Instructables
Picture of Pallet Coffee Table From Reclaimed Wood
Looking to get an industrial, vintage look in your house but can't find a contemporary table to suit your needs? Frustrated at the 249£ price tag of the Legion Pallet Table offered by Made.com and think you can do an equally decent job yourself? Enthusiastic to start your own project but don't know what you'll be facing?

I hope this instructable will give you an opinion on the scope of the work to make your own pallet coffee table.
 
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Step 1:

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First of all, the necessary materials:

You need to find a decent pallet, one which still can hold itself and is not too broken down. We personally didn't want to get a brand new one, as we thought that each scuff, patina and dent would add to the natural character and history of the pallet. Besides, we really wanted to make this project out of reclaimed wood.

We went to a pallet yard in the outskirts of the town where there was the possibility of choosing from hundreds of units. We eventually got an EPAL (Euro Pallet) measuring 120×80 centimeters (31.50×47.24 in), which cost us around 8$.

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Where do you find a rotating fiber brush?

boilthemonkey made it!7 months ago

Thanks for the tips! I made mine with 12" steel pipe legs from Home Depot and a black cherry finish. Also: I flipped the top pieces over so the nail holes in the wood didn't show up. Took me about 30 hours, but I haven't done any woodworking since high school.

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MyKrusl8 months ago
Great job bro! I like the finish you put on it. I'm definetly going to need to try that out on a couple if things that need a finish on it around the house.
I am building this right now! Just making a few changes to the design though. ill post the pics and probably an instructable soon too! I think ill add casters to it like you did..
I have found that the best way to dismantle the palettes is with a sawzall. Cut the slats free from then stringers and then pop the nail heads out with a nail set and a hammer.
keremulu (author)  Mugsy Knuckles2 years ago
You're right Mugsy, I did use an angle grinder (unfortunately I don't have a sawzall) to cut one or two of them after having separated the slats a bit, but the problem is that once you cut the the 5 inch nails which are used on the blocks, it's practically impossible to remove the pieces left stuck in the blocks.

What you say is perfectly true for the shorter nails, once you cut them it's easy to drive them out with a punch.

I also had this inexplicable urge to free the pallet from all rusty, dirty metal materials, which is why I really tried to completely remove each one of them out, without risking to leave any pieces of nail in the wooden blocks.

But then, I'm coming to see that the pincer was a little out of place as it damaged the wood a lot. I would heavily recommend a crowbar which makes the removal of the nails much much easier (hence the perfect advantage of a much firmer fulcrum and lever).
I have spent more time working with palettes and have decided the best way to take them apart is a tool called "the duck bill deck wrecker". I can now pull them apart in minutes without splitting the boards and then hammer the nails out at home at my leisure.
They have them cheap on amazon. It changed the game so much that I am saving hours and hours on preprocessing now.
claudg19501 year ago
I'm concerned that soap will rust the screws. I would use wax, grease or some dense oil instead.
joshme1 year ago
I have finally finished my table! It looks a lot like yours, although I think it lacks some of the finer touches. I learned a lot and have some tips to share. For the casters, the cheapest I found were from NorthernTool.com where 4x 6" locking swivel casters cost me about $70 with shipping. Unfortunately, I didn't consider the size of the plate on the casters, and as a result the plate ended up being too wide to fit on the wood skid. It hangs off, and I had to insert my lag screws at an angle to make it work. I also only used 3 screws on each caster because of issues fitting them. Note that using 6" casters still makes this a pretty short table at ~13" tall. Most coffee tables in stores are around 17", so if you want to keep the cool look but make it a bit taller I recommend looking for hairpin legs. You can get them cheaper than casters online, and in a variety of heights.

I'm disappointed with the stain I used. I went with Minwax water-based stain since the water-based stuff is way easier to work with. Unfortunately, it looks a bit splotchy, even after a coat of pre-stain conditioner, and it looks almost more like paint than stain on the end pieces of wood. The water based polycrylic looks a bit too plasticy, too. Next time I'll probably go with some type of oil finish, or maybe even wax.

I wish I had sanded more before staining. There are pieces of the wood that are still a bit splintery, which is unfortunate.

