Introduction: Reclaimed Wood Desk

Picture of Reclaimed Wood Desk

Here is a list of what I used to construct this custom reclaimed wood desk.

The desk I built was 8 ft. by 2.5 ft so the materials listed are what I needed for that size. This same concept can apply to whatever size desk or table you would like to build, you will just have to adjust the amounts needed. Also many of the parts and supplies I used could be substituted with other things, this is just a list of what I personally used on this project.

1. Pallets (Amount varies depending on the size of desk you want to build, I used about 7 pallets for this one)

2. One 8 ft x 4 ft sheet of 1/2 inch plywood. Cut down to 8 ft x 2.5 ft.

3. 2 inch x 2inch boards to frame desk top. You will need roughly 22 ft of this

4. Wood glue to glue pallet boards down

5. Nails to hold the wood in place while the glue dries

6. Kreg pocket hole jig to make pocket holes to attach frame around desktop

7. 1-1/4 inch screws to attach frame to desktop (I used Kreg pocket-hole screws)

8. Kreg paint grade pocket hole plugs (optional)

9. 2 - 1/2 inch wood screws

10. 3/4 inch wood screws

11. Epox-it 80 resin (This project took about 6 gallons, but that will vary depending on your desk frame height and wood thickness)

12. Plastic drop cloths

13. Mixing bucket

14. Paint stirring sticks

15. Painters tape

16. 2 inch square steel tubing (roughly 30 ft)

17. 2 inch steel flat bar (roughly 4 ft)

18. 1 inch steel round bar (roughly 16 ft)

19. Clear coat spray paint

Step 1: Gather and Dismantle Pallets

Picture of Gather and Dismantle Pallets

Gather some old pallets. You can usually find pallets for free or very cheap at large retail stores, warehouses, lumberyards, etc. I tried to find pallets that varied quite a bit in color and texture. I also looked for ones that were more beat up and dirty, I wanted the wood with the most character.

Once you have your pallets, start dismantling them. Take a pry bar and pry the boards apart. Once you have them off you want to check them over really well and remove any nails or staples as they can damage your tools when cutting and processing the boards.

Step 2: Rip Pallet Boards Down to Smaller Pieces

Picture of Rip Pallet Boards Down to Smaller Pieces

Once you have your pallets all disassembled and all the nails removed you need to cut the boards into pieces that are the same width. I chose to do mine 1 1/2 inches wide but the size just depends on your preference. The length doesn't matter right now because we will be measuring and cutting them lengthwise once we start attaching the boards to the desktop. I ripped the boards on a table saw to make sure the cuts were straight and even.

Step 3: Attach Pallet Pieces to Plywood Base

Picture of Attach Pallet Pieces to Plywood Base

Once you have all your pallet pieces cut to the right size, you will need to start attaching them to the plywood base.

When choosing the pieces, I tried to alternate the colors to give it that random, mixed look. I also tried to make sure that every piece was a different length and no two piece ends lined up in the same spot.

Find the first piece you want to use, choose how long you want it and cut it. Then you want to generously coat the back side in wood glue, place it where you want it and clamp it down. I started in one corner and worked across the desk in rows, going lengthwise. Once you have the piece glued and clamped down, you will want to nail it down to keep it in place while the glue dries. I used a nail gun and some small finishing nails since they wouldn't be as noticeable.

Step 4: Build and Attach Frame Around Desktop

Picture of Build and Attach Frame Around Desktop

Once you have all your pallet pieces attached and the desktop covered, you will want to build a frame around it that is going to sit up just a little bit higher than the pallet wood so that it can be filled with the resin to give the desk a smooth, glassy, surface.

Take the 2 inch by 2 inch frame boards and cut them to the necessary length. My desk was 8 ft by 2.5 ft so the frame needed to be 8'4" x 2'10" since the frame needs to go 2 inches past the end of the desk on all sides.

After all the boards are cut to the right length, you need to cut the ends at a 45 degree angle to make the corner joints.

