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An Easy Pipe Side Table They'll Never Guess You Made Yourself

July 27, 2016

I could make that! We've all said it, or at least thought it, when shopping for our homes. But often the simplest-seeming furnishings come with a laundry list of supplies and requirements: You can't "whip up" a wooden coffee table without any power tools or a basic understanding of joinery. Not to mention—you'll also need a back yard, great patience, and more than a little time.

Enter this DIY pipe table, which really can be constructed in mere minutes with just a little glue (and without sawdust, power tools, or the requirement that you break a sweat at all). Its look is a bit industrial (because exposed piping has that feel to it) and it would take well to a coat of allover white paint if you were so inclined.

I was inspired to make this table firstly because I'm pretty obsessed with pipe crafts (evidenced by this bike rack, this clothing rack, and this ladder) and second, because I saw it at West Elm and didn't want to spend the money to buy it.

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“Also, the fittings are quite thick- about 1/4" at the ends, so it will take some jiggery to actually get the top sitting on the pipes, and the floor will need some protection.”
— Smaug
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When I did end up making it, I realized it's just as effective as a coffee table when you flip it on its side! (Just call upon a larger cutting board for the top of it in that case.)

Here's how you can make a side-table at home, without breaking a sweat.

What you'll need:

Photo by James Ransom

1. Gather your supplies.

All these pipe pieces should be in the same section of the hardware store—I spent about $50 and about 20 minutes sussing out the right sizes at Home Depot. Do you want a taller side table? Buy longer legs. The shape is pretty customizable.

As for the topper, any hard surface can work: a few side-by-side two by fours from the same hardware store, sanded at the edges; an old cutting board you thrifted or are ready to retire from the kitchen; a new cutting board you buy expressly for this purpose; a melamine tray you need to find a home for.

A fancy cutting board on top will up the price of your DIY side table, but also its curb appeal.

2. Assemble.

The video above is the best way to see how we put together these pieces, in a sort of upright C formation.

Assemble the shape without glue once, to get a feel for the semi-art of screwing all the pieces to get good right angles, then disassemble. For the real thing, you'll want to dab a little epoxy inside each elbow before screwing a length of pipe into it, which is what will make the table hold its shape down the line. Start with one of the short pipes, screw an elbow on either end, then add two more short pipes, and on and on.

Tighten the elbows so the point in right angles. Photo by James Ransom

Save one of the short pieces of pipe for last. Since you can't screw it into the two open elbows on either side at the same time—because they require you screw in two different directions!—you'll need to get creative. First screw the pipe into one of the open elbows as tight as it can go (without getting it so tight you can't undo it), then line the pipe's other end up with the final open elbow. Screw it into this elbow, which means unscrewing it a little from the other side, until it's about halfway screwed into each.

Did you dab epoxy in there before you started? That's what will make this half-screwed-in move work.

Screw the last pipe in here, first in one elbow, then the final. Photo by James Ransom

3. Let dry.

Your epoxy should require about 24 hours to fully harden, during which you'll want all the pipe pieces to be very very straight (and at precise right angles). On a floor that doesn't slope, lay your assembled table flat, so the two long pipes are on the ground and the base and top are pointing up—something like happy baby pose.

Use a level to be sure all the pipes are straight up and down or horizontal. If some of the pipes want to flop over rather than stand straight while drying, use clamps to steady them against an upright table leg or door.

Almost there! (Flip it on its back, from here, to dry.) Photo by James Ransom

4. Top it.

Once you've found a cutting board—or a simple slab of wood they cut for you at Home Depot, or a tray you never use but like the look of, etc.—that's the right size, glue it on top.

Upright, the pipes make the shape of a side table, but if you turn it over, you can also transform this piece into a small coffee table.

Side table! Photo by James Ransom

Choose a surface that's larger than the square made by the small pipes, then lay it on the floor (good side facing down). Dab epoxy onto the top sides of the pipe that it will sit on, then invert them onto the surface. (Doing it this way makes it easier to see where you're gluing!) Wait for it to dry, then flip it over and use it forever.

Cozy, no? Photo by James Ransom

What home accessory have you recently seen that you'd love to know how to DIY? Share your ideas in the comments!

5 Comments

Smaug July 27, 2016
Well, to each his own I guess. If I was going to do something like this, I'd at least use copper. However- you may not be able to find the fittings in black pipe; there have been a lot of problems with quality in black pipe in general, and most plumbers use galvanized fittings nowadays, at least in my area. Also, the fittings are quite thick- about 1/4" at the ends, so it will take some jiggery to actually get the top sitting on the pipes, and the floor will need some protection.
 
Author Comment
Amanda S. July 27, 2016
Copper would be lovely! And galvanized steel, too. I just liked the look of these black ones.
 
suziqcu July 27, 2016
Upon more careful reading I see that I can certainly flip this to make a coffee table!! Excellent!!<br />
 
Author Comment
Amanda S. July 27, 2016
Absolutely! I didn't realize that was going to be an option until I made it and set it long-ways to dry, but I actually like it that way best!
 
suziqcu July 27, 2016
Love this table!! Wondering if I can adapt for a coffee table.....must try with my diy husband!