Best Cable Drum Ideas: Inspiration For Upcycling Wooden Cable Reels

When it comes to upcycling, there’s one thing that everyone can get their hands on with ease – cable drums. 

Cable drums are large round objects used to transport wires and cables. The cable or wire is wrapped around its cylindrical center and can be rolled to designated areas. They can be made from lots of different materials including steel and plastic, but the most common material is wood. 

Wooden cable drums can be used to carry heavy loads and are cheaper to make, hence why there are so many available for low prices or for free. 

So because they are so easy to find, a lot of people look towards upcycling their own cable drum – but into what?

Cable drums are incredibly versatile and there are so many things you can make out of them. Here are just a few ideas for you to take inspiration from and try out yourself! 

Best Cable Drum Ideas: Inspiration For Upcycling Wooden Cable Reels

Coffee Table/ Side Table

This is probably the most common upcycling idea you will find for wooden cable reels. 

Just tip it onto its side and you will have a firm and stable surface capable of being used as a sort of short table. 

Coffee table, side table – it all depends on where you want to place your upcycled cable drum. 

Most of the time, all the cable drum needs is a layer of varnish or a lick of paint for it to suit your room’s aesthetic and color palette. You can even get creative and add additional curved shelves, or cut the cable drum in half for a semicircle shaped side table. Some creative up-cyclers even wrap the rope around the cylinder of the cable drum for a softer design. 

Place your cable drum side table in a hallway for a surface to leave your keys, or near your TV for somewhere to put your consoles. This idea for upcycling a cable table is very versatile and is perfect for indoor and outdoor use. 

Coffee Table/ Side Table


The circular hollow of a cable drum is huge and can be a great place to store books, magazines, DVDs or CDs. 

All you have to do is add additional sections and shelves to divide up the space. 

This can be easily done with a few extra panels of wood slotted into place. Then, you will be left with a circular bookshelf that can fit easily next to your sofa or double as a coffee table in the center of your room. Add potted plants or small decorations to really enhance the atmosphere in the room. 

Garden Planter 

If you love gardening or want a way to shake things up in your front garden, then try transforming an old cable drum into a fun wooden garden planter. 

All you have to do is follow out the center cylinder and fix it up so it retains soil and water. Then, flip it into its side and plant a bunch of different flowers in your new garden planter. 

It’s a great way to bring some color and greenery into your garden if you still want to keep a tidy lawn or have stone outdoor flooring. You can also paint these planets with any kind of pattern or colors you like to really liven up your garden space. 

Why not paint additional flower patterns or toadstool designs onto the side of your planter for a fun and cute way to decorate your garden? 

Plus, it helps out your local ecosystem by allowing you to bring flowers to your area without sacrificing much space in your garden – and gives you a project to work on and keep your hands busy. 


Looking at the cable drum from above, you are left with a perfectly round circle that acts as a flat surface. Why not turn that flat circle into a wooden clock face? 

If you have always liked the idea of a large rustic clock hanging on your living room wall, then you can make your own using one of the wheels of a cable drum and some extra pits of scrap metal. 

Varnish or paint the clock face as you desire and either make your own clock or buy one from a retailer. Attach the two together and you will have your very own amazing rustic clock.


Another great option for upcycling cable drums includes using many of its components to make various styles of seating. 

Benches, stools, outdoor chairs – the freedom is yours.

There are also a lot of different ways you can turn a cable drum into a form of seating. You can use the circular ends as the arms or the back of a bench, use the center cylinder as the base or seat of a stool, or cut it in half and use it as a base for a low bench seat. 

Get creative and you can soon think up a million ways to use a single cable drum as outdoor seating. 


Similar to the bookshelf idea, you can transform your cable drum into a way to stack up items in a pantry. 

Use just one or multiple cable drums and build a rotating stack of selves, or quarter a single cable drum and use it to build a stack of shelves for the corner of your room. Some use these shelves to display bottles of wine or potted plants outdoors. 

Using the circular shape of a cable drum is what makes these types of shelves far more attractive and fun than regular shelving so if you want to shake up the shapes in your living room or kitchen, try out some circular shelving by upcycling a cable drum. 

Light Fixtures

Another great way to use the round flat surface of a cable drum is to use it as part of your light fixtures. 

You can use the circle base of the cable drum as a base for your ceiling light, or even the base for a tall lamp. Just run the electrical wires through and you will have a rustic design for your lights in no time. 

Rocking Chair 

Another type of seating with a twist, why not try making your very own rocking chair using the circular components of a cable drum. It’s just as easy as making a regular chair but with the added fun of curved feet, allowing you to swing back and forth. 

Great for nurseries or outside decoration, a rocking chair is a great way to show off your skills by making this classic piece of furniture out of nothing but old cable drums.


When it comes to making some patio decking, you can shake things up by including circular shapes in the flooring. Instead of using the same boring straight planks of wood, try using the circular ends of cable drums to make decking out of circle shapes instead. 

Not only will your garden decking look completely unique, but it’ll also improve the atmosphere and environment of your garden overall and really show off your carpentry skills to your guests and neighbors. 


And those are just a few of the many ways you can use old wooden cable drums to make some new and fresh furniture! 

Because cable drums are made from wood and are perfectly circular, they are a great way to source some circular pieces of wood for any project that you have in mind. 

Take a look at the ideas above for inspiration and then all that’s left for you to do is to get your hands on a cable drum and start working!

Ida Oliveira
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