If I think of more tips I'll post them here in the comments.
I wanted to say THANK YOU again for such a great instructable! This was my first major project like this, and I hope to do more in the future.
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joshme joshme1 year ago
Oh, one other tip: Next time I would probably stain and varnish the wood slats before assembling.Then you can touch up later as needed, but this has a couple benefits: (1) it's easier to work with the slats when they're not assembled, (2) it was hard to get the stain into the little crevices between slats, and (3) since any smudges of wood glue prevent the stain from sticking well, staining before gluing will have fewer irregularities.
kaisergb1 year ago
Beautiful finished piece and good instructions. Thank you.
lhsu11 year ago
I think your table is awesome and I would love to make an attempt this summer. I have never built anything besides Ikea furniture. So please bare with me with my inexperienced questions. In your instructions, you glued the table together. Does it need to be reinforced with nails? Or is the glue strong enough to hold it all together? Thanks!
keremulu (author)  lhsu11 year ago
Hi Ihsu,

Many thanks for nice comment. Any questions are welcome and I will gladly answer yours. The answer to whether the table needs to be reinforced with nails is a definite 'no'. I actually did it, but chose completely to omit the process from the instructable since I thought it would be misleading. After having glued the pieces together, I drove in 5 inch nails through every block with great effort. What I had in mind was to assemble the pallet as close as it would get to the original and I also thought that the nail heads would show themselves on the surface of the woods.

First of all, the bonding surfaces here are so large and wood glue is so strong that I don't think any force would be able to separate the slats from each other in one piece. Period. If you don't trust wood glue, use polyurethane glue or epoxy, but believe me the white wood adhesive I used is more than enough to do the job. Before I took the pallet apart, the joints were quite loose, flexible and they were also squeaking. Now, it's just a single piece of solid furniture.

After I drove in the nails, I came to see that they were pretty deep in from the surface, the holes had been enlarged from the brushing I did. Still, no problem since the heads where still visible. This was before the lacquer. During the lacquering, I noticed that the liquid was puddling in the dented parts of the wood. In the end, after the numerous coats I applied, a smooth filling of lacquer covered up all the nail heads, making the whole point of using them irrelevant (As I said, no structural use from the nails and after the lacquering, no decorative use either). Don't get me wrong, I do like it the way it is, it's just that the effort I went through showed to be pointless.

I’m sure you’ll put together a fantastic pallet furniture in the upcoming months. Cheers!
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smont291 year ago
Great piece!
joshme1 year ago
Thank you so much for this detailed instructable! Beautiful table, and wonderful instructions. One question: I didn't see much discussion of the rounded edges, and your photos seem to go from sharp corners to rounded all of a sudden. How did you round those out - was it a rotary tool, router, or some type of sander?
keremulu (author)  joshme1 year ago
Hi Joshme,

Many thanks for the comments. You're quite right about the edges, I seem to have omitted the rounding process. I used a robust belt sander to soften the corners a bit, again mostly because of concern for the baby in the house. He hasn't started to crawl or discover the world yet, but I'm curious as how much the table will turn out to be 'baby friendly'. I'm just trying to comfort my conscience with the fact that I put in a great deal of time just to sand and soften the wood.

Anyway, I would definitely recommend using a rasp or heavy grit belt sander for eating away the wood. However, I've seen that the belt sander does not do a great job in sanding flat surfaces, again as it eats away too much material and gets out of control.
JasonE1 year ago
Nice work - can't wait to start on my own!
Orkekum1 year ago
Why is it a good idea to soap the screws? Sounds so screwed
keremulu (author)  Orkekum1 year ago
Driving screws can be a challenge, especially in hard woods even when you pre-drill a pilot hole. While soap will help you drive a screw cleanly, there are a couple of other options. Beeswax is one popular choice and paraffin is another. It basically provides lubrication and greatly reduces the force you have to apply to drive them in.

