When I found some wine barrels at our local university for $50 I bought 5 of them. I wanted to try and make something different with each barrel. I looked on Pinterest for inspiration and saw one similar to this with a fire pit in the middle. This gave me the idea to add a wine bucket in the middle where your ice, wine and drinks can be stored while you are sitting around the table chatting. They were all mainly rustic which is not a look I like. The girly side of me wants my projects to look pretty so they will look great inside and out. This tutorial combines a few of my wine barrel tables showing tips and tricks I learnt along the way.
How to make a wine barrel table with built-in wine bucket
Find a wine barrel
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Wine barrel furniture has become more common today with DIYers finding new and creative ways to repurpose them. I was lucky enough to get my hands on a few wine barrel from our local university. They offer a winemaking course and after a period of time, the barrels must be replaced. So they were happy to sell them on to me for $50 each Australian, which is a bargain.
Some of the wine barrels had sat in the elements for a long time and there was still a very strong smell of red wine inside the barrels. I tried to fill them up with water and a cup of bleach, but it kept leaking out the gaps between the staves caused by shrinkage. But I persisted, and every few hours I went out and topped up the water. It is a good idea to do this on a hot day because the combination of the heat from the sun and the water made the wood expand again stopping the water from leaking. I left the water and bleach to sit in the barrel for a few days. Then drained the barrel and left it to dry in the sun for a week.
Removing the bands
This was surprisingly very easy. I used a chunk of wood and put it on the rim of the band and hit it with a hammer. They just popped off. It is a good idea to number the bands so you know where to put them back. DO NOT remove the top or bottom band or your barrel will fall apart. Once my bands were off I was able to use a belt sander using 80grit paper which was so much faster. I used an orbital sander starting with 120grit sanding discs and ending with 240grit sanding discs for my final surface.
Clean the wine barrel surface
I have used two methods to do this over the years. The first one is to leave the bands on and use an orbital sander. This method took a long time and I found the bands were catching on the sanding discs and ripping them. The second was to remove the bands and use a belt sander. While both worked great the belt sander was by far faster. I always did my final sand using the orbital sander and 240 grit sanding discs.
Paint the bands and stain the wood
While the bands are off this is a good time to paint them. I used flat black spray paint on mine. I painted the bands with 2 coats of spray paint and left them over a pole to dry. I stained my barrel using cedar stain and added 2 coats of oil-based outdoor varnish. To put the bands back on was as simple as putting the band back over the barrel and tapping the thin side of the band with a chunk of wood and a hammer. To keep the bands in place if the wood does shrink again, I pre-drilled a hole in the bands and used screws to each stave in place. I also felt this gave the wine barrel a nicer cosmetic look.
Adding a hole for the wine bucket.
You need to find a suitable bucket first. All the wine buckets I found were all too small for what I had in mind, so I used a 25L stainless steel bucket. You need to use a bucket that has a lip on the top to prevent the bucket from falling through the hole. The handle can be removed if you don’t want it, I removed mine.
For some bizarre reason, I have no pictures of this step even though I have made 4 of these tables. But let me explain how you do it. I found the centre of the top of the wine barrel. I used a compass and drew the circle the diameter of the wine bucket under the lip. Just be aware the all wine barrels are not a perfect circle. Using a drill and large drill bit and drill a pilot hole inside the circle for the jigsaw to fit through and cut out the circle. The inside circle may need to be sanded if you jigsaw skills are a little wobbly. The wine bucket should fit inside snuggly. This is how it should fit in the end.
Making the apron
To make the tops of the wine barrels I use mainly recycled tabletops. I go onto facebook market place and look for free tables, they are usually not in great shape but with some light sanding and they work perfectly. If they are too thin I reinforce them with plywood to get my thick piece. On average my table apron is around 1.2m and 60mm thick. One of the first tops I made was thin and as soon as some weight was added it snapped.
