We found a used 70″ x 30″ butcher block tabletop for free on Craigslist and figured that the industrial black cast iron pipe aesthetic might just work for a table base.
We traveled to our local (giant) hardware store and bought:
1 x 48″ long 3/4″ black pipe
4 x 18″ long 3/4″ black pipe
8 x 8″ long 3/4″ black pipe
6 x 3/4″ black tees
8 x 3/4″ black flanges (feet)
We found it’s easiest to assemble the lower half of the “H” sections, screw in the 48″ long cross piece, and then finish of the top part of the “H” supports. You don’t have to use flanges if you don’t like the aesthetic, though as far as anchoring into wood is concerned the flanges underneath the tabletop do offer convenient support and holes for drilling. With this sort of pipe (black drain, 3/4″ cast iron) there are many other fittings (and shapes) that could be created out of 90 degree angle bends, not to mention the variability in pipe width.
As far as refinishing the butcher block goes, it needs to be sanded down (starting with a coarse 50 grit then going finer upward of 200 grit) and then coated with food grade (USP) mineral oil and then sealed with beeswax. Pure Tung oil is another option though it tends to be more expensive. Danny Lipford has a page that gives some great tips on butcher block maintenance.
All told this project should be less than $100 (presuming you salvage the wood) which is significantly less than a store bought version and then there’s the satisfaction of actually building something.
More photos available on Flickr: “Butcher Block Table and Cast Iron Base” photo set.