When two of my favorite goals can be accomplished in the same project, I call that a success. First, I love completing an entire project while keeping the budget all the way down to zero. Second, when I can save something that has been discarded and give it a second chance in life. So, when this little metal pedestal for a table showed up, I just had to make a table top for it. What better building materials to use for such a project than pallet wood? Other than the glue used and the shellac I finished it with, the cost was zero. Seeing as how I had those things already on hand, I consider this a zero cost project that turned out looking pretty nice.
Step 1: Dismantle Two Pallets
For some folks out there, perhaps this is a really simple part of the process. For me, however, this takes a bit of doing. It's not impossible, by any means, but it certainly does take a bit of work. My technique is to cut the boards on each side, right along the beams that hold all the boards together. Then all that's holding the boards down is just the nails on the center beam, which you can somewhat easily persuade out of there. Not rocket science, just a little elbow grease. And if you try this for your first time, don't give up. It's a little tricky at first, but it gets easier with each board that you remove.
Step 2: Prepare Pallet Boards
I begin the process by running each board through the table saw, just removing a tiny bit of material. Then, with a straight edge on one side of all your boards, you can run them all back through the table saw on the other side to make all the boards the same width.
I then use a miter saw set to 45 degrees to cut one end off all the boards. This gives you enough of a start to lay out all of your boards in the design you want and mark where to cut them. With your miter saw still set to 45, you can cut your boards again and use your off cuts as the next layer of your design. This type of design is called "herringbone" or "chevron." Call it whatever you want, I call it pretty cool looking.
You'll need a piece of plywood to attach all of your boards to. I happened to have a piece of half inch plywood that worked wonderfully. I used a jig saw to cut out a rough circle and attached all of my boards using wood glue. Make sure and do your best to spread out the wood glue and make sure to get a good bit of pressure to hold it all down while the glue sets.
Step 3: Cut the Table Circle
You can watch my video to see how I attempted to cut a perfect circle. However, I will be painfully honest and tell you that I failed to cut a perfect circle, by a long shot. I tried to rig up a sorry excuse for a circle cutting jig to run the entire table top through my little bandsaw, but it slipped on me right at the end and left a little part of the circle a straight side.
So I just decided to go with it, rather than try cutting a circle again. I got out a circular saw and a yard stick and cut the straight side to make it actually straight. Then I cut the opposite side straight as well, and if you didn't know better, you'd think this was done intentionally as a style choice. Woo!
Step 4: Sanding, Sanding, and More Sanding
I began sanding the entire table down with a belt sander, which took forever. Then I switched to random orbit sander and went through the grits, getting it as smooth as I could.
After it looked pretty decent, I used an extra piece and put it through the table saw to cut a really thin piece to glue to the outside of the table where the boards meet the plywood. This gives it all a much cleaner look. I attached a thicker piece to the two straight sides, then sanded it all to make it flow nicely.
Next I filled in any gaps with a bit of wood filler, then came back the next day and did a final sanding.
For finish, I went with a shellac, because it's really easy to apply and really hard to mess up. I sanded lightly between coats and liked the way it looked after three coats.
Then all you have to do is just screw the table top to the pedestal and you'll be eating lunch on your styling new table in no time.