How to Make an Industrial Outdoor Coffee Table
Sit back and relax on your patio with this DIY furniture project. The steel pipe table features a built-in storage unit, so you can keep beverages nearby for your next summer soiree.
Made with steel pipes and cedar boards, this industrial outdoor coffee table blends no-fuss style with heavy-duty function. A light stain accentuates its wood surface, and a hidden storage unit that can be pulled out provides a place for beverages, magazines, or other outdoor entertaining essentials. Follow our step-by-step instructions for the coffee table below to make custom outdoor furniture with confidence.
What You Need
- (4) 8-foot cedar decking boards (See Cut List below)
- 1" x 2" x 8' cedar board (See Cut List)
- 6 feet of 2-inch oak craft board (See Cut List)
- Circular saw
- Measuring tape
- Wood glue
- Carpenter's square
- Nail gun and pin nails
- Allen wrench
- (16) 90-degree connectors (we used SteelTek)
- (8) T connectors
- (4) 24-inch pipe
- (2) 42-1/2-inch pipe
- (4) 14-1/4-inch pipe
- (4) 13-1/2-inch pipe
- (4) 12-inchpipe
- (2) 2-inch pipe
- 1/8 or 1/16 inch bit
- Bonding primer
- Spray paint
- (16) 2-inch stainless-steel screws
- (5) 18-inch cedar decking board
- (2) 20-inch cedar decking board
- (8) 27-1/2-inch cedar decking board
- (4) 9-3/4-inch cedar 1x2
- (4) 9-3/4-inch oak craft board
- (4) 8 inch-oak craft board
Make the Storage Unit
Step 1: Cut Wood and Build Box
Cut five 18-inch pieces and two 20-inch pieces from the cedar decking boards. Sand the boards until edges, sides, and faces are all smooth. Glue and clamp two 18-inch boards between two 20-inch boards to create a box. Use a carpenters square to ensure the corners are set at a 90-degree angle. Once dry, tack each of the corners with a nail gun.
Step 2: Install Bottom
Evenly space the remaining three 18-inch boards inside the bottom of the box to create the base of the tray. Secure with wood glue and clamps, then nail into place. For this step, you may want to work on sawhorses or elevate the box using scrap wood so you can reach the bottom of each side of the box.
Make the Table Surface
Step 1: Cut and Sand Wood
Cut the remaining cedar boards into eight 27-1/2-inch pieces. Then cut the 1x2 cedar board into four 9-3/4-inch pieces. Cut the oak craft boards into four 9-3/4-inch pieces and four 8-inch pieces. Sand all pieces smooth.
Step 2: Build Fixed Surface Sections
The two end pairs of boards that make up the top of the coffee table will be fixed to the base. The two middle sections will be loose so they can be removed to reveal the storage box below.
For the two end sections, lay two 27-1/2-inch boards side by side with 1/16 inch between them. Inset one of the 8-inch oak craft boards 1-7/8 inch from the edge that will be on the outside edge of the table. Glue and nail the craft board perpendicular to the cedar boards, 1/16 inch from the ends. Repeat with another 8-inch oak craft board on the opposite end of the cedar boards.
Once you have completed your first set, repeat the process on a second pair of cedar boards. Once finished, you should have two pairs of cedar boards joined with 8-inch craft boards that will be mounted and fixed to the table base. The oak craft boards will act as spacers to make up for the difference in height that is created by the connectors between the sections of pipe.
Step 4: Build Removable Surface Sections
Align two more 27-1/2-inch cedar boards with a 1/16 inch space between them. Glue and nail a 9-3/4-inch oak craft board 1/16 inch from the end of the pair of cedar boards, and 3/4 inch in from the long edge that will fit next to the T joint on the top of the coffee table frame. Repeat this process on the opposite side of the boards. Then repeat on a second pair of 27-1/2-inch cedar boards, so you have two sets of boards, each combined with two 9-3/4-inch craft boards.
Step 5: Finish Center Section
On the center sections, the ones you created in Step 4, glue and nail a 9-3/4x2-inch cedar board perpendicular to the long boards and at a 90-degree angle to the inside edge of the oak craft board. This piece will keep the loose top sections from sliding around. Repeat on the remaining ends of the top boards.
Step 6: Paint or Stain
You should now have all parts for your table surface assembled. This includes two sets of boards combined with two 8-inch oak craft boards and two sets of boards combined with both two 9-3/4-inch craft boards and two 9-3/4-inch cedar boards.
If you want to paint or stain the cedar boards, now is a good time. We recommend an exterior-grade, semi-transparent cedar deck stain or a clear coat for a natural look. Alternatively, you can paint your surface in your desired shade with an exterior-grade paint. Let dry according to manufacturer's instructions.
Make the Pipe Frame
Step 1: Place T Connectors
Slide two T connectors onto each of the 42-1/2-inch pipes. Secure the Ts at 10 inches on center from each end of each pipe. Make sure the opening of the Ts face the same direction.
Editor's Tip: As you build the base, make sure all of the screws on your connectors are facing down or to the inside to keep things consistent and neat. Use an allen wrench to tighten the connectors.
Step 2: Connect Long Pipes
Secure each end of the two 24-inch pipes into the open ends of the T connectors. This will connect the two 42-1/2-inch pipes to create a ladder shape that will become the supporting structure of the table surface. Next, attach a 90-degree connector at the open end of each 42-1/2-inch pipe.
Step 3: Form Legs
Attach a 14-1/2-inch pipe to each 90-degree connector. These will form the four legs of the table. Attach a 90-degree connector at the bottom of each 14-1/2-inch leg and turn them inward. At this point, we flipped our entire frame right-side up to make it easier to assemble.
Step 4: Add Connectors to Legs
Attach a 13-1/2-inch pipe onto the open end of each 90-degree connector at the ends of the legs. Next, attach a 90-degree connector onto the end of each of the 13-1/2-inch pieces. Secure them flat against your surface and turn inward toward the center of the frame.
Step 5: Finish Pipe Frame
Slide a T connector onto two 24-inch pipes and secure them in the center of each. Attach each end of the 24-inch pipes to the 90-degree connectors on the 13-1/2-inch pieces. The T connectors on the 24-inch pieces should be facing up. After this step you will have a connected pipe table base. The only pipe openings will be the upward-facing T connectors on the 24-inch base pieces.
Create the Tray Support
Step 1: Form a Square
Center two T connectors on two 12-inch pipes. Then create a square using the four 12-inch pipes and the four remaining 90-degree connectors. Make sure the two 12-inch pipes with the T connectors are on opposite ends of the square and the T connectors are facing upward. Slide a 2-inch piece of pipe into each of the T connectors on the square and secure with an allen wrench.
Step 2: Attach to Frame
Flip the square assembly so the 2-inch pipes are facing downward, and line them up with the open Ts on the base. Slide together and secure them. Square up the base and tighten all connectors with an allen wrench.
Step 3: Drill Pilot Holes
Turn the entire base upside down. Using a 1/8-inch or 3/16-inch bit, drill four holes through each outside section of pipe on the top of the assembly. These holes should line up with the top sections that will be fixed on the outside ends of the table.
Editor's Tip: Now is a good time to paint your pipe base if you wish. Use a bonding primer and spray paint, and let dry according to manufacturer's instructions. You should also paint the heads of the 2-inch stainless-steel screws.
Step 4: Attach Surface
Once your paint is dry, fit the two sections of cedar tabletop with the 8-inch oak craft boards into each end of the pipe base. Screw them into the underside of the pipe frame using your pilot holes as a guide. Once secure, flip the table over, place the wood box on the pipe tray support, and set the remaining sections of tabletop in the center.