Wine Barrel Table: Give an old barrel a new life

I recently came across a used half barrel that the local pub was throwing out. It was almost ready to fall to pieces as two of the bands had fallen off and the top one was also ready to fall off. It would be very difficult to reassemble, so I carefully put the bands back on and took it home. I knew there was a good use for it, but I wasn’t sure what that was at the time.

Photos by Warrick Smith

I knew I wanted to use the barrel for some sort of furniture project, but I was not sure what to make with it until I saw the nice graphics on the top. I sanded the top back and put furniture oil on it to make the art stand out. It looked good when I finished so I decided to keep the graphic, which would mean keeping the top intact. My first thought was to convert the barrel into a coffee table, but as the project progressed, the missus said she liked the height of the table and would like it on the deck next to her chair.

I decided to make the table with three legs as they don’t rock around on uneven surfaces, which would be best for outdoor furniture. If you have all of your materials ready to go, it should take only a few hours to build from start to finish, especially if you have help — I convinced my kids to help me with the sanding and staining.

The basic premise of the project is to mark out the legs and cut them out with a reciprocating hand saw. Once you have the legs cut out, you can remove the bottom ring, reinforce the top ring and do some sanding and staining. Aside from the task of acquiring the actual barrel, you don’t need too many tools or supplies (see list below), especially if you already like to construct woodworking projects at home.

As is the case with any woodworking project, always be safe. Be sure to use eye protection when sawing, grinding, sanding and hammering, and also build your barrel table in a well-ventilated area or outside where you won’t inhale fumes from any wood treatments or finish.

I enjoy building my own projects, many of which you can check out on the Web at (find my posts at In addition to my wine barrel table project I also made a fruit bowl with some of the left over barrel planks. After making the table, I spent a long time sitting and thinking on a pile of the oak barrel planks, which were curved and tapered, making them difficult to work with. So the fruit bowl idea was a great way to use some of that leftover wood. You can make your own fruit bowls with most of the same tools you use for this table project along with some wood glue and a few wood clamps. A coat of furniture oil makes the wine stain on the inside of the

timber darker, which gives the bowl an unusual look. (In addition to my other build-it projects on Instructables, you can also see some great photos of my kids helping me out with building the projects.)

Materials & Tools

  • a used 60-gallon (225-L) wine barrel
  • sand paper grits 40, 80, 120, 240  
  • matte black paint (or your color of choice) 
  • 3 or 4 coach bolts with washers and nuts
  • drill and drill bits
  • 3 or 4 wood screws   
  • small nail or tacks  
  • hammer  
  • jig saw (reciprocating saw)  
  • clean rags  
  • your favorite timber finish  
  • angle grinder, with sanding disc