Industrial furniture is the basis from which I am built. I love the simple yet rugged look of metal and wood punched together into one statement piece of furniture. But I’m a wood guy by trade (and by heart), and I know not everyone has access to a welder on a whim. That’s why I tried out brazing metal as an alternative to welding.
With the help of great Bernzomatic products, I was able to build this rugged, industrial aluminum side table without a welder, a metal shop, or anything more than you’ll find in your everyday wood shop.
First, note that you won’t need any tool you won’t find in your traditional woodworking shop -- because that’s kind of the point here. Measure out your Aluminum tubing and cut into 11 different edges to create the base of your side table. Since Aluminum is a lightweight metal, you can make these cuts with a chop saw, miter saw, or your circular saw and it’ll be smooth as butter with no special blade.
Once your metal is cut, you want to chamfer the edges using a wood file. This creates a space for the brazing to go, fill in, and seal the pieces together. Getting the right depth for this is important, so you may want to practice on some smaller, spare pieces first. From there, be sure to clean your metal using a brush to make sure it is ready for brazing and looks top-notch.
Next, clamp your desired pieces together using a woodworking clamp. Since we’ll be using a high-temperature flame in just a minute, make sure there are no plastic pieces on your clamp. As I discovered, you don’t want to clamp too tight because the brazing metal still needs to penetrate along the seams of the metal. Keep your clamp firm and sturdy, but don’t squeeze the life out of it.
Time to get brazing. You want to start by preheating your metal using the torch of your choice. This process is a careful balance of melting points between the aluminum and the metal filler. Aluminum melts at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, while the filler melts at 800 degrees -- meaning you want to heat the aluminum to the point where the filler will melt, but not the legs of your table themselves.
Preheat your metal with the torch, removing the flame and dragging the filler along the seam of the two pieces. Each connection will take about 3-5 minutes to cool before you move it. If you find that your braze isn’t holding after this time frame, try again, making sure your clamp is not too tight and you are waiting long enough for your braze to harden.
Once assembled and cooled, this thing should be STRONG. Although Aluminum is lightweight, it’s super sturdy (and cost-effective) -- sturdy enough to hold all 277.4 pounds of yours truly. Considering we will, for all intents and purposes, likely never have more than 277.4 pounds on our side table, I deem this sufficient.
Once assembled, it’s time to paint this guy. Start by buffing the seams where you brazed, creating a smooth, finished look. Begin painting with Universal binding or self-etching spray paint, topping it off with black spray paint (or whichever color you choose). Allow the paint to dry overnight, having sweet dreams of your nearly-finished table.
Finish your table off by adding the table top. You’ll want to drill rough holes on the top piece of metal, followed by attaching your wooden table top with some screws. Finally, add some felt pads to the bottom legs so you don’t scratch your lady’s hardwood floors.
Boom. Weld-free industrial table.
Once built, this table is a clean staple to any living room or bedroom decor. Best of all, it’s a beyond-simple build that doesn’t require welding, making it a great project to take on this weekend. Check out my full process, start to finish, in the video below:
Want to try this build out for yourself? Download the digital plan now for step-by-step instructions, measurements, and a detailed look at how to punch this project in the face.