To attach the frame boards, I used the Kreg pocket hole jig to drill pocket holes along the edge of the plywood, then I used the Kreg 1-1/4 inch screws to screw the boards in place. You want to keep the frame board flush with the BOTTOM SIDE of the plywood, where you are drilling your pocket holes, so that the frame will sit higher than the pallet wood and allow you to fill it with resin.

I countersunk two holes in each corner joint and then screwed them together to reinforce the joint, then I used wood filler to fill the holes in so you can't see the screws. Once the wood filler dries, sand it down smooth.

Once you have the pocket holes drilled and the frame screwed on, I plugged the pocket holes with Kreg pocket hole plugs and then sanded them down smooth.

Step 5: Building a Base

Picture of Building a Base

After the desktop is assembled, you need to build some sort of legs for the desk. There are tons of different ways you could build the legs for the desk, and many materials that could be used, but I chose to build a one piece base out of steel tubing.

First you need to measure and cut all your metal. I decided that I wanted the base to be 6 ft wide, 2 ft deep and 30 inches tall.

The ends of the are going to be two "U" shape pieces so I cut four 30" pieces, and two 2 ft pieces, then cut them at a 45 degree angle and welded them together. I also cut some 2 ft pieces of 2 in flat bar to go across the top of the "U" shape.

Then I connected the two "U" shaped pieces by welding in the 6 ft pieces of 2 in square tubing across the top between them.

I reinforced the frame by adding 1 in round steel tubing across the "U" shapes and across the width of the back side. (It also gives you a nice bar to rest your feet on!)

The base could be painted, or coated however you like, but I wanted a more raw look so I used a grinder and sanding disc to buff down the base to raw metal, then sealed it with a clear coating to prevent rust or corrosion.

Step 6: Attach the Base to the Desktop

Picture of Attach the Base to the Desktop

Next you need to attach the legs or base to the desktop.

To attach the base, first you need to drill holes for the screws. I drilled holes in the 2 inch square tubing and flat bar and countersunk the bottom hole, so that the desktop can be screwed on from underneath and the screws will sit flush in the metal without snagging on anything.

I flipped the desktop upside down and laid it on the floor. Then I laid the base upside down on top of the desktop. I measured all four sides from the edge of the desktop to make sure the base is perfectly centered.

Once the base is centered on the desktop, you want to screw it on using the appropriate wood screws. You want the screws to go in far enough to hold it, but avoid using screws that are too long as they will show through the desktop.

Step 7: Pour the Resin

Picture of Pour the Resin

Once you have the desktop and base all assembled, it is time to pour the resin.

Before you actually pour the resin, you want to prep your work area and the desk. Start by putting down the plastic drop cloth under the desk since the resin will drip and make a mess. Then you need to make sure any seams or cracks in the desktop are sealed. Use the painters tape to cover any cracks, seams or large holes on the bottom of the plywood, where the resin could seep through.

Make you follow the directions for the resin very closely. You want to pour the resin in a well lit, well ventilated, warm area. It is also very important to make sure the desktop is perfectly level before you pour the resin.

Mix and pour the resin according to the manufacturers instructions. You will want to pour a light base coat of the resin to seal the wood and fill in any cracks, holes, or imperfections. I used Epox-it 80 resin from Specialty Resins and they recommend pouring it no more than 1/4" thick at a time, allowing 6 hours to cure in between coats.

Mix the resin very carefully and slowly to prevent excess bubbles in the resin, but if you do have some bubbles in the resin, you can go over them very lightly with a torch to help get them out.

Once your base coat is cured you can remove the tape from the bottom of the desk. Once the desktop is full of resin, you want to let the final layer run over the top and down the edges to seal the frame and make the desk one seamless surface. After the final layer is cured, you just have to sand any drip marks of resin off of the bottom of the desk.

Step 8: Enjoy!

Picture of Enjoy!