Here in my example the magnitude of torque is considerably enhanced with the lever arm of the box wrench, so it still was not so difficult to screw them in. You would definitely feel the difference though if you were using a screwdriver. Too few people use this trick these days and it really does help.
Hmm, i will have to try it out, Thanks!
Superb result from an old pallet and a lot of elbow grease. Fantastic table!
keremulu (author)  HicksCustomFurniture1 year ago
You are most kind, thank you very much...
MaskMarvl1 year ago
Awesome looking table! Love it... :)
agis682 years ago
excellent recycle product and very good job done. Did you and chemical treatment to the woods of pallete to avoid any unpleasant insect?
keremulu (author)  agis681 year ago
Many thanks. Truth is, I didn't do anything apart from sanding and hadn't given much thought to the chemical treatment of the wood. I've coated the table so many times with lacquer that I'm hoping any bugs or insects would be sealed underneath. I hadn't noticed any flight holes from wood boring insects while working with the wood either, so I'm quite comfortable with it.
I hope you've done the right thing and be lucky at this issue....Usually woods even these from local store they need a chemical treatment for termites and some kind of worms. The vernice is not good enough. The basic treatment is shellac diluted in alcohol in dilution of 1:2 or 1:3 (1 part of dark or white shellac and 3 parts of alcohol) you cover about 4-5 layers. let dry and all is ok....you may this anytime you wish , (before any intrusion)

be happy
MissDaisy2 years ago
WOW, we'll done Keremulu !!!

I love to use and make anything with recycled material. And to think, we actually have a palette in our garage... hehehe. Showed your project to hubby and planted a few seeds :)

I love the rustic look and the casters to be able to move it around when needed. I also love the high gloss finish. I'm sure your wife is pleased and happy with the results. I know I would be.

Congrats, and am now following you... Hoping to see more of your inventions :)
keremulu (author)  MissDaisy1 year ago
Thank you very much, she really is happy with it. It's been around three months now since we've started using it and we like it more and more each day. I'm very glad to be of inspiration, I'm sure your husband will do a great job with your pallet too.
tholopotami2 years ago
Very nice work! Varnish and rounding the corners added a lot to the final result.
keremulu (author)  tholopotami1 year ago
Thank you, I put in a lot of time for the finish. I'm very glad it's appreciated.
This looks fantastic. Thank you for posting how you used the fiber brush to weather the wood too - a great idea.
keremulu (author)  duncanwilkinson1 year ago
Very kind of you, many thanks.
kretzlord2 years ago
I absolutely love the look of the finished product. For studiogrynn, i saw this instructable which might help lead people away from toxic pallets. I also found this, alternative non-toxic finishes.  Again, this table is great!
TXTCLA552 years ago
Hey there! I just finished mine today, still need to paint/varnish it though. Take a loot at the instructable link below. Thanks for the inspiration!

http://www.instructables.com/id/Modern-Reclaimed-Wood-Coffee-Table-PalletSkid-Ta/
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keremulu (author)  TXTCLA552 years ago
Just posted my comments on your instructable! Many thanks for referring to my project as an inspiration to yours, you are most kind.

The iron supports add considerably to the industrial and robust feel of the table, very well done, congratulations!
obax172 years ago
I can tell you from personal experience that a high pressure power washer would work well at getting even well worn in dirt out of wood, though it seems to leave the surface kinda 'fuzzy', I assume from bits of broken up wood fibres, and sometimes a bit splintery if you're not careful. But nothing that a good sanding wouldn't take care of, I don't think.
keremulu (author)  obax172 years ago
I understand perfectly what you mean by 'fuzzy'. I remember the same texture from driftwood washed upon the seashore. It's definitely worth a try, since the most time consuming part of this whole deal is the sanding and surface preparation of the wood.

Many thanks for the tip, I haven't had a chance to try the pressure washer yet but will surely have a go at it.
sarawelder2 years ago
very complete instructions, well done!. I do have some concern about the chemical treatment of pallets but I am not an expert. I wonder why you did not use spare wood to complete the shelf below?
keremulu (author)  sarawelder2 years ago
Thank you for the kind comments.

Since we played with the dimensions of the table and shortened the length of the pallet a little bit, the skid in the middle seemed a little obtrusive.

Being both architects with my wife, we didn't want to use this piece which seemed like it didn't add to the functionality of the table. But if I had used the pallet in it's original dimensions, I guess I would have left it intact.
Excellent job with the table, thank you for sharing with us.
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