When I first started making these tables I used a jigsaw to cut out the tops, but most of the time I ended up with a sloping edge which was not a good look. And it took me hours to fix. Then I saw this on google and this method works great.
Cutting the Apron
I found it easier but more time consuming to use a wood router but the circles turned out great. The idea is to turn your router into a cutting jig. To do this, I removed the base plate from the router and screwed the router into a piece of plywood. The centre of the wood is marked and you drill a small hole for a screw or nail. I countersank the screws so they did not scratch the wood with all the passes.
Next, find the centre of your wood and drill a hole for the nail to secure the jig in place. It is important that the jig does not move during the cutting or your circle will end up a mess.
The inside circle is the size of the outside of the wine barrel top. I measured from the centre to the outside edged and used a compass to draw the circle. The inner circle of the apron is more tricky to cut because the top of the wine barrel is slopped. The first ones I made I cut straight and then used a grinder with a sanding discs to remove the slope.
This was extremely time-consuming because you would grind away at the wood then do a test fit. Lifting the top on and off all the time was hard work and it could go on for hours.
4 barrels down and my method now is to put the angle of the jigsaw blade to the same angle as the slope and cut. This works great but you still some sanding with the grinder because the barrels are not always a perfect circle at the top.
Securing the top to the wine barrel
I could not figure out how others attached the tabletop I zoomed in on the images but could not see how they had done it. So this is the way I attached mine to the barrel, and it must be good because a company that makes wine barrel furniture said so lol. I would love to hear how others have done it. Once I was happy with the fit of the top I used a spirit level to level out the tabletop.
I used a drill and a large drill bit to drill a hole through the inside of the wine barrel lip and into the centre of the inside of the tabletop. You will need to use a countersink drill bit to drill the wood so the head of the bolt fits snug inside the rim. I used some large carriage bolts to go through the sides and into the tabletop and that secured the tabletop so it did not move. (sees image below).
Making the lid
Because I was left with the piece of wood that I cut out of the centre of the tabletop, instead of wasting it I used it to make a lid. I thought a lid would be a good idea. You can take it off while you are all sitting around the table. And when you are finished you replace the lid and you have a great looking table. The first table I made I just rested the lid on the inside of the wine barrel, but because the insides of wine barrels are not always straight it did have a slight wobble. And to be honest, the extra work sanding the inside so it fits nice was far to much work.
On my next barrel, I used a router and removed the excess wood just under the lid which would catch on the sloping part of the barrel. And 4 barrels later and I still did not take a picture of the inside of the lid. Once the excess is removed the lid should just sit on the rim of the wine barrel. This is a far better look (See image below).
Add a latch to lift the lid
To be able to lift the lid off I fitted a flush latch. I used a hammer and chisel and removed the excess wood until the latch fitted properly. I took the top apart again ready for sanding using 180grit through too 240 grit using an orbital sander. I stained the top and added 3 coats of marine varnish. Because not all my tabletops were solid wood, you could see the plywood underneath them. To hide the unsightly plywood edge, I used a strip of aluminium which was screwed into the apron.
For the table below I used a veneer over the plywood because I loved the woodgrain pattern but it dented very easily. I add epoxy resin to the surface and it turned out awesome.
For more great ideas to upcycle a wine barrel check out these posts
Personalized wine barrel table.
Wine barrel table with Greek key design
Or this great firewood stand made from the recycled bands.
Looking for new ideas for your next DIY project why not try this Unique wooden suncatcher for your garden.
If you are looking for any of the items used in this project, please consider using our links. By clicking on the links we will earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Which helps us come up with new and exciting ideas to share with you. Please feel free to share or leave a comment we would love to hear your thoughts.
Bruce GambleApril 7, 2017 at 10:26 am
Great job ! I have some experience with working with wine barrels and think your table is better than anything I came up with. I would like to know where and how you placed the large anchor bolts so that the heads did not spoil the great looking top you placed on the barrel.
Your finish work is also stellar.
