How To Make A Garden Table From Railway Sleepers

Railway sleepers, often used in the construction of railway tracks, have found a new purpose in the world of gardening and outdoor furniture. Their durable and weather-resistant nature makes them an ideal material for creating unique and sturdy garden tables.

In this comprehensive guide, we will explore the step-by-step process of crafting a garden table from railway sleepers, including:

  1. The materials needed
  2. Preparation techniques
  3. Assembly instructions
  4. Finishing touches
  5. Maintenance tips

Whether you’re a seasoned DIY enthusiast or a novice looking to add a rustic touch to your outdoor space, this article will provide you with all the essential information to bring your vision to life. We’ll discuss alternative design ideas for utilising railway sleepers in creating distinctive garden tables. So, let’s delve into the world of creative woodworking and discover how to transform these reclaimed materials into a stunning centerpiece for your garden.

What Are Railway Sleepers?

Railway sleepers are typically made from wood, concrete, or composite materials and are designed to provide stability and support for the tracks, ensuring the safe and efficient operation of trains.

In garden landscaping, these versatile pieces can be repurposed for a variety of outdoor projects such as creating raised flower beds, retaining walls, or even outdoor furniture. The weathered appearance of reclaimed railway sleepers adds a rustic charm to garden designs, making them a popular choice for both traditional and contemporary outdoor settings. Their durability and strength make them an ideal choice for enhancing the aesthetic and functionality of outdoor spaces.

Why Use Railway Sleepers for a Garden Table?

Railway sleepers are an excellent choice for constructing a garden table due to their durability and visual appeal.

Their robust nature ensures that the garden table will withstand outdoor conditions for years to come. The natural, weathered appearance of railway sleepers adds a rustic charm to the garden, enhancing its overall aesthetic. Their resistance to rot and decay makes them perfect for outdoor use, eliminating the need for frequent maintenance.

The sturdy construction of railway sleepers provides a stable foundation for the garden table, promising longevity and reliability. Utilising these materials not only ensures a sustainable approach but also allows for a unique, character-filled piece of furniture in the garden.

What materials do you need?

To create a garden table from railway sleepers, you will need several essential materials, including the railway sleepers themselves, screws, a drill, a saw, and a measuring tape.

Railway sleepers are the primary building blocks for this project, providing the foundation and structure for the table. These sturdy and durable sleepers are often treated to withstand outdoor elements, making them ideal for garden furniture.

Screws are essential for securing the sleepers together, ensuring stability and longevity. A drill will be necessary to create pilot holes and drive the screws into the wood. A saw is crucial for cutting the sleepers to the desired lengths and shapes, while a measuring tape is crucial for precise and accurate dimensions during the construction process.

Railway Sleepers

Railway sleepers play a vital role in constructing a durable and robust garden table. They provide unparalleled structural integrity, making them an ideal choice for outdoor furniture. The natural resistance of railway sleepers to weather and pests ensures longevity and minimal maintenance, perfect for withstanding the elements in a garden setting. The rustic aesthetic and character of the weathered wood also add a unique charm to the table, making it a standout feature in any outdoor space. With their history and strength, railway sleepers are not just a practical choice but also lend a sense of history and tradition to the garden table.


Screws are essential for fastening the railway sleepers together during the construction of the garden table, providing secure connections and structural stability for the assembled pieces.

They play a crucial role in ensuring that the table is not only sturdy but also durable, as they firmly hold the sleepers in place. Without the screws, the sleepers might shift and compromise the integrity of the table.

Screws are versatile, being able to be used in various types of construction projects, from simple DIY tasks to complex industrial applications. Their ability to create strong and long-lasting connections makes them a fundamental component in construction and woodworking projects.


Using a drill to create precise holes for screw placement is essential in constructing a garden table using railway sleepers. It ensures that the screws fit snugly into the wood, providing stability and longevity to the structure. By facilitating the accurate alignment of the screws, the drill plays a vital role in ensuring the overall quality and durability of the garden table. Its efficient operation allows for a smoother and more streamlined construction process, saving time and effort for the DIY enthusiast.

The drill enables the customisation of hole sizes, accommodating different types of screws and fasteners to meet specific design requirements.

I saw

The saw plays a crucial role in cutting and shaping the railway sleepers for the garden table construction project. It is essential for ensuring that the sleepers are precisely cut to the required dimensions, allowing for a sturdy and well-fitted structure. The saw’s precision and power enable the crafting of smooth and uniform cuts, contributing to the overall quality and aesthetics of the finished garden table. The saw’s versatility allows for intricate designs and embellishments, adding a personalised touch to the construction. Its efficiency in handling the sleepers not only saves time but also ensures that the project meets the desired standards of durability and functionality.

Measuring Tape

Ensuring the accurate measurement of railway sleepers is crucial for the construction process of a garden table.

