DIY Scavenged Butcher Block Tabletop on Cast Iron Pipe Base

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.

Pipe and flanges

Flange, 8″, Tee, etc…

Left Side Legs, Butcher Block Table

Right legs

3/4 View Color, Salvaged Butcher Block Table

26 responses to “DIY Scavenged Butcher Block Tabletop on Cast Iron Pipe Base”

  1. Shana says:

    So beautiful!

  2. Matt says:

    How tightly did you screw the pipes together? We were inspired by your table and are trying something similar, but we are having a hard time getting 90-degree angles when we screw everything together. It seems like it should be really simple but for some reason is not. thanks!

    • Mark Beattie says:

      Pretty tight, by hand, not using any sort of pipe wrenches. We ended up exchanging a couple of pieces of pipe because it seemed they were shorter than the others. Also, our scavenged piece of butcher block is a not perfectly even, it has quite a concave center channel from being worn on either side and there are some cracks between the pieces of wood (& a bit warped), but hey, it was free.

      The biggest thing with the pipes that we found was making sure they are all threaded hand tight and that it presents a level surface, though a little bit of shimming underneath the tabletop will address any issues you might have within a few millimeters.

  3. Liz says:

    This is great!

    Love the vintage industrial feel you could get by using some beat up wood for a top.

    I just picked up an old letterpress and think a modified version of this (smaller) would be great to hold it.

  4. k says:

    I’m thinking of building the same one as a desk and am wondering if your legs touch the middle bar when sit at it. Thanks!

  5. Stef says:

    thanks for the instructions!

  6. Patrick says:

    That kind of butcher block can be salvaged from an old upright piano. The portion that supports the keys looks just like that table top once it is removed and cleaned up. The piece I pulled from my old piano is around 56″x22″x2.5″

  7. Michelle says:

    Are those custom cut pieces of piping? How high is your table? I’d like to do the same for my table top.

  8. […] several sketches and design ideas, I finally settled on a 3′x5′ table using this tutorial to construct a 2′x4′ black pipe base.  I would attach 2 2″x4″x5′ […]

  9. Rachelle says:

    Love this! I’m jealous you found the butcher block on Craigslist- great find! To answer your question my husband has a truck and usually scout for pallets in that. Otherwise one will fit in the back of my Murano. Can’t wait to see what else you create!

  10. […] DIY Scavenged Butcher Block Tabletop on Cast Iron Pipe Base | marybicycles […]

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  12. paul says:

    have to pipe started to rust yet?

    • Mark Beattie says:

      No rust, yet. But we’ll sand, prime and then paint these pipes before we move/relocate the table, probably best practice with any cast iron. -Mark

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  14. Arnold says:

    Fantastic post! I’m thinking of something similar, except I’d like to avoid building the cross-bar that connects the legs across the middle (I’d like to be able to slide some stools all the way underneath the table, and also my table is only 18″ deep).

    How stable do you think it would be to construct the following design with your materials/processes, with just 3 connecting bars going across the sides and back?

    http://www.coopersequipment.com/cutting-tables.html

    Thanks!

  15. Vicki says:

    I would also,like to build one of these and have the seats slide under the top,when not in use…can you make a frame for say 40 x 22 or 30 table top just 30’inches tall and NOT have the center pipe—-just use 4 legs with extra support pipes an inch or so under table top
    So legs for diners will clear frame/top and you can slide the seats–either stools or chairs– completely underneath when not in use?

    • Mark Beattie says:

      Not having the center cross support will probably weaken the overall frame at least not without building some sort of frame on the top that the legs would connect to in the corners just underneath the tabletop, many smaller side tables are built like this, and older wooded tables have something similar where a diagonal bolt comes in to pull the leg tight into the corner, but there is a valence, or curtain, surrounding the bottom of the tabletop in these cases. I hope this makes sense.

  16. David says:

    I cannot find any 8″ pipes or thin flanges. :(

    • Mark Beattie says:

      I know that pipes can be custom cut to whatever length and threaded. As far as very thin flanges, I don’t know, McMaster-Carr (mcmaster.com) might be a place to start your search. Cheers.

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