Introduction: Bourbon Barrel Coffee Table

About: I'm an Electrical Engineer by training and profession. I enjoy working on complex problems and processes, and I especially like finding ways to do complex tasks more efficiently. My current interests are wo…

This instructable shows how my daughter (with my help) made a bourbon barrel coffee table.

One of my daughters is going into her senior year at college. She's moving into an apartment with several other roommates. Everyone is contributing to the furnishing of the apartment, and she wanted to build a unique coffee table. She decided on a bourbon barrel coffee table after viewing some youtube videos.

My daughter did the majority of the work on this table over a 10-day period.

This instructable shows the steps we took to address the various woodworking and metalworking challenges that we faced in building this table.

While it's not perfect, she's very pleased with the results.

And it was a neat father/daughter project to work on together!

Step 1: Materials & Tools


o Bourbon barrel

o Wood screws

o Lag bolts

o Piano hinge

o Stain

o Polyurethane

o Kreg screws

o Screws to attach bands

o Pine boards or other material for trim & top

o 2 x 12 x 6' for base pieces

o Small section of 2 x 4 to attach base pieces

o Piano hinge


o Drill

o Metal drill bits

o Bandsaw or hacksaw

o Table saw or circular saw

o Kreg jig

o Sander

o Jig saw

o Router

Step 2: Obtain Bourbon Barrel

You will need to obtain a bourbon barrel from Craigslist or another source. Expect to spend anywhere from $75 - $150 or so.

I have a friend at work who frequents a local pub and he noticed they had a couple of barrels that they were using as tables.

After some negotiation, my daughter was able to get this barrel for $65.

We managed to finesse the barrel into the back seat of her Buick Century. Several of the bands were loose and kept falling off.

Step 3: Secure & Cut Retaining Bands, Separate Barrel Halves, & Clean

The first challenge we had was in how to cut/split the barrel into two pieces.

She located the bands and aligned the "rivets" and determined where she wanted to cut the barrel in half. To cut it directly in half would require cutting through some of wood slats, so we decided to split the barrel at the natural joint of the wooden slats (as a results, one side of the barrel is slightly larger than the other side). Then she drilled two holes through the bands near the end of each half and screwed in 1" screws to hold the slats/barrel halves in place once we separated the barrel.

She then marked a cut line on each of the bands with a sharpie, and then removed the bands individually and cut them in half using a band saw (this could be done with a hacksaw if necessary).

While the bands were off, she cleaned the bands with a wire brush to remove the rust.

She then re-secured the split bands, one at a time, into the barrel using the screws.

When all the bands were split and reattached, the exposed seam allowed the barrel halves to be separated using a little finesse.

Once the barrel was split in half, she cleaned the loose charcoal off of the inside of the barrel using a drill with a cleaning attachment.

Step 4: Cut, Glue, and Attach Ends

My daughter then determined which parts of the barrel ends that she wanted to use.

We then cut and glued them to the desired sizes.

She then glued and screwed the barrel ends to the barrel. The screw holes needed to be countersunk so that the edge bands would fit easily over the screw heads.

Step 5: Layout, Cut, and Construct Base

Now comes what I think is the hardest part of this project - making the curved base.

We decided to locate the base portions directly underneath two of the middle bands of the barrel.

This allowed us to use the bands as a template for drawing the curve to cut in the 2 x 12 boards.

We held the bands at the desired curvature by using a wire run through the screw holes at each end to tension the band to the same width that it was on the barrel.

She made the boards long enough to extend about 2" past each edges of the barrel.

She located the bottom of the curve about 2" about the bottom of the edge so that the final height of the coffee table would be about 16".

We used a digital angle gauge that I had in my workshop to determine the approximate angle of the band to be 9 degrees.

We set the jigsaw so that it was set at approx. a 9 degree angle, and then carefully made the semicircular cut.

It was pretty close, but required some additional sanding for a better fit.

We then test fit the barrel into the base pieces, determined the distance between them, and cut a 2 x 4 to length and attached it with Kreg pocket screws. In addition, she later added a decorative "runner" under the base pieces.

Note: All of the wood pieces that were cut for this coffee table (base, trim, and top) had their edges routed using the combination table saw-router table that I describe in a separate Instructable. We used a 1/4" round router bit, and my daughter did most of the routing.

Step 6: Build Trim for Barrel

We then ripped some pine board that I had to about 3" width, and used a miter saw to cut 45 degree angles at the corners. She then drilled Kreg pocket screw holds and attached the pieces with 1-1/4" Kreg screws.

She then stained it.

She then pre-drilled some 3/4" strips so that wood screws could be easily used to attach the trim. We glued and screws one strip to one side, and then marked the second strip, and the glued and screwed the second strip to the underside of the trim.

Step 7: Build Coffee Table Top

She then used the trim to determine the size of the top (she just wanted a little overlap on each side).

We ripped some pine boards to the desire dimensions, and used Kreg screws to attach the boards together on the underside.

She then sanded the top till it was smooth and then stained it.

Step 8: Polyurethane the Inside of the Barrel

The inside of the barrel was still black and would rub off a little on your fingers, so my daughter put a coat of polyurethane finish on the inside.

Step 9: Secure Barrel to Base

She used four 5/16 x 2-1/2 bolts to secure the barrel to the base.

Be careful when drilling the holes to drill in the center of the base so that the lag bolts don't protrude.

Step 10: Secure Trim to Barrel

She used some wood screws to attach the trim to the barrel ends.

Step 11: Secure Top to Trim

She added two support pieces to the bottom of the top for support, and then attached the top to the trim using a brass piano hinge.

Step 12: Add Final Finish(es) to the Top

She then put three coats of polyurethane finish on the top, using steel wool to rough the surface between finishes.