Large Cable Drum Table




I managed to get hold a large drum that was in pretty good nick and decided to try an make an outdoor table.


1. Large cable drum
2. Sanding materials
3. 0000 steel wool, vinegar and tea for stain
4. Marine grade poly
5. Paint


1. Jigsaw
2. Recip saw (as my jigsaw couldn't quit make it all the way through)
3. Sander


Step 1:

Take your drum and work out which is the best side to be the top and bottom of the table. Often one side will be better.

Punch in any protruding nails and then give the whole thing a good wash down with some sort of wood cleaner, or washing up liquid.

Next step is to cut off excess material from the foot of the table. I simply picked a sensible spot given placement of all the nails etc and then measured how far it was from the edge of the drum. I then just went round and marked that length offf all the way round to get my cutting line.

Once that is done you can dril a couple of pilot holes to get the jigsaw going. My blades weren't quite long enough so I had to finish it off with my reciprocating saw

Now get sanding - I went from 80-120 which was smooth enough for the tabletop

For the top, you might want to fill in any nail holes or splits in the wood. I just used a mixture of wood glue mixed with dust collected from sanding. Once that's dry, get the sander out again to clear excess glue

Step 2:

Once you are happy with the table, put on a coat of primer for the foot and the column of that table and then get painting. 2-3 coats of a good outdoor paint should do.

For the top, I wanted to try a homemade stain that I had read about. First step is put some 0000 steel wool into a jar filled with vinegar and leave for 2-3 days. If the steel doesn't start rusting, just lift it out for 5 mins or so and then put back in. Make sure you don't completely seal this jar as it will create hydrogen, and obviously make sure it is in a well ventilated space. When you are ready to stain, brew another jar full of tea using a couple of tea bags and allow to cool,

Give the table a brush over with the tea and then allow to dry. Then brush over the vinegar mix (strain it first). This mixture will react with the tannins in the tea and 'age' the wood. Give it a couple of hours to fully complete this process.

I then applied 5 coats of marine grade poly, sanding between each coat to finish it off. Because it's an external poly, it did darken things up more than I intended, but doesn't look to bad,

I now have the excess timber 'donut' to play with that I might make some matching benches out of.

Step 3:

Here's the final table. I also undid the bolts and cleaned them up a bit with the grinder.



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    7 Discussions


    Question 2 months ago on Step 3

    How large in diameter is the drum? I'm thinking about doing this for a kitchenette type table. Very cool!


    3 years ago

    Take a drive around your local industrial areas and look for electrical contractors/ wholesalers - they will usually have a stack of the them and might part with one. Sometimes you will also see them on new housing developments under construction. Otherwise keep an eye on your local buy and sell Internet sites. Cheers


    3 years ago on Introduction

    At the risk of sounding ignorant, where does one look for cable drums?


    3 years ago

    MRBENN - it's very sturdy. Have had to flip it a number of times and takes a lot of effort. These are very heavy drums even though they are just pine!

    Just4Fun - thanks. Getting it to painting /varnishing stage only takes a few hours of sanding and filling in gaps/ holes. Then it slows down a bit as you are having to wait 12 - 24 hours between coats of paint/ varnish.


    3 years ago

    how sturdy is it ? the base looks quite small and it seems quite top heavy.

    Just4Fun Media

    3 years ago

    That table looks beautiful! How long did it take to build/refinish?

    Have a great day! :-)