Problem: We recently remodeled our basement and got our first real TV which was wall-mounted. However, we did not have a way to hide cords and hold our cable box and DVD player (actually it's an old Sony Playstation 3 given to me by my brother to use as a Blueray player).
Parameters: I'm a graduate student with a family and need to conserve money. Secondly, I'm cheap anyhow. Thirdly, I really enjoy recycling and upcycling as well as the design aesthetic of using reclaimed wood. Finally, my motto is "Why buy it when you can make it?".
Solution: Build a reclaimed/pallet wood TV console. I went for a rustic, artistic looking pallet bench that turned out almost exactly like I wanted it. I hope that you enjoy my project and please let me know how your making goes!
Step 1: Inspiration
I found my initial inspiration for this work when surfing the internet for pallet tables that had been built by other makers. I found this desk on a blog by Piksl Design. I was blown away by the awesomeness of the design. I knew I wanted to make something like it for our basement. I knew that I didn't have the time, equipment, or expertise to make one exactly this nice but decided to give it a shot. I also went for a slightly less "finished" look for my table to give it what my daughter refers to as a "rustic look". I sourced my boards so that they not exactly the same lengths and didn't have a perfectly flat top. However, the effect was exactly what I was going for!
Step 2: Step 1: Source Materials
Now, finding pallets is both easy and hard.
• Lots of warehouses/stores have pallets just stacked up behind their buildings waiting to be taken.
• Pallets are often considered waste and thrown out
• Pallets are usually free
• Pallets can be found free or for very nominal fees on Craigslist
• Even trash pallets shouldn't be taken without asking. So, just be a good neighbor and go to the front of the building during business hours and ask. I am lucky and answered an ad on Craigslist offering free pallets and they told me to stop by whenever I want to pick through their pile. However, again, being a good neighbor I always restack the pallets even if they aren't stacked when I get there.
• Some pallets are treated with pesticides so look for the correct markings to let you know which are safe to use
• Instructable creator Minnecrapolis has created an ible to help aid you in your search for the safe pallet.
• Pallets are made of pretty nasty and "useless" wood so you'll have to source more material than you might think you will actually need for this project in order to have enough
Step 3: Materials and Equipment
What you'll need for this particular project:
- Pallet wood, lots of pallet wood. I sourced approximately 8 pallets for this table. I used both the 1" boards and the 2x4" boards.
- 3 x 6' 1/2 inch threaded rods (However, if I were to do this project again, I would use 3/4" rods.
- 6 washers and 6 nuts to fit the 1/2 inch threaded rod
- Wood glue (I ended up going through one large bottle of Elmer's wood glue)
- Sand paper (60 grit, 100 grit, and 200 grit)
- 3 inch wood screws
- Satin Finish Polyurethane - I used Minwax from Lowes
- Variable Speed Drill
- Compound miter saw
- 1/2 inch spade bit (I used a long one (12 inch) that I already had for this one. I would recommend a shorter one however)
- Long tension clamps
- I rented a belt sander with 60 grit and 100 grit belts
- bench vise
- claw hammer
- rubber mallet
- crow bar and circular saw for taking pallets apart
I Wish I Had:
- Electric Planer - I would have liked to have a bit flatter top. The belt sander did a great job of getting rid of the grit, but leveling this completely needed a planer.
- Table Saw - to rip the boards to uniform width. However, the jaggedness at the bottom does add to the appeal.
- Drill Press - I did a good job keeping the holes straight and uniform but a drill press would help a lot more with this.
Step 4: Step 2: Destroy Pallets
I don't have pictures from this step. However, I'll try to explain to you how I went about this. This step is easily the hardest part about working with pallets.
I chose to use two methods to take this wood apart:
1) I used my trusty claw hammer to pound the 1 inch boards away from the 2x4 supports. This method is crude and results in a few broken boards, but I was able to clean up the ends by cutting them off later. If this method didn't work, I decided to...
2) Use my circular saw to cut the boards away from the outer supports and then twisted the boards by hand away from the center support. This resulted in shorter boards, but in some instances was much easier. The only draw back is that sometimes this made it hard to remove the stubborn nails from the support boards.
After each board was liberated from the I used my claw hammer again to tap the nails out from the boards and discarded the rusty nails.
*One note, the nails in pallets are very difficult to remove because they're cheap, twisted, and rusted. In some cases it's easier to just tap them all the way into the boards and leave them there to add "character" to your piece of furniture.*
Step 5: Step 3: Determine Your Table Size and Cut Boards to Length
I went with a 48 inch x 18 inch table top and 26 inch legs.
I then made a crude jig out of scrap 2x4's to help me to cut all of my boards to the same length with my compound miter saw.
