Base the size of the garbage can on the table's intended surroundings.

How to Make a Skirted Table With a Garbage Can Base

by Jessica Westover

A round table made from a garbage can makes a suitable project for those do-it-yourself decorators with large ideas, a limited budget, minimal space or lack of time. This cloth-draped accent piece adds decoration and functionality to a living space by simultaneously acting as a hidden storage compartment and a placeholder for tabletop lighting, reading materials, knick-knacks and picture frames. The basic materials assemble so easily that in the space of an hour your living room or family room will sport a new furniture piece that looks far more expensive than it really is.

Remove the lid from a plastic or metal garbage can. Dip a rag in soapy water and wash the can, inside and out, if it was previously used to hold trash. Rinse the can with clean water. Dry the can with a towel.

Set the can upright on a flat surface. Stretch a tape measure across the center of the can's opening to measure its diameter in inches. Add 6 inches to allow the tabletop to overlap the can by 3 inches on each side; for example, if the can's diameter is 24 inches, the minimum diameter needed for the tabletop is 30 inches.

Select a plywood round with a diameter equal to or greater than your calculated measurement. Smooth all edges of the plywood with sandpaper. Clean off sanding dust with a clean rag.

Place the garbage can in the spot where you wish the table to sit. Position the can at least three inches away from nearby objects to allow for the overlap of the tabletop.

Place the plywood round on top of the garbage can. Center the wood so that it overlaps the can evenly on all sides.

Measure the distance from the floor to the top surface of the plywood round in inches with the tape measure. Round the measurement to the nearest inch and multiply by 2. Add the diameter of the plywood round to determine what size cloth will completely cover the table; for example, if the length from floor to tabletop equals 36 inches, then the table requires a cloth with a diameter of 102 inches to cover the table completely.

Select a round tablecloth equal to your calculated measurement. Drape the tablecloth over the plywood round, letting its sides drop down to the floor. Center the tablecloth on the table to ensure it hangs evenly and hides all sides of the garbage can.

Place a glass circle with a diameter equal to the plywood round on top of the table. Line up the edges of the glass with the edges of the cloth-covered wood.

Items you will need

  • Cleaning supplies
  • Tape measure
  • Plywood round
  • Sandpaper
  • Rag
  • Round tablecloth
  • Round glass top


  • Use the garbage can as a storage bin, placing items such as linens, magazines, books, boots or off-season clothes inside the can before setting the tabletop in place.
  • Drape a second tablecloth over the first to increase the table's ornamentation. Consider layering a second tablecloth made from sheer material, with a square shape or a shorter length than the first.


  • Wear gloves and safety glasses when sanding the wood, and sand the tabletop in a well-ventilated area or outdoors.


Photo Credits

  • Hemera Technologies/ Images