stop sign table

Stop-sign table.

This is a large end table made from a found object (the stop sign) and an inexpensive, commercially-available water heater stand.

The assembly process illustrated:  A stop sign and water-heater stand are bolted together to produce the finished table.

In many ways, the stop sign is ideal as a table surface. It is aluminum, and therefore lightweight and noncorroding. The surface finish is very tough, having been designed to stand up to years of rain, sun, grit, and extreme temperatures by the side of the road. It came with mounting holes pre-drilled. Lastly, because it is octagonal, its corners are not very sharp, and are quite forgiving if one should accidentally bump into them.

Side view showing orientation of water heater stand/leg assembly in finished table.

As for the water heater stand, it is inexpensive and sturdy, comes pre- finished in black (to match any decor), and is provided with 4 black plastic caps press-fit over the upper ends of the square steel tubing legs. These, presumably, are to protect the purchaser's water heater and/or fingers from damage against the sharp edges of the the exposed steel during installation. In the table configuration, however, the upper ends of the legs are flush against the backside of the stop sign, and are not exposed. Therefore, the plastic caps were removed and transferred to the lower ends of the legs, where they serve well to protect the floor from damage against the sharp edges of the exposed steel.

Detail showing machine screw in counter-sunk hole flush with table surface.

Assembly is minimal. Two .25" holes are drilled through one of the crossed horizontal steel members of the water heater stand, positioned to line up with the two holes already in the stop sign as it was found, and to center the water heater stand under the sign. The holes in the stop sign are counter-sunk slightly, so that the heads of 1/4-20 x 2.5" machine screws will sit flush with the surface of the table. Finally, a single screw is passed through each set of holes, and secured underneath with a washer, lock washer, and wing nut.

Detail showing machine screws with wing nut for attachment and doubled-up stop nuts to prevent over-tightening.

Note, also, the doubled-up hex nuts threaded onto the screws above the horizontal steel member. These nuts serve as stops to protect the surface of the table from warpage caused by possible over-tightening. They are tightened against each other using wrenches during initial assembly. Thereafter, the surface of the table can be removed for storage or transport, and re-attached simply by tightening the wing nuts with the fingers until snug.


Stop-sign table.

Since first publishing this page, it has come to my attention that there are, in fact, many different sizes of STOP signs in the universe. The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices promulgated by the Federal Highway Administration specifies no fewer than 4 different sizes for the familiar STOP sign. That used in the construction of the stop sign table is the second largest of these; it measures 30x30". The other "standard" sizes are 18x18", 24x24", and 36x36".


Commercially-available table, in the same spirit, by artist Tripp Gregson.

Sometime in 2004, I think, I spied this table by artist Tripp Gregson in an issue of the Uncommon Goods print catalog. It shows considerably more craftsmanship than my table and, with collapsing legs, is much better suited to shipping and storage. Cutting the sign round, however, also generates more waste (albeit of the rather benign sheet-metal variety), and complicates manufacture by requiring access to an appropriate saw or torch. Mr. Gregson has added just enough specialized labor to the concept to turn it into a marketable product instead of a DIY project. Certainly the idea of making a table out of a stop sign is obvious enough, but the fact remains that Googling "Stop sign table" returned this page, which was first posted in January 2002, for well more than a year before Mr. Gregson's table appeared on the scene. Whether or not he'd seen my site before undertaking the commodification of the idea is something only Mr. Gregson knows.