How I Create Art - The Build ProcessMetal Working

How to Build a Bar Height Table with Steel Patinated Base

How to Build a Bar Height Table with Steel Patinated Base

The base of this table is made of steel, and I used a blend of chemicals to give it a unique patina. The result is a beautiful marbled, aged copper finish.  The copper colors in the steel base accent, the copper-colored lines in the marble countertops, and the greens from the patination process complement the green velvet chairs.
I used Wenge wood for the tabletop because it complements the cabinets’ dark espresso stain. Then, I finished it with a clear coat highlighting the wood’s natural deep espresso brown coloration.
The bar-height table stands at a comfortable bar height of 42” tall. Its spacious top measures 40” wide by 86” long and 4” thick.  The top is not solid wenge; it is a torsion box that is veneered with shop-sawn wenge.  The base is weighted with concrete bucks placed inside to prevent the slim base from tipping over.
Project Location: Colorado Springs
Custom Furniture for sale in Colorado Springs, CO - Design and fabrication

The Build Process

acid clean metal

The table base was so large that I decided to clean the parts before welding them up.  I did have to go back and reclean the weld splatter and grime from handling them after assembly.  However, it was easier to reclean it than it would have been to get all the mill scale and oils off after it was assembled.  The unassembled parts were much easier to handle.

I used muriatic acid to clean all the parts.  Muriatic acid is available in different strengths; some are marked as low-order or environmentally friendly.  I have found that those are not strong enough to do what I need, and I end up using more of the product to get the job done.  As a result, my use case probably negated any benefit from buying the low-odor/friendly versions.  It is important to know your use case and select the appropriate version for that case.  I have found that being in the 30% range will get the job in a reasonable amount of time and not waste any product.

Steel frame sketch

After I cleaned all the sheet metal, I set it aside to dry while I welded up a steel frame. The tabletop that is going on this will be heavy, so I wanted to be sure it was strong enough to hold the weight. So, I used 1/8″ x 1″ angle iron to create a strong steel frame and then cladded it with sheet metal.


Cutting notch in steel

Acquiring quality tools takes time, and some tool purchases are tool bombs.  It would have been great to just miter the corners of the steel, but my saw is really finicky to get it dialed in to cut an accurate angle.  So I decided to cut a notch in the steel and then use my fixture table to ensure everything is welded up square.

Notched metal joint

Sorry, the picture is a little blurry, but this is what the notched joint looked like before welding it up.  I used this joint on all the connections for the frame.

Bottom supports

The table is tall, and the base is narrow, so to prevent it from tipping over, I welded in a base plate to set buckets full of concrete on to add some weight. I can tell you that the buckets of the concert did the trick. You can party on top of this table and not have an issue.

Tack weld sheet metal on frame

Once I got the frame welded up, I tack-welded the sheet metal to it.  This made the whole base rigid, at this point the project was coming together.

Welding the seam

I had to weld the seam shut at each corner of the base so that when ground and buffed, it looked like one piece of steel.

Metal Patination - Copper Plating

Finally, the fun part: I used various chemicals and application techniques to add copper plating to the steel and then aged it to create a nice patina ranging from bright copper to browns and various shades of green. People keep asking me what chemicals I use to copper plate the steel. It doesn’t matter; Google will tell you which ones will copper plate steel, and there are several different ways to do it, and they all work. However, to get cool results, it is the application process that matters, and that comes with practice.

Bar Height Table with Steel Patinated Base

Here is the finished piece!

I’m the owner of Benham Design Concepts, a mixed media art studio where I design and build custom furniture and other works of art using wood, glass, stone, and various metals.
In this blog, I talk about the art I create, my journey, and the things I learn along the way.