Introduction: Scaffold Board & Copper Pipe Table
Here we have an affordable table which is quick and easy to make. This same method can be used to create a table of any size or shape.
I'll write this in the style of a how to guide, of course you are free to do things differently and your result might well be better than mine.
Please post photo's of your finished project if you take inspiration from this Instructable, so we can all learn together!
The full build process is also covered in this 10 minute video, if you prefer this format, or want more details.
- Scaffold boards (2 pcs 3 m long for this table)
- Copper plumbing pipe (1 pc 28 mm x 3 m, 1 pc 15 mm x 3 m for this table)
- Stainless steel threaded rod (1 m of M6 for this table)
- Danish oil
- Reciprocating saw with wood blade
- Angle grinder with metal cutting and flapper discs
- Drill with wood and metal bits
- Propane torch
- Pipe cutter
- Lump hammer
- Sanding sponge
- Centre punch or other sharp implement
- A sock...
- P.P.E. (Mask, earplugs, eye protection)
Step 1: Cutting the Scaffold Boards
First, plan the table dimensions and shape...
Then measure and mark out the cuts on the scaffold boards. "Measure twice, cut once".
Then cut the scaffold board with a reciprocating saw / circular saw / jigsaw / hand saw (if you want a free gym session).
Step 2: Fixing the Scaffold Boards Together
I decided to use stainless steel threaded rod to fix the boards together using an interference fit.
The holes we drill are slightly smaller in diameter than the threaded rod, so once the rod is hammered into the hole, it is held firmly in place by friction, with no adhesive or further fasteners required.
- Cut the threaded rod with a metal cutting disc on an angle grinder. (A hacksaw can be used as an alternative). I used 15 cm sections and this worked great.
- Using a flapper disc, angle the ends of the threaded rod to a blunt point.
- Mark out the position of the threaded rod in the scaffold boards and drill deep holes with a wood drill bit. (I drilled 5 mm holes for 6 mm threaded rod.)
- Hammer the threaded rod into the scaffold board to the half way point.
- Bring the next board up in position and tap with a hammer to leave indentations which show you where to drill the next board.
- Drill out the next board.
- Hammer the boards together using a heavy hammer, using a scrap piece of wood to spread the load and prevent hammer marks.
Step 3: Burn Baby, Burn
Tidy up the final shape of the table with a flapper disc (sandpaper disc) on an angle grinder. You can of course also use a use belt sander, manually sand with paper & a block, or use a plane - or whatever other tools you have access to.
The beauty of his type of rustic build is the table doesn't have to be perfect.
Burn the scaffold boards with a propane torch. You can go for a light burn or a deep burn according to your personal preference. I wen for an uneven, deep burn, which gives the table a very rustic, antique look.
Brush off the carbon with a hard bristled brush and / or a wire brush. Follow the grain to avoid leaving unnatural looking brush marks.
Step 4: Treat With Danish Oil
Apply Danish oil with a lint-free cloth (or in my case, a sock!). You will need 3 coats with 4 - 6 hours of drying time between each coat.
Step 5: Make the Legs
Decide how high you want your table to be then work out how long you want the legs to be.
In my case the table was to be 75 cm high and this worked out perfectly with the 3 m of 28 mm copper pipe I had. Once I had deducted the thickness of the scaffold boards, and the space for the 'securing tabs' (see below), all I had to do was cut the 3 m length into four 75 cm sections.
A pipe cutter is a clean, accurate, quiet, convenient way to do this.
Drill four holes in the end of each end of each section of pipe. Mine were located approximately 24 mm from the end of the pipe.
N.B. PLEASE be careful using angle grinders. I have seen quite a few injuries from these (very useful) tools, and I recently had to have a doctor use a hypodermic needle to dig 7 pieces of metal out of my eyes, after grinding an iron sailboat keel in strong winds. I was wearing glasses instead of goggles and after several hours of grinding, the metal dust blew in behind my glasses and got well and truly embedded in my eyes. Please learn from my mistakes, rather than making them yourself...
Use a cutting disc on an angle grinder to cut down from the end of the pipe to the hole, and then across the pipe to the adjacent hole, thus making a castellated effect at the end of each pipe.
(Alternatively you can just cut straight down to the 4 holes and this will give you 4 securing tabs per end, instead of the 2 per end that I had - the choice is yours.)
Shape and tidy the securing tabs using a flapper (sandpaper) disc on an angle grinder. A final sand using a sanding sponge or sandpaper on a block will finish off the securing tabs.
Centre punch and drill a hole in each securing tab.
Step 6: Attach the Legs to the Table and Design the Bracing
Screw the legs on to the table using self-tapping screws through the securing tabs you have just created.
Whether you use 2 tabs per end, or 4, the table WILL be wobbly at this stage. Don't worry, this will go away when we ad our smaller diameter bracing to the table.
Now you can design the bracing for your table. Here are some tips:
45 degree angles will give as much support to the legs as much as possible.
You will want bracing to support the table in all directions (Forwards/backwards and left/right).
Think about where your chairs will be and therefore which areas need to be left free of bracing.
Step 7: Make and Fit the Bracing
Now it's time to make and fit the bracing. In my case I cut the 3 m length of copper pipe into 4 equal sections so that I could use the full length of each of these to add 4 sections of bracing at 45 degrees to the legs.
Cut the pipe as before.
Flatten the end of the pipe. I don't have a vice at home, so I sandwiched the pipe between two off-cuts of scaffold board and hit them hard with the back of a heavy axe, which did the job perfectly.
Bend the pipe ends to the required angles. This can be done easily and neatly, as long as you clamp the pipe between two pieces of wood as above.
Round the flattened end of the pipe to roughly match the diameter of the leg. (I used a pair of pliers as a form and hit the pipe with a small round 'log' of firewood. Very crude, but it worked.)
Thoroughly sand the surfaces to be soldered, heat the leg and brace with a propane torch, and feed the gap with some solder which is drawn in via capillary action once the correct temperature is reached.
Once the brace is soldered to the leg, screw the pre-drilled upper end of the brace to the underside of the table.
Afterwards, drill each soldered leg-brace joint and add self-tapping screws for extra strength. (If you drill the correct diameter hole for the screws you are using, screws will tap threads into copper as you tighten them.)
Repeat this process until all bracing is added and there is no more 'wobbling' of the legs.
Step 8: Secure the Table to the Floor, and Enjoy!
The copper can be: sanded to bright metal; polished with abrasive pads and vinegar then varnished; or left in its natural rustic state. The choice is yours.
Screw the table to the floor, carry out an optional one-legged load test, and then enjoy the fruits of your labour!
Without exaggeration, this table has hugely improved my family's daily life. My wife, daughter and I eat there together a couple of times every day, and we really enjoy bird watching and feeling connected to nature, as apposed to looking at an internal wall in our dining room. My only regret is not making this years ago!
Happy building, and if you are inspired to make something as a result of this Instructable, please post all the details in a comment below!