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Back Porch Tables

back porch table wine

Aaaaahhhhh! Can we go back to the weekend?

It’s Colombus Day, and while that might be a holiday where you are, it’s not really here on the West Coast. The kids have school, most people are working, it’s just a regular Monday. But if it were a holiday, I’d be here on my back porch, sipping wine with a new book.

I have a project today that might be a little late in the season, but for us in Northern California, it’s the perfect time of year to head back outside. The 100 degree days are over (PLEASE?!), and the evenings are just lovely. We’re back to enjoying dinners on the porch and Saturday afternoon naps on the daybed.

vintage trash cans

My project today started here. Rough looking vintage trash cans. The kind you had in your school growing up. I got these beauties for FREE at a local surplus store. (They’re super similar to these at Schoolhouse Electric. See, Husband? What a deal! I can’t imagine why anyone would want to give these away! Rust? Pfffft.) There were at least 30 of them up for grabs. I nabbed 6 with no real plan, but I brought them home and immediately spray painted them white.

Now, I know I have some crazy ideas. Husband usually just goes along with them and often helps out, especially with the painting. I’m waiting for the day when he puts his foot down and declares, “No! You may not bring that (insert random free item I drag off the curb and load into my car) into our house.” So far, he humors me (see “free” shutter). For this, I am very grateful.

instagram trashcan

I posted this photo to Instagram over the weekend, seeing if anyone had any guesses as to what I was working on. Surprise – no one guessed A TABLE! (My brother guessed an oil pan.)round table tops

I picked up these two pre-cut wood rounds at Home Depot and this 8′ rectangular wooden dowel (1/2′ x 3/4″) at our local hardware shop. My plan was to cut the dowel into smaller pieces to attach to the bottom of the wood rounds. The dowels would slide into the bottom lip of the trash cans and keep the tabletops from moving around.


This required finding the center of the circle. My high school geometry has escaped me (formulas have been replaced with Dan Zanes lyrics), so I googled to get the true method, involving chords and perpendicular lines (where’s a compass when you need one?). Husband (the engineer!) preferred to eyeball it. Between the two of  us, we had a reasonable point we both liked.


After measuring the diameter of the bottom of the trash can, I cut the dowel into one long piece of wood the length of the diameter (10″) and two smaller pieces of wood equal to 1/2 the diameter minus the width of the dowel (4.5″). Confused?

table top sketch


Here’s a drawing to explain. The outer circle is the wood round, the inner circle is the measurement of the inside of the trashcan lip. The wooden dowel crossbar will slide into the lip and hold the tabletop securely in place.

Confession: it wasn’t completely secure the first time, even though my measurements were VERY accurate. It’s pretty hard to saw exactly (we have VERY basic tools), and I wanted the crossbars to fit tightly in the bottom of the trashcans so they wouldn’t move at all. Husband helped me position the crossbars to make it just right.


After screwing the dowels into place on both wood rounds, we spray painted them the same color as the newly painted trashcans.

spray can gun

I got to use my super cool spray can gun attachment. You just slide it onto the can and squeeze the trigger. Game changer.


And miraculously, the tabletops fit perfectly. You can even pick the tables up by the wood rounds, they are so secure. (Thanks, Husband!)


I originally looked at garden stools to serve the table purposes, but I had a hard time justifying the price, especially when we have kids under 8. I think I would cry if one of those lovely porcelain beauties were shattered on our brick.


So for now, vintage trashcans with a wooden tops works just fine.

back porch

After we were finished, I asked Husband, “Do you really dislike them?”

“Well, I don’t like them, but I don’t dislike them, either.”

That’s a start.



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