Recycled Fence Butcher Block Style Table




Wind storms, hail storms and/or just upgrading your fencing around your backyard, the fence panels are now broken down and lay waste.  You could just truck it off to the nearest dump, burn it and make a heck of a fire(not recommended), or recycle it.  The wood planks are still mostly in good shape, a bit worn looking, but still in good shape.

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Step 1: Supplies

You will need to have wood, old wood preferably.  Please don't tear down your neighbors fence, you could wait till you do that all important(honey-do) fence upgrade or wait for the neighbors to upgrade.  Check with your local fencing company, they may let you have the panels they are replacing.  Please enjoy my first instructable!

You could use the standard butcher block standard of using glue, but I opt to use bolts instead..

Parts for one in-table:
- 31x planks cut to roughly at 24"  lengths
-  2x 5/8"-11-2'  all thread rods, 24" lengths
-  4x 5/8"-11 nuts 
-  4x 5/8 flat  washers
-  4x wood screws 
-  60 grit sand paper
- 100 grit sand paper
- 150 grit sand paper
- 320 grit sand paper or steel wool
-  polyurethane sealer
- 1x 5 gallon bucket

Tools needed:

- Jigsaw, Table Saw, Miter Saw, Hand Saw or something, to make the plank cuts.
- Drill press or Drill, to make the all thread holes
- Wrench or Socket, to tighten the nuts
- a hammer, to pull the nails
- a screwdriver or gun
- Sanding Block or Electric Sander
- Tape Measure
- 7/8 Spade Bit, for the holes
- something to mark lines or holes
- brushes, for polyurethane
- understanding,  from significant other 


I am not responsible if you get in trouble, if you tear down your neighbors fencing.  Please obtain your wood planks according to local laws and ordinances.  Please read all safety material for your tools.  Please use a well ventilated area when using polyurethane and read the instructions on the can.

Step 2: Wood Prep: Pointy Things

You will need to remove the nails or screws from the wood.  The nails or screws are more than likely rusted, please be careful.

Hammer the points of the nails enough till head is high enough on the other side to pull the nail out.  Unscrew the screws if possible. 

Step 3: Wood Prep: Cuts

Cut your planks in 24" ish sections, I say ish, because I was using a Jig Saw and my cuts were never excactly 24".  Plus the jagged look adds character, =).  I cut one plank and used it as a template.

Step 4: Wood Prep: the Holes

I measured 4 inches from the cuts on each end and 2 inches from the edges, to drill the holes.  I used one plank as a template.  To make sure that holes would line up, I marked the top edge that would show, because not every plank was exactly the same width.  

I made a jig to line up the top edge and the hole cuts.

Step 5: Make the Stack

Take the All Thread rods, put a washer on each, then a nut on each.  Start putting your planks on, make sure the top mark is on the same side as the rest. 

You will notice that after you put all the planks on, it will be taller than the All Thread.  You will need to compress or push the planks down till you can get the washers and nuts on.  You may have to loosen the nuts on the other side to give enough room for the other side.

Step 6: Bolt It Down

Take your stack and lay on a flat surface, with top down.  Since the drilled holes are bigger than the All Thread, you have some adjustment give, to lay it down flat and even.

Start to tighten the nuts evenly.  The stack will compress.  Use your own judgement on how tight the nuts will be.

Step 7: Attaching the Base

I choose a 5 gallon bucket, because I had some lying around.  I was planing on using galvanized pipe legs, but costs prevented me from taking this plan.  These get thrown away all the time.

Measure the center of the table and screw your bucket down.  Remove the handle, as this may get in the way.

You may wonder as the stability of this is.  It is stable enough to put small stuff on, like a light lamp or something.  This may get upgraded to pipe legs or half of a wood barrel eventually., who knows. 

Step 8: Sanding

To reveal  the good wood beneath, we will need to sand it.  I started with a 60 grit sand paper.  The old layer sands off quickly.  Then move up the grit to 100 and farther if you desire.  Watch for splinters, they hurt.  Remember to remove the dust from your sander and project often.  When your happy with the results, move on.

