On Sunday I was ready to purchase all the parts I needed for my pipe table. I went back to get the rest of my pipe pieces, then I went to choose my lumber. I got a mix of clean spruce 2×4’s and 2×6’s. Make sure you pick out unblemished and unwarped studs. And also make sure the “prettiest” side of the stud (the presentation side) doesn’t have any grade stamps on it – unless that’s your thing.
The staff at Home Depot will cut your lumber to size for you, as long as you’re not building something like, say, a house or a room addition. This is a great benefit for apartment dwellers like us who may not be able to run a table saw conveniently. I had my chosen studs trimmed and got all the pipe pieces on my list and happily headed home in SUV (Sedan Utility Vehicle!).
I’ve made the assumption so far that you’ve got the tools you need but in case you don’t, here are my suggestions:
- My drill driver is the Makita LXFD01CW 18-Volt Compact Lithium-Ion Cordless 1/2-Inch Driver-Drill Kit. This is a really sturdy drill that will last you many, many years. Having two batteries is a must because you just don’t want to stop in the middle of a job to wait for a recharge.
- I have a DeWalt set of screwdriver bits. You need a kit with a good assortment of Philips, Torx, square heads and flat heads.
- For this project, you’ll need a set of bar clamps (2 minimum) to hold the wood together while screwing the pieces together.
Pipe Table Frame Assembly
The first thing I did was assemble all the pipe pieces. This was lots of fun! I do strongly recommend you wear some good leather gloves while doing this; the threads on the pipe sections are pretty sharp and it is very easy to cut yourself. Also, the pipe is pretty oily and your hands will get really filthy and really sticky, really quickly. Notice in the photo that I’ve laid out all the pipe sections and fittings on a piece of cardboard. There are two reasons for this: it’s just better to have all your pieces organized, and it helps protect your work surface (in my case, my kitchen floor). First I made the legs, then I assembled the leg sections (two legs on each end of the table), then I attached the cross brace for a completed frame. Now is the time to clean the pipe of all the stickers and oily residue. I’ve found the best cleaner is B’laster Citrus Based Degreaser, made right up the turnpike from me in Cleveland, OH. It’s industrial strength but also gentle enough to use around the house, for instance for cleaning your barbecue. After cleaning, the next task is making the tabletop.
Pipe Table Tabletop
First, lay out your lumber in the pattern that looks most pleasing to you. You’ll want to do this with the lumber face up, so that way you can play with the grain, knots, and so on. Once you’re satisfied, flip the lumber over face down. Turn your lumber lengthwise (end over end) to preserve your arrangement. If you turn the pieces over on their sides (which is the easy way, but the wrong way) your arrangement will get all screwed up. Got it? Now that the pretty sides of the lumber are face down, the ugly sides that are face up are your working side. This will become the underside of the tabletop so you can go ahead and mark it up as you wish. I planned my screw holes and marked them on each piece of lumber. I used my Kreg Pocket Jig to drill screw holes that enabled me to attach the pieces side by side with no visible screws. This is a fantastic invention – I wish I would have thought of it! When you get yours make sure you get extra screws, too. You’ll definitely need them. (Mea culpa: I got so caught up in making the tabletop that I didn’t take ANY photos! I’ll add some when I make my next woodworking project – promise!)
So now you’ve drilled all the holes and used your drill driver to attach all the pieces together. In the photo, you can see the drill holes where the lumber is adjoined. We’re in the homestretch now! While the tabletop is still face down, attach the frame to the tabletop. Rest it in place and position it so that it is perfectly centered side-to-side and front-to-back. Use your tape measure here and take your time to be precise; you’ll want all measurements to be within 1/8 of an inch or less. Once you’ve got it perfectly placed go ahead and drive one screw into one of the flanges. Measure again then drive one screw into the flange that is diagonal from the first flange. Measure again. Then drive one screw into each of the remaining flanges. Why so much measuring? Because you only get one chance to get it perfect, and even though this is pipe furniture it is still furniture. Because it’s pipe furniture it is a little more forgiving, but what’s wrong with doing the best you can?
Finish driving the screws into the rest of the flanges. We’re almost, almost done! Flip your table upright; you may need someone to help you with this step because it is kinda heavy. Now go get your vacuum with the duster attachment on the hose and thoroughly dust this piece down. At this point, you’re done. An optional step is to add a finish to the tabletop. You can leave it raw, or you can stain it or oil it. Watco Danish Oil is a good choice for protecting the surface, especially if you’re going to put plants on it.