Outdoor Coffee Table




We had been wanting to replace our glass outdoor table with something smaller, more relaxed and possibly more intimate. So we figured a coffee table would be nice to sit around the chiminea with.

Visiting a recycling center, we came across some rusty, old, steel trolleys for $10 and thought they'd make a great base.

I found a small pallet of what the guy referred to as "hardwood" at a salvage yard for $50. All I knew about it was it as gray and heavy!  When I got home and released the carry straps, the inside edges showed some nice color and heaps more character.
I used under half of it for this project and the remaining half is thicker pieces, but appears to be the same wood.

Initially we were aiming to make the table look old and weathered and you can see from some of the initial pictures when I was laying out the wood to work out the best design, that it looked pretty aged and colorful. However, as I started to plane the inside edges in preparation to join the wood, I really liked the colors it exposed and decided to finish it nice and squarely and to protect it with oil.

So, basic steps:
1. Ground the lumpy bits of steel from the trolley with an angle grinder.
2. Painted an oxidizer on the exposed (shiny, clean) steel to rust it up - left it exposed to the elements for a week.
3. Sorted through the wood and worked out the pieces that I could use with the least wastage.
3. Played with the design a little.. eg. did I want it 8inches high or just over 12? to cover the trolley completely or make it a feature?
4. Cut the broken and damaged edges off the wood I selected and planed the inner edges.
5. Cut the table top pieces to the same length.
6. Cut the leg pieces to the same width as the trolley.
7. Glued and sash clamped the table top, let it dry overnight.
8. Planed and belt sanded the top and bottom of the table top, paying more attention to the top, and getting the bottom roughly flat so it would sit nicely on the legs.
9. Glued and screwed the legs to the table top, making sure they would align with the bar of the trolley when I went to join them.
10. Oiled the wood with two coats of decking oil. Buffed it up a little.
11. Sprayed a rust protector clear coat over the rusty trolley.
12. Move table top and trolley to the outdoor area in separate pieces (too heavy/too many obstacles to assemble and then move!)
13. Attached the trolley to the base of the table (rested it on some plywood off cuts I had so as not to damage the top or edges on the paving)

14. Debate whether to use it indoors or outdoors!



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    9 Discussions


    2 years ago

    Where did you find the recycling center? I need to find a place like this in so cal :P


    4 years ago

    What a great find the trolley was. But you paid WAY too much for the wood. Most places will give the pallets away for free. You did a beautiful job on this table. Thanks for the I'ble and your time.

    1 reply

    6 years ago on Introduction

    This is stunning! I think it may become a summer project for me :)


    6 years ago on Introduction

    that looks fantastic ! great way to repurpose and add a conversation piece to your yard


    6 years ago on Introduction

    Nice table. Good choice to leave the trolley as it was, gives it real character. The wood is great, hope I come across a bargain like that soon!



    7 years ago on Introduction

    That is absolutely gorgeous! Great idea adding the trolley - I'm sure it's a beast to move otherwise.