If you make it with old wood, I will most certainly drool on it.  Also, if you present me with an old battered dining chair, I’ll most certainly adopt it, but that’s another story.

I was driving down a side street in the pouring rain when I insisted that we pull over so I could rescue a warped and unloved table from a pile of junk.  This thing was gnarly, made of composite and just kind of weird – but it was poking out of the pile of junk like a little ratty beacon and I knew it could become something magical.  I just wasn’t sure what that was.


I dried it off, eyed it up and decided it would get shoved behind my couch as a sofa table until I could come up with a better plan for it.  The warped top made it impossible to set drinks on, and the veneer kept peeling off and sticking to my precious little kitten.  It became clear it would need to find it’s purpose sooner than later.  And that, is when I met the most perfectly old and warped pallet I’d ever seen.

The wood was weathered and full of stories, much like the table and suddenly – it all came together.  My ugly sofa table would become a magnificent entry way table, with the help of some old and weathered pallet wood.

All in all it cost about $20 to do, took a few hours on a Saturday afternoon and turned out to be one of my very favorite furniture pieces, ever. So, are you ready to learn how to turn a rescued table into a beautiful barn wood table masterpiece?  Let’s get started!

DIY Barn Wood Table Tutorial

Making your barn wood table is going to be a bit of a choose your own adventure.  It will depend on the table you choose, how it was originally put together, and the condition it was in when you found it.  I’ve tried to outline the basic steps you’re going to need to go through, but you might have to get a bit creative during some of the steps, but you’ve got this.  Let’s make something pretty….

01 | Find an Old Table

Finding the table of your dreams is pretty easy on a bulk garbage day.  People throw them out at a crazy rate (which I don’t understand because tables are freaking versatile!)  You’re going to want something that you can take apart, so look for screws under the top or hardware that you can dismantle. You can pick any type of table you please.  Old Ikea side tables work well, sofa tables, and especially the kind of tables that have the single pedestal leg (those are the easiest) so get your sweat pants on and go for a little dumpster dive around your neighborhood.  If you don’t have bulk days, other options include: garage sales, salvage stores, and dumpsters behind apartment buildings.  You might even have a gnarly table in your house to dress up.  Do some trolling.

02 | Prep Your Old Table

The first thing you’re going to want to do is take it apart. As long as it had screws to begin with it should be a pretty easy disassemble.

Once it’s in pieces, it’ll be easier to check out the actual condition and assess what it’s made of. Chances are it’s going to be made of wood composite and not proper wood.  That means there’s a good chance it’s going to be covered with a veneer, that may or may not be chipped, cracked or peeling.  Veneer is a funny beast for a few reasons.  Firstly, it’s a plastic type material, so painting over it can be a bugger if you don’t use the proper primer.  Secondly, it’s often going to be loose in places – that’s when things get tricky (but not impossible).

Start by taking a good look at your table.

If it’s totally wood, you’re golden.  Give it a quick sand to get off varnish or other things on the surface and patch any holes you see (that aren’t for putting it back together).  For patching either wood or composite you can use wood filler, but if you’re in a pinch, drywall compound works as well.

If it’s composite, you have a little more work ahead of you.  If the veneer is pulling away, start by gluing it down.  You can use wood glue, but my preference for (almost everything) is a product called “No More Nails” you can get it in a caulking tube and go to town with your little caulking gun putting the veneer back into place.  It dries quickly, and better than that, it holds insanely well.  With either product, you’ll want to use clamps or some heavy objects on anything you’ve glued for about a half hour (or pre the manufacturers specs) to make sure everything is stuck down properly.

The next step is patching any chips or cracks and filling any holes that aren’t for reassembly.  You can use either wood filler, or you can also use drywall compound, both work just fine.

Give it a light sand to even everything out, and get some of the shine off of the veneer and then you’re ready to move on.

03 | Give it a Nice Paint!

Now the fun part! It’s going to start looking a lot less crappy with this step.  By the time you’re done with paint you’ll be super excited to get the barnwood on and get the table somewhere that people can see it!

The first thing here is going to be: Primer.  I can’t stress this enough, buy Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer.  It’s not cheap, but it will literally prime anything and you’ll have a gallon for a long, long time (I’ve gotten about 15 projects out of it and still have half a can). The stuff just lasts forever.  Follow the instructions on the can, however if you have a wood table, you can get away with paint in a couple of hours after you’ve primed and if you’re doing veneer, I find one or two coats and about 24 hours is more than enough to get it to stick.

Once you’ve primed, you can start the rest of the table while you wait for it to cure.  Within about an hour you can touch it and work with it, so you don’t have to leave your lovely table in bits while you wait. Choose your paint color while you’re waiting for it to become workable, and once it’s dry to touch, you can start to reassemble.

In my case, the table used the top to hold the legs together, so I had to get a bit crafty.  It was virtually impossible to get it to stand up with just the shelf in the center, so it needed a couple of support bars at the top to make sure the table was secure.  If you find a table like this, just measure the space between, cut a couple pieces of old wood to fit and just screw them in to support it.

 04 | Create the Top

I’ve seen this done a few ways, but I wanted to make sure I could move the boards around later if I didn’t like the top in the end, so I went the route of less commitment (and less glue).  So to do it this way, disassembled the pallet with a reciprocating saw (to keep the old nail heads in the wood) and line up the boards across the top of the table. When you have an assortment that looks cute and also covers the top, you can begin marking the boards where they need to be cut.

Once you have your boards cut and ready, make sure they fit on the top again, and position them where you want them to be. You’re going to grab some screw with flat heads and a drill bit to make the holes. Drill through the barnwood and into the table through the center of each board.  The end result will look like this:

This is the part where I was talking about it being a bit of a choose your own adventure though.  Depending on the table you have, you might have to attach it in a different way or in a different place, but the general principals apply.  If need be, you can glue the boards together, or you can attach them using a couple of thing pieces of wood on the back.

05 | Finish Painting

Once you have your table top on, and your table back together, it’s time to put on your final coats of paint.  Tape off the table top (or remove the boards completely again until you’re done painting) and get that pretty color on.  I wanted it to be white to have a bit of a farmhouse vibe, but you can go nuts with whatever paint color makes you smile.  If there are still a few holes here and there, you can touch them up with some wall compound and then finish your coats of paint.  Latex is fine.

Once it’s dry, you’re done!  High-five yourself and find your new table a home.

Happy Creating/Sawing/Painting/Drilling!






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