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