When all was said and done, I had cut:
- 55 1x6 inch boards cut to 18 inches
- 8 1x6's cut to appropriate length to fit between the legs (this was not uniform, so you'll have to measure each side)
- 8 2x4 inch boards cut to 26 inches (I was careful to cut the notches at the same place so they would line up when placed side by side)
Step 6: Step 4: Drill Holes in 1x6's and Legs
I created a jig using a representative board from my stack. I had several 2x6 boards instead of 1x6's and decided to use the nicest one to use as my jig. I then measured and marked spots for holes to be drilled. There was one hole in the very center and two that would be centered on the ends where the legs would align.
I then used this representative board on the top of my jig which could accommodate one or two boards at a time to drill three holes in the boards. Because my jig was not perfect, I had to be careful to remember the alignment of the three holes.
I used a hand drill with a 1/2 inch spade bit to drill the holes. The bit that I owned was about 1 foot long. In retrospect it would have been better to have a shorter one.
I also drilled holes in the top of each leg to be threaded onto the rods later.
Step 7: Step 5: Determine Alignment of the Boards
I played around with the order the boards would go in by placing them on one of the threaded rods like beads on a string. I wanted it to appear random, but artistic at the same time. I probably spent too much time over thinking this.
Things I looked out for:
- avoid putting too many of the same color board in a row
- avoid putting too many of the same texture board in a row
- put your best looking boards where they can be seen, not stuck in the middle
- determine which of the boards would be painted and stained
Step 8: BONUS TIP Step 6: Cut Threaded Rod to Length
When cutting the threaded rod, I used a hack saw and my vice. When you do this, it is easy to ruining the threading on your rod so that you can't put the nuts back on. I have an easy fix for that.
1) Mark where you will cut your rod with a sharpie. I cut mine at 46 1/2 inches
2) you should thread 4 nuts onto your rod. 2 will be used to hold the rod in the vice and 2 will be used to act as a miter for the hack saw
3) Put your rod into the vice using the flat sides of two of your nuts to hold the rod
4) The other two nuts will be placed on either side of your cut line. Use your hack saw to cut the rod. Remove the nuts but be careful, they'll be hot.
5) By unscrewing the three nuts remaining on your rod over the cut portion of your threaded rod, it will automatically smooth out any damage done to the threading by the saw.
Step 9: Step 7: Put Your Boards and Legs on the Three Rods
This takes some time and you'll need a rubber mallet, patience, and strength.
- Place one nut and one washer on the end of each rod
- Be sure to remember which side is up on your boards. I marked them ahead of time with a pencil knowing that the pencil would be sanded off. Then carefully thread each board onto all three rods. I used a back and forth tapping motion (right then left) to move the boards down.
- Also, I liberally applied wood glue between each board as they were loaded then used my mallet to tap them tight. You will use the tension from your nuts/rods to act as a clamp.
- When finished place the legs and boards onto the rods and add your washers and nuts. Tighten very tight, but not enough to crack the wood.
Step 10: Step 8: Place Table Upside Town and Wait Over Night
Initially I was worried that that rods weren't supporting the table enough and I would have to start over because there was some serious sway in the table when i was done at this time. Instead, I turned the table over and waited over night for the glue to cure. Sure enough, the dried glue provided enough support for the boards after it had dried.
Step 11: Step 9: Turn Table Over and Commence Sanding
- I spent almost 4 hours sanding with a rented belt sander on the table tops, sides, and legs. I started with 60 grit paper and followed that with 100 grit. I then finished it with my palm sander and sanding block at 220 grit. The result depended by board and species of wood but overall it was silky smooth.
- I also selectively stained and painted a few boards to give the table a bit more character. I used a dark blue paint, white paint, and some dark oak stain. The paint was sanded a bit to help the boards to have an appropriate weathered look
- After sanding, I brushed it down and used a tack cloth to remove saw dust and prepare it to be finished.
Step 12: Step 10: Added Support
You'll notice that on the back across the bottom, between the back two legs, there is an added brace. This is an extra 2x4 support from the pallet pile. I decided to add this because the table top was so heavy, I was afraid it would bow the table without more support between legs. It really squared up the table nicely. I did not add one to the front because I felt that it would take away from the general look that I was going for. I can always add it later.
I also took the time to use three 3" wood screws per leg to attach the bottoms together. The legs had a tendency to splay apart a bit and this drew them together nicely. They were screwed through the inside to hide the hardware.
Step 13: Step 11: Apply Finish
Except for the painted and stained boards, I left the rest natural. I then applied two coats of Satin Polyurethane Finish. I apologize for the poor finished photo lighting, they were taken late in the evening after a day of hard work.
Step 14: Step 12: Cut Off Excess Threaded Rod
Using a hacksaw, I finished off the rods but removing any excess rod. I then sanded off burs from the rod using a file. This isn't totally necessary but it looks nicer and you don't run the risk of getting a pair of pants or knee gouged from the exposed rod.
Step 15: Final Step: Display Proudly and Use
Well, I'm finished and it looks great! I now took the time to settle back on the couch and have a well-deserved adult beverage. I hope that you liked my instructible. Please let me know if you make your own!