Given the meteoric rise in copper prices, it pays to be confident when making a copper table from scratch. You’ll cut a plywood base and wrap it with copper sheeting in the same manner as covering a picnic table with a tight-fitting cloth, only your topper requires a mallet to shape the metal over the wood rather than clips to keep the wind from blowing the cloth away. Simplify your efforts by buying prefabricated table legs or make a copper pipe framework if you’re handy with soldering tools.
Things You'll Need
- 3/4-inch birch plywood
- 23 gauge copper sheeting
- Metal shears
- Copper alloy piping or table legs
- Soldering equipment
- Sheet metal screws
- Spray lacquer
- Polishing cloths
Cut a circle, square or rectangle from a section of ¾-inch birch plywood that’s sized to match your intended tabletop dimension. Birch plywood is more expensive than cheaper options, such as fir, but it is less likely to warp. Sand, seal and paint the plywood on both sides so the underside of your copper-wrapped table is nicely finished off.
Use metal sheers to cut a section of 23-gauge copper sheeting to size, adding at least 2-inches of overhang that allows you to wrap and secure the copper sheeting beneath the plywood top. Make the overhang longer if you prefer to have a deeper copper wrap on the underside of the table.
Cut eight sections of thick copper tubing to create a framework on which to mount the tabletop if you’re not using prefabricated legs. Cut four sections to shape a square base that will support the top, and four to make the copper table’s legs. Cut four more sections if you plan to add an additional square brace. Use a band saw, hacksaw, tube cutter or stationary saw to cut the pipe.
Sand the ends of the copper pipe sections to remove burrs and ragged cutting edges. Use a light touch as even copper pipe made with alloys can attract scratches and blemishes. Use a cloth to remove oil and soil so soldering flux goes on smoothly.
Solder together a square of four copper pipe sections to form the table base. Connect four lengths of pipe to the corners to attach the legs. Solder an additional four sections of pipe to the legs to form a mid-base brace for additional support. Up end the unit so the legs face the ceiling so you can sand and smooth them out.
Cover the tabletop with copper. Place a blanket on the floor to protect the metal while you work. Position the finished plywood topper in the middle of the copper sheeting. Assume a comfortable position -- you can sit on the plywood if you like -- since wrapping the plywood top with copper sheeting can get tedious.
Apply an adhesive to the plywood periphery to add a bonding medium between the copper and the plywood. Fold over the copper sheeting, moving around the tabletop methodically and using a mallet to bend the sheeting in place on the underside. Allow the adhesive to dry. Alternately, attach the sheeting with a drill and decorative screws -- or use both adhesive and screws.
Add a coat of lacquer to the copper tabletop if you don’t want it to develop a patina as a result of the oxidation process that affects this metal. Join the tabletop to the base using brackets and screws. Wax the tabletop and buff it to a shine as a finishing touch.
Tips & Warnings
- Use cleaning and polishing formulations made specifically for copper to keep your table looking pristine.
- Use only copper alloy pipe to make your base; pure copper can be too fragile to support a tabletop.
- Hot plates and pots can damage a copper tabletop, even if it’s been sealed, so rely on trivets to protect it.
- Sustained, direct sunlight can also fade copper over time.
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