Enjoy a beautifully, handcrafted piece of furniture made with reclaimed materials!


simonad (author)2015-03-24

I am a resin artist, and I am totally blown away by your resin finish. Not one speck of dust, or a stray bug??? That's insanely impressive, hats off you!

Jordan Porritt (author)simonad2015-03-24

Thank you! I just moved into a new house and this was done in an empty room, I just made sure to vacuum before hand and clean up. I think there is probably a dog hair or two in there but other than that it came out pretty clean! (author)2015-03-24

This is gorgeous. Great job!

Thank you!

EvolvedAwesome (author)2015-03-24

I've seen a few of these, but I must say... this one looks beautiful! You have really done a great Job with this!

Thank you, I appreciate it!

manuelmasc (author)2015-03-24

awesome result! well done man!

Thank you!

NathanSellers (author)2015-03-23

I like the multi colored woods. You arranged them nicely. What a fun office desk.

Thank you for the kind words!

alesha.gurney (author)2015-03-23

It turned out awesome Jordan!

Thanks Alesha!

ClenseYourPallet (author)2015-03-23

Wow!! That turned out beautiful. I love the top coat, it really makes the piece

Thank you so much! I am really happy with how it turned out!

xxlauraxx (author)2015-03-23

Lovely! I also thought it had glass on top, at first glance. The resin is a great way to keep the rough and interesting patterns and textures visible, without having to sand them down. Will the resin stay shiny like that?

Who gets to use this amazing desk — what kind of work will be done on it?

Thanks for sharing.

Jordan Porritt (author)xxlauraxx2015-03-23

The resin should stay shiny, but if it does get scratched or damaged it can be sanded and polished back to this same finish fairly easily. I built the desk for my own home office, it will be used for my graphic design and other creative work!

Superbender (author)2015-03-22

Beautiful desk. Great work.

Thank you!

livichris (author)2015-03-23

In the first photo I assumed your desk was topped with a piece of glass. that resin finish is beautiful.

Jordan Porritt (author)livichris2015-03-23

Thank you! The resin gives it a lot of depth and makes a nice working surface, I'm really happy with it.

ahmyers99 made it! (author)2017-07-10

Loved the look of this so much that I was inspired to try my first major woodworking project. Ended up doing the main desk plus a smaller side desk, and built a wood base with drawers/file cabinet and a ventilated compartment for my computer equipment. I also ended up using some wood stains to add a little more color to the slats and to the rim of the desk. Thanks for the great idea and instructions.

Also was my first time using epoxy resin. Managing the bubbles is quite an adventure.

Jordan Porritt (author)ahmyers992017-07-11

Looks great! It turned out really nice. Good work!

DeniceH2 (author)2016-08-02

I too use the epoxy from Specialty Resin for my bar top. It turned out absolutely beautiful. Has the look of glass.

Jordan Porritt (author)DeniceH22016-10-07

Thank you!

many_methods (author)2016-10-06

This is an awesome table! I just wondered how it was holding up over a year on? The reason I ask is that I tried a similar technique but as the wood expands/contracts naturally, the resin has started to delaminate from the wood.

Thank you! I will have to get some new pictures of it for you when I get a chance, but the table is holding up perfectly. So far there has been no discoloration and the resin has not started to delaminate or crack or anything. Other than a few small scratches in the surface it looks as good as new. I think the weight might be helping though, this desk is very very heavy and the layer of resin on top of the wood is pretty heavy so I think it keeps everything pretty straight.

b.steadman made it! (author)2016-01-17

Just finished my version of the desk. The uprights and desk frame are from shipping crates 2 x 4, cut down and sanded to 36mm x 36mm. I've opted for 5mm plexiglass for both the main desk and monitor stand, as my resin pouring skills are non-exsistant.

Shelves underneath the desk are edge glued strips left over from cutting the 2 x 4s.

Like Jordans original idea, the pallete strips are at various heights.