Using a measuring tape is vital in determining the precise length and width of the sleepers, allowing for seamless assembly and a sturdy final product. The accurate measurement ensures that the sleepers fit perfectly into the desired table design, preventing any gaps or instability. Precise measurements aid in determining the spacing between sleepers, contributing to the overall aesthetic appeal and functionality of the garden table.

With proper measurements, the construction process becomes more efficient and the end result is a beautifully crafted and durable piece of furniture for outdoor enjoyment.

How to Prepare the Railway Sleepers?

Preparing railway sleepers for construction involves several important steps to ensure their suitability for use.

  1. First, thoroughly clean the railway sleepers to remove any dirt, grime, or debris. Use a stiff brush or a pressure washer to scrub away any surface contaminants.
  2. Once the sleepers are clean and dry, carefully inspect them for any signs of damage or wear.
  3. Next, sand the surfaces of the sleepers to smooth out any rough spots and ensure a clean, even finish.
  4. When cutting the sleepers, be sure to use a precise and reliable saw or cutting tool to achieve precise measurements and smooth edges.

These steps are crucial to preparing railway sleepers for successful construction projects.

Clean and sand the sleepers

Preparing the railway sleepers for use in constructing a garden table requires thorough cleaning and sanding.

This process is essential for ensuring that the surface is free from dirt, debris, and any previous coatings. Begin by using a stiff brush to remove any loose material before sanding the surface to achieve a smooth finish. Pay careful attention to the edges and corners to ensure all areas are adequately prepared. Once the sleepers are cleaned and sanded, they are ready for the next steps in the construction process, such as cutting and assembling them for the garden table.

Cut the Sleepers to Desired Length

Cutting the railway sleepers to the desired lengths is a critical step in preparing them for the garden table construction, allowing for customisation and adaptation to the project’s specific requirements.

This process requires precision and careful measurement to ensure that the sleepers fit perfectly for the table design. It’s crucial to consider the dimensions of the garden area and the desired table size to create a harmonious outdoor space. By customising the lengths of the sleepers, the table can be tailored to fit any garden, making it a versatile and adaptable piece of furniture. This adaptability allows for creativity in design, as the dimensions can be adjusted to both large and small-scale projects.

How to Assemble the Garden Table?

Assembling the garden table involves strategically laying out the railway sleepers, drilling holes for screws, and securely fastening the components to create a sturdy and functional outdoor furniture piece.

  1. Begin by arranging the railway sleepers in the desired table shape, ensuring they are level and evenly spaced.
  2. Next, use a drill with a suitable wood bit to create pilot holes for the screws, ensuring they align with the joining points of the sleepers.
  3. Once the holes are drilled, carefully fasten the sleepers together using sturdy screws, ensuring a tight and secure fit.
  4. Double-check the alignment and stability of the table before adding the finishing touches to complete the assembly process.

Place the sleepers

The initial step in assembling the garden table involves laying out the railway sleepers in the desired configuration, considering design aspects and positioning to achieve the intended aesthetic and functional appeal.

This process is crucial as it sets the foundation for the entire structure. Careful consideration should be given to the orientation of the sleepers to enhance the visual appeal and ensure stability. The chosen arrangement should complement the overall garden design, utilising the natural texture and colour variations of the sleepers. Proper positioning is essential to facilitate ease of use and functionality, ensuring that the table is both practical and visually pleasing. By thoughtfully planning the placement of the sleepers, the assembly will seamlessly integrate into the outdoor space.

Drill Holes for Screws

Drilling holes into the positioned railway sleepers is essential for facilitating the secure fastening of components, ensuring structural integrity and stability for the assembled garden table.

This process requires precision and attention to detail to ensure that the screws are inserted at the correct angles and depths. The holes must be aligned properly to accommodate the screws, providing a strong and durable connection between the various parts of the garden table. Using the appropriate drill bit size and power setting is crucial to prevent splintering or weakening of the sleepers during the drilling. Properly drilled holes contribute significantly to the overall quality and longevity of the garden table, making it a crucial step in the assembly process.

Screw the Sleepers Together

Screwing the railway sleepers together forms the foundational structure of the garden table, ensuring the secure and stable assembly of the components for a functional and durable outdoor furniture piece.

This assembly process involves carefully aligning the sleepers to create the desired table size and shape before drilling pilot holes and then securing the sleepers with appropriate screws. The use of galvanised or stainless steel screws is crucial to prevent corrosion and ensure the longevity of the garden table. A power drill with a screwdriver attachment can expedite the process, but it’s important to exercise caution to avoid over-tightening the screws and potentially damaging the wood. Each connection point should be double-checked to guarantee the stability and strength of the entire structure, providing a reliable base for the table.

How to Finish the Garden Table?

Finishing the garden table involves applying varnish or paint to enhance the aesthetics, followed by adding a protective coat to safeguard the railway sleepers from outdoor elements and environmental factors.

