Learn how to turn an old whiskey barrel into an amazing whiskey barrel coffee table. The table top is hinged which makes the furniture a functional whiskey barrel chest to hold blankets and other items.
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I found a few barrels locally in Montana from a super nice guy who was selling them on Craigslist. I feel like I got a great deal because I paid 0 for the full barrel and for the pre-cut half barrels. If you get a full barrel you’ll need to cut it in half using a jigsaw or sawzall.
Use a prybar to remove the metal bands. The bands are most likely secured with nails and so they should pop right off. Do not take the end bands off, because the barrel will fall apart if you do. Use a rubber mallet to flush up the boards if they stick out farther than they should. Do your best to get them somewhat even with each other.
Lightly sand the barrel using 220 grit sandpaper to remove debris and smooth out the barrel. Wipe or brush stain on the barrel. I used “Special Walnut” stain from Minwax.
Let the stain dry and then put the metal bands back in place. You will be able to line the holes up on the bands with the old nail holes that are still in the wood. Use 1 inch screws to re-connect the bands. The screws are helpful compared to nails because they will sometimes pull on boards to even them out.
The next step is to build the base out of 2×12’s. I cut two 2×12’s to 27 inches which is the widest part of the barrel. The width of the barrel at this portion was 25 inches. So, I put a mark on the 2×12 at 13.5″ which was the center of the wood. I then measure down 3 inches and marked where the two points met. Next, take the width of the barrel where the base will sit (25 inches in my case), and divide by two to get 12.5″.
The barrel base pieces will have a nice arc after they are cut out with a jigsaw. Test the base pieces with the barrel. You can make adjustments using a jigsaw or a a flap sander on an angle grinder. Use a level and tape measure to make sure the barrel is level and sits even.
Attach the whiskey barrel to the base using 3 inch wood screws. Drill pilot holes first so the wood does not split. It’s time to build the apron around the top of the barrel. The total length of the barrel was 37 inches so I cut two pieces of 1×4 board to 37 inches. The total width of the barrel at its widest point is 27 inches. I flushed up the 1×4 with the barrel and then cut two pieces 20 inches long for the sides.
Connect the 1×4 apron pieces using a kreg jig. Drill 2 pocket holes on the ends of both shorter boards. Next, use 1 1/4 inch kreg screws to connect the boards. Center the apron on the barrel and attach using 1 1/2 inch wood screws. Make sure to pre-drill so the wood does not split. Cut a 1×2 or 1×3 board to use for the decorative base piece. Mine was 29 inches long (2 inches longer than the 2×12 base piece). Bevel the ends at 45 degree angles.
Cut four 1×8 boards for the table top. My whiskey barrel was 37 inches so I cut these boards to 38 inches. The extra inch makes a half inch lip on each side so you can easily open or close the chest. Next, use a Kreg Jig to drill pocket holes in the boards. Attach chest hinges to the back side of the apron.
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