Refinished Whiskey Barrel Table

Since moving back to the states JG and I have been getting into building stuff.  We’ve been having fun meandering through Home Depot and slowly expanding our tool collection.  Our first little project was creating a small coffee table made from an old whiskey barrel we found at Home Depot.   I really liked the barrel the way we bought it, all worn and rusty.  However, JG was convinced it would look better sanded down and refinished.  Below is the before picture:

We originally went to Home Depot in search of THIS barrel.  We couldn’t find it anywhere, but were able to find the above barrel.  Honestly, I like the barrel we came home with much better than the one we went  in for.

In the barrels previous life it was a Jack Daniel barrel; you could smell the old sour whiskey and everything (super gross, but it’s authentic, right?).  The best part, the wood was from Eugene, Oregon!  We currently live in Georgia, but are originally from Oregon,  it felt special to find something from home all they way out here.

STEP 1: Washing and Sanding

The very first thing we did was wash, rewash and wash again.  It was super smelly, and it had bugs (probably attracted to the sour whiskey smell).  After giving it a good scrub down we slid the barrel rings off and sanded all the rust off.   JG used a belt sander with 50 and 100 grit sandpaper.  Below is a before and after picture of the barrel rings.

 STEP 2:  Sanding the Staves

After finishing the rings JG took the barrel apart and sanded each individual stave with the belt sander using 50, 120 and 220 grit (depending on how smooth you want it, you can get away with less sanding).  Before he took the staves a part he numbered each of them with a small piece of tape so he could put them back in the same order.

After sanding everything down we wiped the staves down with tack cloth and  slapped two coats of Minwax Polyshades Stain and Polyurethane Classic Oak Gloss on the slats and rings.  We allowed six hours for each coat to dry.  After everything was dry we put the barrel back together and filled it with boiling water to make the wood expand into a nice tight fit within the rings.  In order to keep the two top rings from falling down we screwed four bolts into each ring.

For the top of our table we used a 36″ round tempered glass table top from an old coffee table.  I was able to find a table top on Amazon (30″ Round Glass, 1/4″ Thick, Tempered table top) for about  $43 plus shipping.  The size of glass you need depends on the size of your barrel.  I would also suggest trolling Craigslist until you find somebody selling a cheap table with a correct sized table top.  To secure the glass on top we used an adhesive foam strip.

    Below is the final product!

We originally envisioned this table as an outdoor patio table, but it ultimately came  to live in our living room:
 Current House:Diy Restoration Hardware
Old House:
Diy Barrel table



Comments

  1. says

    This was way harder and a lot messier than we expected! We used yalls blog as an outline but had to improvise along the way. How did you get the barrel so clean? Ours still has a “rustic” look to it. Instead of putting in the boiling water we cut out plywood in a circle to fit a few inches down and filled the rest up with corks. We are so proud of our new table! Thanks for the guide!

    • says

      Do you mean clean on the inside or the outside? The inside scrubbing, water/boiling water. The outside LOTS and LOTS of sanding. Taking the entire barrel apart and numbering the individual staves made sanding much easier. We definitely underestimated the amount of time this project would take.

      I LOVE the cork idea! Also putting plywood in is a really great idea! We’ve talked about different things we could put in the barrel but can’t seem to come to an agreement. Glad you like your new table!!

  2. says

    This was way harder and a lot messier than we expected! We used yalls blog as an outline but had to improvise along the way. How did you get the barrel so clean? Ours still has a “rustic” look to it. Instead of putting in the boiling water we cut out plywood in a circle to fit a few inches down and filled the rest up with corks. We are so proud of our new table! Thanks for the guide!

  3. Heather says

    Hi there! I am doing this same coffee table for outside! My question is how did you secure the glass top evenly all the way around? So that it’s even glass edge all the way around? Was there a trick you did or just eyeball it? Thanks a bunch!!

  4. michele monahan says

    Your table is beautiful! I’m currently redoing an entire whole whiskey barrel and I wasn’t going to wash out the inside cause I don’t know how without cutting the bottom out. But now I’m concerned about bugs also. What did you use to wash out your barrel?

    • Ginger & The Huth says

      Thank you! We didn’t use much, just a lot of scrubbing and a mixture of the hose and hot water.

    • says

      I break down whiskey barrels for projects very regularly. On a whole barrel, bugs are highly unlikely if you got it straight from the distillery. That being said, you can either remove the top 3 rings and then pry the barrel head out to wash the inside, or you can just pull the bung out and run water through the hole, and simply roll it over to let the water drain. I think removing the top 3 rings and head will be more effective since it will give you the ability to scrub the inside of the barrel. I mean, you’re gong to have to pull those rings off anyways if you’re going to fully restore it.

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