Bet you get lots of complements from your guests when you have them over for an event.
Hope to hear from you, and again, job very well done.
Anita HollandApril 7, 2017 at 12:38 pm
Thanks for your kind words very nice to hear. The anchor bolts are drilled through the top lip of the barrel and straight into the center of the counter top. I have learnt from doing a few of these that it is better to have the lid sitting on the top of the barrel rather than sitting inside because the insides are not always level. The bolts are also counter sunk into the top and to get my lid to sit nice and tidy and not catch on the lid, I also routered out a section under the lid to make sure the lid does not catch on the bolt heads. Hope this answers your question if not let me know.
LyraMay 29, 2018 at 1:43 am
I like the idea of using the aluminum band. Where did you purchase it and does it have a specific name?
Anita HollandMay 30, 2018 at 7:21 am
I bought it from a company that sells glass and aluminium. I am not too sure what they used it for. I saw it by chance when I went to get a mirror cut. It was just a strip of aluminium which they cut to size for me. It cost me $8 which I thought was good. It was thin so it moulded to the sides really easy.
Lyra StroudMay 30, 2018 at 1:33 pm
Thanks for responding. Gives the table a nice finished look.
Anita HollandJune 3, 2018 at 12:22 am
Lydia C. LeeMarch 31, 2020 at 7:23 am
YOu’ve been busy!
Anita HollandMarch 31, 2020 at 1:48 pm
I made a few on these, but the phase has passed. lol
Karen, the next best thing to mummyApril 2, 2020 at 7:56 pm
Love this, my husband makes his own wine, but not enough to need a barrel#,alittlebitofeverything@_karendennis
Anita HollandApril 5, 2020 at 5:01 pm
Thank you so much, I tend to stick to bottles too. The wine barrels were sourced from the university that makes wine. lol
Dee | Grammy's GridApril 3, 2020 at 7:18 pm
Great job! Thanks so much for linking up with me at my #UnlimitedMonthlyLinkParty 11, open April 1 to 26. All entries shared on social media if share buttons installed. I’d like to invite you to check out my other current link parties too!
Anita HollandApril 5, 2020 at 5:01 pm
Chas GreenerApril 4, 2020 at 1:44 am
How fun is this! Great idea, and looks absolutely beautiful. Thanks for sharing.
Anita HollandApril 5, 2020 at 5:02 pm
Thank you so much, Chas.
MarthaApril 5, 2020 at 9:48 am
What a creative idea and we love wine this will be perfect for our yard happy I saw your link at fortheloveto thanks for sharing
Anita HollandApril 5, 2020 at 5:05 pm
Thank you so much Martha, very kind of you to say.
CeciliaApril 6, 2020 at 1:42 am
What a clever project–love it! Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm!
Anita HollandApril 8, 2020 at 9:57 am
Thank you so much, Cecilia.
Julie BrionesApril 7, 2020 at 11:42 am
What a ‘cool’ table, Anita! 😉 Love the built-in ice bucket! Thanks for sharing a Tuesday Turn About! Pinned!
Anita HollandApril 8, 2020 at 9:58 am
Thank you, I thought I was being clever. lol
Renata Lopes SanchesMay 9, 2020 at 2:59 am
What a Great idea!!! This table looks absolutely beautiful and cool. Do you have all the detail instructions on how to make it that you could email me with? I would love to make this table. The site as so many advertisement, I was wondering if you can send me the details used so I can try to make it. Thanks for sharing.
DesAugust 19, 2021 at 12:50 pm
Love your barrel. Could you tell me what brand and color you used to stain the barrel?
Desiree SullivanAugust 22, 2021 at 2:34 am
Hi Anita. One more question. How did you clean the inside of your barrel? I recently sanded mine and got it ready for staining. I left it outside in the rain before staining and now it’s purple and black:( I never cleaned the inside of it. Any suggestions? I want to keep it outside after I stain and seal it