There are plenty of old shipping pallets floating around, which frequently become reappropriated in the form of tables and chairs. The wood used in shipping pallets is of low quality, but by cutting it up and laminating it back together, strength and new aesthetic can be achieved.
- Used pallet
- Wood glue
- mdf or plywood or similar panel wood, for making jigs and steam box
- cooking pot
- stove or portable stove
- crow bar
- rubber mallet
- plastic sheeting
- table saw
- jig saw
- Sand paper
- hand planer
- scrap wood chunks (variety of 1x1, 2x2, 2x4)
- 3 spring clamps
- 3 Meter long clamps
- 6 20mm clamps
- occasional extra set of hands
Step by step instruction, Pictures follow order:
1) Deconstruct a used pallet, use a crowbar and rubber mallet. Carefully pry off the boards, be patient and work around the nails, the boards will split easily if forced to hard. Remove the nails form the boards with a standard hammer.
2) Use a table saw to cut the boards into 10mm thick strips. Be aware that some pallets have boards of varying thickness, you will have to organize and separate the strips into matching thicknesses and in terms of quality. You will need three sets of 5 long strips (approx. 80cm) to make the legs, and 30 shorter pieces to make the seat. The length of the long strips will depend on how long you decide the legs need to be in the end, just make sure to leave them longer so you can cut them to size after they are formed. My seat was 30cmx30cm, so the short pieces need to be at least 30cm.
3) The seat is made by clamping strips together to make a board, which will then be cut into a circle. Setup a simple jig in order to clamp all the strips together while glueing. You will need to loosely clamp two pieces of flat wood across the wood strips to keep them in plane with each other. Make sure to use plastic in between the tools and clamping wood.
4) Lay down glue and spread with a brush.
5) Stack up the strips and clamp them together. Make sure to use the rubber mallet to flatten out the strips as you squeeze them together, this will save a lot of effort in a later step.
6) The legs on this stool are steam bent. In order to make these legs, we have to build a steam box, and a Jig for bending the wood strips into shape. The jig can be built by cutting out your desired shape with a jigsaw, and using a few large clamps. You will need a lot of smaller clamps to secure the moving parts of the jig so that they can only move parallel to the table, you don't want them popping out of place when you are squeezing the wood strips.
7) Build a steam box following this intractable https://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-make-a-steambox-for-bending-wood/
8) Put the wood strips into the steam box, and give them at least an hour.
9) Once the bending jig is setup, take out five strips of wood and bend them. Work quickly, the longer it takes, the harder it becomes to bend the wood. It is much easier with a little help, especially if your jig isn't rock solid. Also be very careful with the jig. Make sure the form pieces cannot move out of their plane, with all the tension are you putting on the wood, the clamps can pop off with a lot of force.
10) Let each set of strips rest in the jig for half an hour.
11) While waiting, the seat can be continued. Start by planing the board that was glued together in step 5. Once satisfied with the finish, stencil out the circle and cut it out with a jigsaw. Use a hand planer in combination with sand paper.
12) The bending jig will be used for glueing the legs together. Make sure that the wood is completely dry. Put some plastic in between the wood strip and the jig to make sure you can get the leg out.
13) Plane the legs as well, and cut them approximately to size.
14) The next steps are the trickiest. Rectangular holes must be made at an angle at which like the legs need to be, this depends on the length of legs, the legs on my stool were 15 degree from vertical. This can be done by stenciling out the holes, rigging the seat up to be at an angle, and drilling vertical pilot holes. These pilot holes will allow you to get a jig saw in, and cut out a square hole. Use a file to clean up the hole
15) Last the supporting block that acts as the second supporting feature for the legs is made. Figure out the diameter needed and then cut an angled face on three sides. The angle will be the same as the legs.
16) Once everything is made, it can be dry fit together. Spring clamps are very useful for position the lower support block. I used nails from the pallet to help increase strength, and drilled pilot holes for them when it was dry fit together. The nails also help hold the stool together at it dries. Once everything seems to fit together nicely, apply glue, add the nails and clamp it all together.
17) The final step is the string, which is the final support needed to make the chair strong. Measure out and drill holes for the string, approximately 20 on each leg.
18) The last step is feeding the string through the holes in a helical fashion, and then pulling it tight at the end to put some tension on the legs.