DIY Side Table From an Old Barrel




Introduction: DIY Side Table From an Old Barrel

About: Born in Berlin in 1985, engineer, contrarian, 'The Big Bang Theory' fan, my other blog: - find me on Twitter @pixelgeb and reddit u/Stishio

I've found an old barrel in our basement. I think it was used to store beer. It's from the former GDR so at least 30 years old. My granny used several of these as stools.

I think it's very bulky and won't fit into our living room. I decided to transform it into a side table and a elegant stool. This instructable is about the side table. I hope you like the idea and will enjoy the instructions. Have fun :)

Step 1: Materials and Tools

  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Wire brush
  • Grinding machine or paper (a machine would be better)
  • Mask and gloves
  • Saw
  • Drill
  • Wood dowel
  • Dowel marker
  • Wood glue
  • Screws
  • Brush
  • Wood oil


  • Spirit level
  • Felt pads

Step 2: Dismantle the Old Barrel

First step is to dismantle the old barrel. I use a chisel and a hammer to remove the iron rings. It's important to loosen the rings from thicker middle to the thiner ends. I apply one hammer blow to the ring and then move a little bit to the side. This way I move around the barrel. I repeat this procedure until the ring is loose.

If you have problems with that, you could use a power cut to cut the metal ring. But be careful, the rings might have some tensions.

Now I can easily separate the wooden pieces. I need three same-looking pieces for the legs and the bottom or the top of the barrel for the tabletop. My barrel has some nice carvings on it. I'll this for the tabletop.

Step 3: Get Rid of the Old Paint and the Resin

The barrel was supposed to keep liquids in it. In my case, the barrel was coated with resin on the inside and with some ugly paint on the outside. It's important to get rid of these. Be careful while grinding and apply safety measures. Please use a mask and gloves. You never know what kind of nasty paint or chemicals had beed used centuries ago. I start the grinding process with my wire brush. Then I use my grinding machine with rough grain size to get ride of the resin and the paint. I finish the surfaces with a fine grain size.

Step 4: Cut Support Pieces

The grinding is the tough part. I'm done and I'll proceed with the assembly. Therefor I use another wall piece from the barrel and cut it into three small pieces (same width as the legs) using my chop saw. These pieces will support the legs and will help to fix them to the tabletop. I use my grinding machine to clean the small pieces as well.

Step 5: Assembly

I drill two holes (half the length of the wood dowel) into each leg and each small wood piece. I use a pencil to mark three equidistant markings on the bottom of the tabletop. There is a small trick to achieve this very easily. First start with one marking anywhere. Now you can use the radius of your round tabletop to mark the next marking. Therefor use a straight line from your first marking to the rim of your round shape. Where the line intersects the rim make a second marking. You can proceed with this method around the circle and you will end up with six markings, which are equidistant to each other. Now you can use three of them for your table legs. I hope everybody can understand what I mean. It is not easy to describe it with words :D

I use dowel markers to find the right position for the dowel holes on the tabletop. I drill all twelve holes (half the length of the wood dowel) into the tabletop.

Now I can use wood glue to glue the legs and their support pieces to the bottom of the tabletop. The round shape of the support pieces will place the legs at an angle to the tabletop. I use a spirit level to get a straight line between leg's end and the rim of the tabletop. But feel free to arrange the angle of the legs as it suites you.
I use two screws on each leg to fixate the leg to its support piece. You could use here glue and dowels as well.

Step 6: Finishing

When the glue is dry I use a wet piece of fabric to clean the wood from dust and apply a nice finish of wood oil. I use antic wood oil to get a nice antic look. You can use lacquer as well.

I mount felt pads to the bottom of the legs to protect our hard wood floor from scratches.

Step 7: Done

Well that's it. Congratulations you are done :D I hope you will enjoy building this. Please let me know your experiences and improvements. Please put photos in the comments. :)

Step 8: ​For the Curious

The carving on my barrel is German. It says "VEB BRAUEREI COTTBUS" and some numbers. Meanings of the words:

  • VEB is Volkseigener Betrieb. It's hard to describe. If you translate it you will get something like "Publicly Owned Operation" Please see wiki for it:
  • Brauerei means brewery :D So I guess there has been beer in this barrel.
  • Cattbus is a city in Germany. So I guess it was produced and filled there.
  • I guess that the numbers 77 and 74 are dates. That means that my barrel is 43 years old.

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Reclaimed Contest 2017

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Furniture Contest 2017

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    2 years ago on Step 8

    Good design and result, Stitch, thanks for sharing your work.
    A venerable table.
    The Internet is a beautiful tool!.

    Buen diseño y resultado, Stitch, gracias por compartir tu trabajo.
    Una mesa venerable..
    ¡Internet es una hermosa herramienta!.

    DIY Hacks and How Tos

    That looks really nice. I always love the character of the grain that you get with old reclaimed wood.


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you. You are absolutely right. Reclaimed wood is th best. I did some other pieces as well and I like that they all have a story to tell where I found them and what their purpose was before.

    bryans workshop
    bryans workshop

    5 years ago

    Wow, awesome! I need to find a barrel and do this!


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you. I hope you can manage to find one. Please post some pictures if you make some on your own. I‘d like to see it.


    5 years ago

    wow ..its cool


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thx :)