There are a lot of awesome pallet projects on Instructables, so I figured it'd be cool to show my take on a DIY pallet bench made with 100% Pallet Wood. Hope it inspires you to make one so you have a place to kick back in your back yard!
NOTE: Use proper PPE (personal protective equipment) whenever you use power tools.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- about 4-6 pallets (depending on how many viable deck boards can be reused per pallet)
- 1 1/2" deck screws
- Olympic Maximum Solid Stain (Mahogany)-Although you can use any finish you'd like
- Measuring Tape
- Miter Saw-or a similar cutting tool such as a circular saw or just a regular hand saw
- Paint/Stain Brush
- Sand paper
- Palm sander
Step 2: Obtaining Your Custom Dimensions
Here's were I got a little creative. I took a measuring tape and roughly estimated the diameter of the tree in my backyard. After I calculated the side measurements, I didn't use the value the hexagon calculator spit out. Instead, I bumped it up by a few inches. This is because 1) the tree is still growing and 2) I wanted enough space to have an angled back rest.
Ok, how did I get the exact dimensions?
I went to http://www.had2know.com/academics/hexagon-measurement-calculator.html, plugged in 22 for my "h", clicked on calculate, and it gave me the value for "s", which turned out to be 12.70. That means that I needed to have the inner most side of the hexagon be at least 13", but because of the reasons mentioned above, I bumped it to 16 ".
Step 3: Break Down Pallets
For this pallet project, I broke down the pallets by using a reciprocating saw (like in the video), but I also used a hammer and flat pry bar. I didn't use the circular saw method because I wanted to have the whole length of the top deck boards available. If I used the circular saw, then that would have shorten the boards by a few inches.
I can honestly say, it's not as simple to break apart pallets. I ended up switching back and forth between the reciprocating saw and the hammer and flat pry bar because the blades do get dull with the nails that are used and also because it takes a long time to pry off the boards. Nevertheless, make sure you remove the nails from the boards before you assemble your bench.
Step 4: Cut Your Blanks for the Bottom Half (Seat and Legs)
After breaking down the pallets to get the individual deck boards, I used the value 16" from the dimensions calculated two steps above. I made a 30° cut on both sides of the board to, essentially, make a trapezoid (with the short side being the 16"). I then aligned three more deck boards next to that first board I had just cut. With a ruler and a pencil I extended the line where I made the 30° cut. I did this for both sides. These four pieces will make one of the six seats/sides of the bench. By this point you'll have 24 usable pieces.
You'll need six runners to make six pairs/sets of legs -includes front and back. To make two legs from one runner, measure 16" from one end. The smaller piece will be used for the front leg and the longer piece will be used for the back leg and the back rest.
Step 5: Sanding (part 1)
I used 80 grit sandpaper and a palm sander to sand the surfaces. I paid special attention to the surfaces that we will come in contact when we sit down, especially the edges, because I wanted to avoid pricks by splinters. When I sanded the legs, I just did a quick pass to get rid of rough surfaces.
Step 6: Assemble the Bottom Half
Do you have a hexagon?
After cutting the boards for the seats, I laid them out on the ground to make sure they all fit together well, then I began to assemble the seat board supports, which actually double as the legs and back rest.
As you can see from the third picture in this step, I used a template to set the front and back legs 9" apart and used the scrap deck boards that I cut to 18" to secure them. These boards will also be used when I screw down the seat boards. I used two of the 18" boards (one on each side) per set of legs. I drilled two pilot holes on the 18" boards and screwed them onto the legs. There are a total of six leg sets, so you'll need twelve 18" boards.
After making your legs, take one set of legs and something else that is about the same height and is stable. I used the same ottoman/seat that I used to determine the height of the legs. Now stand one set of legs and place the four seat boards (one of each size) with one end aligned the center of the legs and the other end resting on the stable item you decide on using. I pre-drilled one hole per end and then screwed in a screw through the seat board and into the 18" board that is holding the legs together. Once those first four ends are secure, take another set of legs and swap it with the item you used to rest the other ends of the boards. Once again, I pre-drilled before securing the boards down with a screw. When you finish securing the four boards to the two sets of legs, it will be able to stand on its own, so take another set of legs and secure it to either side of the two sets of legs with another four seat boards. See the last picture in this step. Stop there and don't add more legs to that set.
Make another seat set just like described above. After you make the second set, you'll have two pieces of the bench that are made up of three sets of legs and eight seat boards each. Now let's move on to the next step so you can find out what you'll do with the remaining eight seat boards.
Step 7: Assemble Around Tree
Ok. Let's see how we can utilize those last eight seat boards.
Take the two pieces of the bench you just built in the previous step and place them on opposite sides of the tree.
Note: If your tree has roots that are exposed (like my tree) or the ground is uneven (like my ground), you may have to adjust the position of the legs to fit around the roots or even cut off an few inches from a leg. Heck! I even used a few pavers to make the bench level!
How do you know the two pieces are placed correctly? Take two of the smallest seat boards and place them in between the two pieces on opposite sides. When you determine that the two pieces are in the right place, secure them to each other by screwing in four seat boards. See the fourth and fifth pictures in this step. Repeat with the opposite side.
After you complete this step, your bottom half of the bench should be complete around the tree.
Let's go over to the next stop to learn how to cut the pieces for the back rest!
Step 8: Cut Back Boards for Upper Half
I only used two boards per side. One was a skinny deck board and the other was a wider deck board.
The skinny board was placed at the top and the wider board below it, with a small gap in between the two boards.
With a pencil I made a mark in the center of each end of the back legs. See the first picture of this step. This will be used as a guide to cut each back rest board.
Before I added the first back board, I placed the skinny board flat on the miter saw and made a 30° cut at one end. I took that end and aligned it with the mark I made on the top of the back leg and then I used the mark on the leg to the left to make a mark on the skinny board. See the second picture of this step. I made a 30° cut on this end and I repeated the same process with the rest of the skinny and wide boards.
Step 9: Sanding (part 2)
Same as with the other pieces in this 'ible, I used 80 grit sand paper and a palm sander to get rid of any rough spots on the boards.
Step 10: Assemble the Top Half
Now that you've cut your boards for the back rest, let's put them on the bench!
Top Back Board
Measure 12" from the seat and mark a line on the leg. This is where you'll place the bottom of the skinny back board. This will allow the board to be high enough to cover the end of the back leg. Start by placing the skinny board on the line and pre-drilling a hole through one end and into the back leg. Secure the board with a screw. Place a level on the board to make sure the board is level. When you get it leveled, drill another pilot hole on the other end and then secure it with a screw.
Bottom Back Board
Now measure 4" from the bottom and mark a line. This is where you'll place the bottom of the wide boards.
See last picture for captions. Repeat the same steps as with the top back board to affix the bottom back boards.
Step 11: Give It a Little Color
Once you finish assembling your bench, you can either leave it unfinished or finish it with a clear coat of varnish, stain, or paint. I opted for the Mahogany colored deck paint because I also made a pallet table later that week and I wanted them to match. Check out that pallet table 'ible here. I only applied one coat because I figured the bench will be used for sitting and not standing or walking. :-)
Step 12: Kick Back and Relax!
There's nothing else more to say other than enjoy your new hexagonal pallet tree bench!
Thanks for taking the time to look at my Instructable. I've entered this Instructable in the Epilog contest and if I were to win a laser cutter, then I would use it to make intricate designs on metal and on leather bracelets and cuffs (hint, hint, next 'ible).
Please don't forget to follow me here and on YouTube. If you want a chance to win one of the DIY projects I make, then head over to my YouTube channel and subscribe there. Thanks.
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