200-yr-old Barnwood Coffee Table

Introduction: 200-yr-old Barnwood Coffee Table

I work in a community college machine shop and every year the college does an auction to raise money for student scholarships. I built a live edge coffee table a couple years back and it brought in $900 so this year I decided to do another coffee table using some old "scrap" wood I got from a friend in January. With the COVID-19 quarantine, I built this table at home in my garage.

Turns out the pile of old wood was actually 200-year-old handhewn Black Walnut Barnwood. A buddy of mine ripped down the beams with his much larger, more powerful tablesaw a couple months back. Unfortunately, some of the wood had rot and insect damage, but I still had a decent amount of quality rough cut planks to work from.

I began by doing some brainstorming, sketching out some thoughts on a pad, getting a general idea of size, and then cutting out the pieces I would need to build this coffee table.

I used some basic Doug Fir for the tabletop since I don't have a large planar and wanted a smooth consistent top to place coffee mugs or plates. I ripped those, layed out where I wanted to glue some dowels, drilled, prepped and laminated those to make a nice flat top.

Then I used a draw knife to shape the walnut legs.

I cut down the handhewn planks to size and cut miters to make the "veneer" of the table.

Once, I assembled (glue/screw/etc) the table. I routed out the miters, which had an uneven edge due to the very rough surface of the boards, which I didn't want to remove since that was what made this wood so unique.

I then used some extra scrap bits of the doug-fir to make some inlays in the routed miters.

I love anything with mountain scenes or the cliche' pine trees, but I decided to go with a mountain silhouette. I printed out the exact size I wanted from my computer, transferred the image to the wood using a thick carpenter's pencil, and begin chiseling out the silhouette. Once I completed the mountain scene, I used a rounded bit on my Dremel to smooth out any rough edges.

I then cut out 1/4" diameter braided rope to do the edging and upper legs of the table. I then frapped the ends (if that's the correct term from when I was in Boy Scouts). It might mean something else these days on Urban Dictionary... I attached all the rope using Loctite 2-part clear epoxy. And once everything was dry, I gave the table a thorough sanding and then blew it off with compressed air.

I stained the table, installed some heavy-duty leveling feet, and gave my neighbors a show as I posed the table outside in some exciting coffee table action shots.

Hope you like it!

Thank you,



1. 200-yr-old barnwood (Black Walnut) from a field behind an old lumberyard

2. (1) 8' Length of Douglas Fir 2x8 from Home Depot

3. (1) 100' Length of 1/4" Cotton Braided rope from the local hardware store

4. (1) Bottle of Gorilla Wood Glue

5. (16) 3" Star-bit Construction Screws

6. Some L-brackets

7. Chop saw

8. Table saw

9. Handheld Belt Sander

10. Hand plane

11. Draw Knife

12. Set of assorted size chisels

13. Rubber mallet

14. Dremel Rotary Tool with assorted bits

15. Drill w/ drill bits (including 1/2" drill bit for installing leveling feet)

16. Japanese Pull saw or coping saw

17. Crosscut saw

18. Wire cutters

19. Loctite 2-part clear 5-minute Epoxy

20. Cotton string from any hardware supplier/store

21. Box of 1 1/4" star-bit construction screws

22. Varathane Dark Oak Wood Stain and Foam Brush

23. Adjustable Heavy Duty Leveling Feet from Amazon (set of 4)

24. 0.75" Diameter Oak dowel from Home Depot or any hardware store

25. Router with 1/2" diameter bit

26. Oak shim stock

Step 1: Building Table Top

1. Cut Doug Fir 2x8 into two 36" long lengths

2. Rip 3/8" off each long side of both 2x8's on table saw to remove beveled edges

3. Mark out and center punch holes to drill for inserting dowels (# is optional, but I would say do at least 3 - space evenly)

4. Drill holes 1.125" deep with 3/4" spade bit

5. Cut (6) 2" Lengths of 0.75" diameter oak dowel

6. Glue up holes and dowels and edge of boards and gently tap together with rubber mallet. Then clamp. I used three large clamps and let it dry overnight. Wipe off excess glue that squeezes out after you've tightened the clamps.

