Bike frame coffee table
August 1, 2006
Since moving from Windsor to Guelph, I needed to buy furniture for my new home. Wanting to dress my apartment with unique, one-of-a-kind decoration, I set off to build a coffee table that uses a bicycle frame.
I used SketchUp to design the table. It's a remarkbly easy program. I highly recommend it for projects like this.
The initial design was simple, but the simplicity restricted the width of the table.
Figure 1 Initial design
I tried to improve the stability of the table by reducing the distance between the legs and the critical joints, but the design was too complicated.
Figure 2 Another attempt to design, with more complicated but more stable joints
The final design was chosen because it was satisfactorily stable and relatively easy to build.
Figure 3 Final design
Preparing the bike frame
First, I gathered the tools. This included a metal brush to scrap paint away, and an earmuff to keep myself comfortable.
Mike Beauchamp gave me a bike frame after finding out that he couldn't adjust the seat post; and ruining it while trying to do so. It was an excellent bike with decent parts. He was glad that it got a second chance to live as a coffee table.
The original bike frame was dirty, oily and rusty. After weeks of scrapping, I got it down to bare metal, leaving a nice brushed metal effect.
I had to be careful around the badge to avoid scratching it. After wiping away paint and metal dust using a damp cloth, I sprayed 5 thin layers of clear paint to avoid rust build up.
The frame's surface lost its edgy look after the clear paint cured, but it's better than patches of rust.
To attach the legs to the frame, I first suspended the frame on a stack of boxes, then carefully aligned the legs together on the floor.
I applied varnish on some parts to highlight the wooden texture.
I masked the rest of the table to paint the legs.
A layer of primer goes on first.
First layer of green paint.
Table frame unmasked.
Finally, a piece of tempered glass on top. And it's done!
I found that the joint on the front of the bike frame to be too weak. The coffee table shook all the time. If I had the chance to do it again, I'd use metal pipes instead. I could actually create the whole thing using galvanized steel pipes.
The span of the glass was also too long. A support in the middle would be better.
Despite all the shortcomings, I did have a coffee table that screams cycling - and that's all that really matters.
Update: I addressed some of these concerns in a follow-up article.