Once you have chosen your desired method of finishing, it’s crucial to prepare the railway sleepers by sanding them down to create a smooth surface for the varnish or paint to adhere to. After this, carefully apply the varnish or paint evenly, following the manufacturer’s instructions for drying times.

To ensure long-lasting protection, it’s recommended to apply a sealant or varnish specifically designed for outdoor wooden furniture. This extra layer will shield the table from moisture, UV rays, and general wear and tear, preserving the beauty of the railway sleepers for years to come.

Stain or Paint the Table

Applying stain or paint to the garden table enhances its visual appeal, allowing for personalisation and aesthetic customisation to complement the outdoor environment and landscaping.

The staining or painting process involves selecting the right colour and type of stain or paint to achieve the desired look. Whether it’s a bold pop of colour to add vibrancy to the space or a natural, weathered finish to blend with the surroundings, the choice of stain or paint plays a crucial role.

The technique of application, whether it’s brush strokes for a rustic feel or smooth, even coats for a modern touch, contributes to the overall aesthetic. This customisation not only adds character to the garden table but also reflects the homeowner’s personal style and preferences, creating a unique outdoor living space.

Apply a Protective Layer

Adding a protective coat to the garden table safeguards the railway sleepers from moisture, UV exposure, and outdoor elements, ensuring long-term durability and resistance to environmental factors.

This process involves meticulously cleaning and sanding the surface to ensure a smooth and even application of the protective coat. Once the surface is prepared, the protective coat, such as a weather-resistant varnish or sealant, is carefully applied. This serves as a barrier, preventing water penetration and minimising the effects of sunlight and other outdoor elements. With regular maintenance and reapplication as needed, the protective coat significantly extends the lifespan of the garden table, preserving its natural beauty and functionality for years to come.

How to Care for the Garden Table?

When it comes to maintaining a garden table constructed from railway sleepers, comprehensive care and maintenance are crucial. Regularly cleaning the table surface with a mild soap and water solution is essential to remove dirt, grime, and any organic matter that may accumulate. Reapplying a protective coat of wood sealant or varnish every 1-2 years can help to safeguard the table from moisture, UV rays, and general wear and tear. During adverse weather conditions, such as heavy rain or snow, it’s advisable to cover the table with a waterproof tarpaulin or move it to a sheltered area to prevent damage and prolong its lifespan.

Clean and reapply protective coating regularly

Regularly cleaning the garden table and reapplying the protective coating are essential maintenance practices to ensure its long-term resilience and aesthetic appeal, especially in outdoor settings.

This routine upkeep helps to prevent the accumulation of dirt, grime, and environmental pollutants that can deteriorate the table’s surface over time. Reapplying the protective coating creates a barrier against harsh weather elements, such as UV rays, rain, and moisture, which can cause fading, warping, or rotting. As a result, the garden table not only retains its visual allure but also maintains its structural integrity, ensuring that it stays functional and inviting for outdoor gatherings and leisure activities.

Cover or Store the Table During Harsh Weather

During adverse weather conditions, it is advisable to cover or store the garden table to protect it from environmental elements and preserve its structural integrity and aesthetic qualities.

This simple protective measure can significantly extend the lifespan of the garden table by shielding it from rain, snow, and excessive sunlight. By preventing moisture penetration and potential warping or corrosion, covering or storing the table ensures that it remains in prime condition for many seasons to come. Safeguarding the table from adverse weather also reduces the frequency of maintenance, saving both time and effort for the gardener or homeowner. These precautions ultimately contribute to a well-maintained outdoor space and an enhanced overall look and feel of the garden.

Alternative Designs for a Garden Table with Railway Sleepers

In addition to traditional garden tables, railway sleepers offer versatile options for alternative designs such as using them as legs for tables or creating raised garden beds, expanding the possibilities for outdoor furniture and landscaping projects.

This unique use of railway sleepers can add a rustic and natural touch to garden furniture whilst also providing durability and sturdiness. For example, repurposing sleepers as table legs can create a striking and robust support for a variety of tabletop materials, from reclaimed wood to sleek glass.

Constructing raised garden beds with railway sleepers not only serves as a functional element for gardening but also adds aesthetic appeal to the overall landscape design.

Using Railway Sleepers as Legs

Railway sleepers have become a popular choice for crafting unique and sturdy table legs. Their robust structure and rustic appearance lend an industrial charm to interior spaces, making them a sought-after addition to modern and eclectic design aesthetics. The use of railway sleepers not only adds a touch of historical significance to furniture but also promotes sustainable design practices by repurposing materials.

The sheer weight and density of these sleepers ensure unparalleled stability, making them an ideal choice for supporting heavy tabletops and providing a durable foundation for tables of all sizes.

Creating a Raised Garden Bed with Sleepers

Constructing raised garden beds using railway sleepers can significantly contribute to efficient space utilisation, making them suitable for both urban and rural gardening environments. The integration of these materials adds a rustic charm to outdoor settings, lending a timeless and classic touch to the overall landscape design.

Scroll to Top