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