Step 9: Sealing

Since this a in-table, I am not preparing the surface for food safety, I just want to protect the wood from spills.  You can scale up  this project for food use, but please research surface preparation for food safety.

I used a clear water-based Polyurethane to seal the wood.  Please follow the directions on the can for proper use.

This is the slow process of the project.  Brush one layer on, wait a couple of hours, brush another layer on, wait a couple hours again.. and so on...  You may want to sand lightly with 320 grit between 2 or 3 coats, you could also use steel wool to smooth it out, I used grade #0000 on the last two coats.  Put as many layers on your table as you desire.

Info on Polyurethane Sealing ~ here ~


Step 10: Done!

All done, now for one more in-table, coffee table, and a lamp... haha...

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    20 Discussions


    Great instructable, though rather than sand the top flush i would of recommended planing it, so as to avoid the nasty sandpaper, and it get's the job done much quicker. I also would used thicker pieces at the ends, so that the bolts could be counter sunk and plugged. but each to their own. I think I may have to make one now purely to see if my own idea's really do make an improvement :P but over all great stuff.

    1 reply

    I took inspiration from this, but First I used Ebony stain on half, and Lighter brown stain on the other half. then, I glued them together with elmers, plained all the surfaces, then sealed them back up with polyurethane. It has a nice 'striped' look, as the glue did not take the tint in the poly and the dark and light really contrasted well. I put a piece of glass on top and we use it as a coffee table. our pet duck has made his nest under it, and he LOVES when we put a warm plate on it, as the heat seeps through it. But I digress.
    Beautiful work, and the bolt system allows you to take it apart should the need arise.



    7 years ago on Introduction

    Can I ask why you used these bolts instead of just gluing? Would have given a really nice finish to it? Apart from that really nice idea I plan on trying this when i replace our fence.

    1 reply

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    I hope this helps. Glue would have sealed the grain and not let the planks to, " breath together." Using the rod lets the planks move a little left/ right and up/ down with out sudden changes to the overall unit. Using a center post was a great idea ; on budget or buy design ; saves having to bye any other materials. If I'm mistaken on this please let me know.

    Great idea! I have heaps of leftover palings from a fencing job that was done here and they offered for me to keep the palings.

    I would definitely have to seal them in some way because these are treated pine palings - any suggestions?

    1 reply

    With the little research I have done on treated Pine, it is treated with a type of preservative to extend the durability for decades. For sealing, as for non-eating purpose, I would just use the water-based Polyurethane to seal the wood. For a food surface, more steps must be taken. Wiki was down today, but this page helped on sealing for food use.

    Our other members might have a better answer. =).


    7 years ago on Introduction

    One other idea when your making these is to use carpenter glue between each board.
    That will help hold the boars together.
    I did that when I made my last table, BUT! I never thought of using old fence plank's.
    Thanks for that idea.
    Gve you 5 stars for that idea.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    this is a GREAT idea ! another good source is fence companies, they usually remove the old fence when installing the new and so have lots to get rid of, there are a few in my area who will even deliver for a small fee. Did you consider using the same system to build the legs? I think that would work well especially for a coffee table, if you did it for the end table you could even add a shelve (built right into the legs)

    7 replies

    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    I did think of adding some of the leftover wood for the legs after I got it done.. Never know I still might go with that idea. Thanks for the comment, ;)


    Reply 8 years ago on Introduction

    It would be nice to "intercalate" the legs into the slats for a future project. The top would be something like this:


    Then the legs would get inserted in the spaces.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    I'm sorry, but this is gonna drive me nuts -- it's called an "end table" ('cause ya put it at the 'end' of yer sofa --hyuk, hyuk ;^} ) Other-wise, I love the idea. I made a bench out of some old fence boards. I was thinking of also making a table top for our worn out patio furniture - this just might be the perfect solution!!!