Updated: Jul 24
It’s getting to be that time of the year when we start making our way outdoors to cook and eat alfresco. I created a special place in my backyard for guests to do just that, if not for just for me and my family! The guests provide whatever they want to grill for an evening meal along with their favorite beverage. I provide the dishes, a salad, the sides, and do the cleanup. They cook (and eat) at tabletop. In the warmer months, I offer breakfast pizzas grilled outdoors.
Each summer I pick a big project to tackle at my home. Last summer it was to build this grill top table (out of a large utility spool) inspired by pictures seen on social media.
Enter my handyman, Randy, who I would be lost without what with me living in this 100 plus home (circa 1909) that always needs a tweak or two. Randy, one of those local American heroes who makes his livelihood as a cattle farmer, helps me and others out with his side handyman gig.
I asked the local cable fiber guy if he had any extra spools. Boy did he and immediately said he’d deliver it the next morning. Good thing because the spool weighs over 250lbs!
After talking it over with Randy and doing a little shopping, he got right to it. He first put four 5-inch caster wheels, each with a weight limit of 75lbs, so I could move it.
Next, I found a fourteen-inch charcoal grill which was to be placed in the middle of the table. He cut the hole that ended up being just a bit larger in circumference than the circular one found in spools. We left the bottom on the stool, covering the bottom with metal sheet siding Randy provided from leftover from his farm. He also insisted on lining the inside interior of the spool walls as well. I sprayed a flame retardant over the wooden interior part before putting the metal sheet siding in. The idea is that the grills' charcoal ashes
would drop inside the spool so we thought better fire safe than sorry. The spool sits on concrete. I use the water hose to distinguish after grilling. And that was it! Now the fun part for me was decorating it.
I stained the entire spool and found the perfect stools to fit snugly in it and conveniently can be pulled out when needed. I decided to put glued pennies on the tabletop; forty-seven dollars’ worth of pennies. I used clear gorilla glue to adhere them. It took a weekend (and in full confession a couple of bottles of wine to drink which is optional) to get through the chore. I then put epoxy on top of it. Epoxy needs 72 hours to set in dry conditions. On the final night during the end of the 72 hour period, as I innocently slept, came the Kansas humidity. It seeped under the layer of epoxy on the pennies causing a cloudy white covered coating on all my pretty shiny copper pennies! After pouting a bit about it, I pulled the pennies off (thank goodness for a gallon of acetone). It would have taken some time to clean the dried glue/epoxy off those pennies amounting to some messy work I wasn't up for. It was all I could do not throw them away! But then it was almost $50. So, I got another $47 dollars’ worth of pennies promising myself I would clean the soiled ones later. Needless to say, the second time I “re-pennied”, it went much faster and I even add a trim around the circular top this time!
I love the overall result despite my “learning experience.” I spent $200 dollars on the project excluding time. It’s a great focal and conversation point for guests.
Oh and the soiled pennies, later in early winter I had a family of guests stay with me who were in town to take the train ride “Polar Express” held here in winter. A 13-year in the group was very intrigued with the spool, I told him my story and offered if he could guess the number of pennies, I would give him a prize. With a few hints, he got there. And yes (after making the mom promise not to hate me) I gave this young lad the dirty pennies that he would have to clean in order to exchange for dollar bills!
By the way, if anyone is up for dessert. I have the fixings for gourmet s'mores with graham crackers and assorted other types of cookies and crackers, a variety of flavored chocolates (mint, cookies and cream, white, chili, dark, traditional milk chocolate), different kinds of jars of nut butters and Nutella (of course) and last but not least: marshmallows!
What will be your special backyard spot that you will create that draws you out to enjoy a meal changing up your eating venue, should seating be limited at restaurants?