Step 2: Prepare Old Barnwood

1. Obtain old barnwood

2. A friend ripped it down to various sized planks and posts with a sawzall and table saw before delivering it to me.

3. Cut 4x4 (post section) to (4) 18" lengths for legs of coffee table on chop saw

4. Cut (2) 39" lengths of 2x4 barnwood on chop saw for long sides of coffee table

5. Cut (2) 17" lengths of 2x4 barnwood on chop saw for short sides of coffee table

6. Clamp table legs on workbench vise and proceed to chamfer edges using draw knife

Step 3: Table Assembly

1. Sand glued table top with belt sander or palm sander using various grits, though I just went with a 400 grit and it was smooth fairly quickly

2. Attach legs to corners of table top using L-Brackets and 1 1/4" construction screws on the two inside edges of legs. Apply glue between leg surface and table top corner prior to installing leg.

3. Optional - pocket screws into outside edges of legs to have fasteners on all four sides of each leg

4. Miter (45 degree) cut the ends of all the barnwood 2x4's. Note: I did not give exact dimensions on the length as it will vary on the amount of handhewn roughness that is on each board.

5. I mitered them short enough so they all met up at each corner, but it doesn't need to be perfect or look pretty as we will address that in the next part of the tutorial.

6. I installed the 2x4's with a 1/2" lip above the laminated table top board. First, I ran a line 1/2" below the top of each 2x4, lined them up on the sides, drilled small (4 @ 3/32") equidistant pilot holes along each board and then glued and screwed them to the table top using 3" starbit construction screws.

Step 4: Corners

1. Since the barnwood has such rough irregular handhewn edges, I decided to saw off the "point" of each mitered corner with a crosscut saw.

2. Now grab a router and 1/2" bit and set the depth to 1/4".

3. Set up a guild/fence with some scrap wood and clamps and run the router in the corner where the two miters meet up.

4. Cut 1/2" wide by 5/16" x approximately 2" long pieces from the left over doug fir strips that were ripped off on the table saw in the first step of this instructable.

5. Glue and insert these small strips into the routed channel. Once dry trim out perimeter with coping saw. Any gaps in the rest of the miter can be filled with glued and trimmed shimstock.

Step 5: Rope for Edges

1. Cut 4 lengths of 1/4" diameter braided cotton rope to appropriate lengths to run along the inside edge of the table

2. Glue to table using Loctite 2-part 5 minute epoxy and gently clamp if necessary

Step 6: Carving Mountain Peaks

1. Print out mountain clipart to appropriate size

2. Transfer to table top using pencil. Shade entire area of mountain on the back of the paper, lay paper on table and trace out silhouette of mountain to transfer the graphite onto the wood.

3. Grab small 1/4" wide chisel and begin gently chiseling out edges with using rubber mallet.

4. Work away and if you have access to a wood carving kit, some of the tools in there can assist in carving out the inner material.

5. Finish up with a Dremel Rotary Tool and rounded bit to smooth out any rough chiseled portions.

Step 7: Sand & Stain

1. Give a quick light sand of the entire table, and if necessary use a wire brush on the handhewn wood surface if there are any debris or dirt in the ridges.

2. Blow or wipe off all sawdust and apply Varathane stain with a foam brush. Follow instructions on the can. This particular stain instructed me to coat heavy, allow it to absorb, and then wipe off excess with a lint free rag.

3. Optional, cutting more rope to wrap legs. If so, stain the rope too for a nice even finish.

Step 8: Installation of Leveling Feet

1. Drill 1/2" diameter hole, 1" deep into center of leg base and gently screw in insert.

2. Then screw foot into insert and adjust to necessary height to level table on your floor.

3. Now you should be all done!

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding anything in the tutorial. I did my best (for someone with ADHD and a cheap laptop) to explain the steps. Hope you like it!

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    1 year ago

    Ooh, nice! I especially like the carved mountain detail!

    If you're inclined, you could edit and spread your images across a few steps with some written info covering the various processes involved - this would improve the overall presentation of your project for readers. Just a tip! Great stuff, thank you for sharing!! ; )


    Reply 1 year ago

    Thank you! Yes, I'm new to the site, so realized I need to definitely get better at describing and laying out everything. I appreciate the feedback because I'm hoping to get more into this and want to improve my efforts.