The desk is made of fully recycled materials, less the Plexiglass and screws. Total cost of the build was less than €80.

The downside of building the desk is that my wife now wants one too :-)


Wow, it turned out awesome! Excellent work! I like the extra monitor stand, and the plexiglass looks really nice too!

DanW10 (author)2015-06-26

Looks Awesome. Great Job!!

Jordan Porritt (author)DanW102015-09-05

Thank you!

SazzyQ28 (author)2015-04-10

Absolutely stunning !! I have just joined the site, just so I can comment, shame you are not in the UK, I would have paid for you to make me one :) well done

Jordan Porritt (author)SazzyQ282015-04-10

Thank you! I appreciate it! I'm sure that could be arranged, although shipping something like this internationally would be insanely expensive! Thanks for looking!

FlorianBecker (author)2015-04-05

Hey, great job! I've been looking for weeks for good ideas for a custom desk in my new home office. This is the one that is giving me inspiration and i think I can actually build it with my really limited woodworking experience. One thing I am thinking about is to make the desk a little thicker by leaving more space for the epoxy. I would take old computer parts and electronics and actually embed them in the epoxy. I think that would look really cool. I will also research the electrical properties of the resin. It might (and that's a big stretch) be possible to embed a little computer board like a raspberry Pi and have it working and connected. Who knows - I'll keep you posted. This will still take me a few weeks to get started.At about $100 per gallon, the cost of the epoxy could be a major factor, though!

I'm glad you liked it! That would look really cool to embed different parts in the resin! But yeah, be careful not to make it too thick, it gets expensive, fast. The resin is only about $50 a gallon if you buy it from the manufacturer though. Good luck, I'd love to see some pictures when you get it done!

kozols (author)2015-03-31

Wonderfull :)

Jordan Porritt (author)kozols2015-03-31

Thank you!

MikB (author)2015-03-28

As simonad said -- that is an impressive finish. It looks like you missed the "large sheet of glass" off your parts list! Damn that's shiny.

Liked the ..."you can go over them very lightly with a torch to help get [bubbles] out."

For the benefit of people who don't know this trick, would that be an old-school incandescent bulb type, or an LED torch? Or a flaming stick wrapped in oil soaked rags :) ... oh a *butane torch* you say?

Jordan Porritt (author)MikB2015-03-29

Thank you!

I'm sure if someone wanted to use a flaming stick wrapped in oil soaked rags that would work too, just need something hot to warm the surface up a little bit! But yes, a butane torch was my torch of choice. Thanks for looking!

TrollFaceTheMan (author)2015-03-27

Might have to give this one a shot in the future. Nice job!

You should! Thank you!

adyominov (author)2015-03-26

It looks like a mirror! Awesome results, thanks for this article!

Jordan Porritt (author)adyominov2015-03-26

Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!

munif.almunif (author)2015-03-24

Looks amazing.. But how did you level the surface?

Thank you :)

Thank you! I made sure the desk was sitting perfectly level when I poured the resin, and the resin is self leveling, as it cures it will spread and level itself out.

Sorry before applying the resin, I meant leveling the pallets wood as they might have different thicknesses so when stacked together they could have different heights and the surface of the table will not be in one level. Did you uses a blade planer, a thicknesser machine, or other stuff?

Ah I see what you are saying, sorry, I actually did not level the pallet boards, I left them different thicknesses and used the resin to create a level surface above them. I think the different thicknesses gives the desk more depth and more of a 3D look, which I really liked. Although it does take more resin when you do it that way because you have to fill in all the gaps above the low pieces.

Genius. Thanks so much

No problem, thanks for looking!

bquerk (author)2015-03-26

Looks Pretty with Resin. Have done mine with Glas.

Jordan Porritt (author)bquerk2015-03-26

The glass looks good too! Nice work.

About This Instructable




Bio: I am a 25 year old graphic designer from Northern Utah. I enjoy making things that make me happy, whether it is digital, on paper ... More »
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