify the design a bit though, by passing the legs through both tyre walls and mounting to the underside of the table top. You're way is a lot nicer though :-)
kvnsdlr1 year ago
I had one of these as an coffee table. It was a NASCAR tire with a glass top and a stuffed checkered flag in the middle with a copy of 'Go Faster' sitting atop. The only downside to it at all is that you don't realize just how much your feet/shoes glide under things naturally until your foot meets grippy tire for the fifteenth time. It went from coffee table to end table in a week!
PeckLauros1 year ago
Nice work!
This looks awesome! It is hard to upcycle those tires, and you did a great job!

Cheers and thank you!!
Mrballeng1 year ago
This is worth it's weight in premium motor oil. Turned out great.
BobS1 year ago
Beautifully detailed instructable!
ianmi1 year ago
Love it, and at least your honest about your mistakes A*
bigern00 (author)  ianmi1 year ago
I could make an Instructable about that alone...may have to be a multi-part series :)
WhiteTech1 year ago
I love it! Ive heard of people doing this, but never seen one!
Very cool and original! I like it!