Introduction: Standing Pallet Desk - Epoxy Finished

Picture of Standing Pallet Desk - Epoxy Finished

Standing desks are all the rage these days, and justifiably so. When I'm standing at my desk, I feel on top of my work! It's a great feeling, and I get a lot more done! So I just had to make one!

I designed my desk around these three principles

  • Minimized profile
  • Adjustable height
  • Modern looking


In a sense, I wanted the desk to look like it was floating. That's why the legs and frame are steel. You don't have to use a ton of steel for the desk to be strong. I wanted to be able to adjust the height of the desk so if someone else was using it, it could work for them too. Finally, I didn't want this desk to look like every other desk out there, so I went a little crazy with the end grain!

*EDIT: I removed the control panel from my treadmill and turned this desk into a standing treadmill desk :) https://youtu.be/txqNWRGJWB8?t=1m28s

Step 1: Why Read When You Can Watch?

I would recommend watching the video before reading this instructable. It will help give a visual overview of just how hefty this project is!

The second video is a short 3 minute talk about design flaws and motivations.

The third video gives a rundown on how to remove whole pallet boards and pallet nails.

Step 2: What You'll Need

Picture of What You'll Need
  • Somewhere in the neighborhood of 12 pallets
  • 5 @ 1.5"X84" 16 Gauge Square Steel Tube
  • 2 @ 1.75"X23" 16 Gauge Square Steel Tube
  • 2 @ 2"X5" 16 Gauge Square Steel Tube
  • 3 @ 2"x30" 14 Gauge Flat Steel Bar
  • 1 @ 16Oz Wood glue
  • 2 @ 32Oz Super Glaze Resin Epoxy
  • 1 @ Rust-Oleum Clear Coat
  • 18 @ 1/4" 20 thread/inch bolt 1/2" long
  • 2 @ 3/8" 20 thread/inch bolt 2" long
  • 4 @ 2" caster wheels
  • 3 foot clamps. The more the better
  • Table Saw
  • Belt sander
  • Mig Welder
  • 1/4" Tap

Step 3: The Pallets

Picture of The Pallets

Removing nails from the pallets is just silly, it's too time consuming. Instead using a circular (skill saw) cut the slats out. Be really careful not to cut into any nails. Nails can cause the saw to jump violently. This takes some time, so be patient

Now that you have a bunch of slats, take them to the table saw. We will be using the table saw to square off all of the boards and cut off the rotten ends. Set you guard to cut off as little as possible. Then run each board through so each side is square. This takes even more time!

Finally set the guard to the width you want your table to be. In our case, that is 1.5". Run every board through this so you end up with a bunch of 1.5" wide boards of varying lengths. As you cut them down, you want to organize them into similarly thick groups. This will save time later during the gluing.

Step 4: Gluing the Boards Together

Picture of Gluing the Boards Together

This is is the messy part. You will need your clamps, all of your boards and wood glue. You can use any type of wood glue. I used type 2 Tite Bond.

Take your boards of equal widths and lay them down flat, so you have a "floor" of boards. Grab your glue and spread it over all of the boards. You really want to spread the glue over every single board at once. You only need to do one side of the boards but be generous with the glue. Use a brush to spread the glue evenly across the boards.

Starting with those closest to you, stand the boards up on end and press them against each other. You will do this row by row, pressing the glued side of the row to the backside of the row in front of it. As you do this, you want to make sure that the butt joints of two boards in one row don't align with those in an adjacent row. This is important not only for aesthetics but also for rigidity. Basically, the joints should be staggered all the way down the surface. Also take note of how far your boards stick off the end, you can always trim them down, but you don't really want them to stick out more than 12 inches.

Once all of the boards are glued, line the table with 2 long, unglued boards and use them to clamp the glued boards together. I used 2"x2" in the video but I wish I had used steel. It would have made for more even pressure along he boards. You want 1/2 of you clamps to be on one side of the table and the other half on the other side. This is to stop the clamps from bowing the table as it dries because the clamps will be pulling against each other.

Wait 24 hours for the glue to fully cure, and before removing any of the clamps.

Step 5: Planing the Surface

Picture of Planing the Surface

After 24 hours remove the clamps and take your table outside. Grab a hand scraper (or planer) and remove the excess glue. I used the scraper to plane down some particularly warped boards. A hand planer would work wonders here, but I don't have one. So instead I used 36 grit sand paper and sanded for about 2 hours! Yea it was a long process! I also only sanded the one side because I wanted to leave the ruggedness of the underside.

Fill in any and all holes with wood filler. Sand the surface with 80 grit then 120 the 240 grit sand paper to get a really smooth finish. Wipe the surface down with a microfiber cloth to remove all the dust then take the table inside.

Step 6: Apply the Epoxy

First off watch this 70 second video on how to apply epoxy.

One Home Depot box of Super Glaze Epoxy: 32 Ounces will do a coat on your 5 foot by 2.5 foot table. Mix the epoxy and apply it according to the video above.

If you mess up a little bit, don't sweat it, you can always do another coat of epoxy.

Leave the epoxy for 72 hours for it to fully cure. Then you'll want to scrape off the epoxy drips on the underside of the table.

Step 7: Framing the Table in Steal

Picture of Framing the Table in Steal

Cut two pieces of 1.5" 16 Gauge square steel tube to the length of the front and back edge of your table. You want them to line up just right so it looks professional. Clamp them to the wood using your large bar clamps. Now take two more 1.5" 16 Gauge square tube cut to the exact width of the table and clamp them to the front and back steel tubes. I positioned these shorter pieces near the ends of the table, but still completely underneath so when you looked in between the pallet slats, you could still see straight to the floor. Now weld them in place to the front and back steel tubes. Make sure and cover the epoxy finish so you don't mess it up with the sparks.

Take three 2" wide 14 Gauge steel bars cut to the width of the table and lay them on the underside of the table. Space these bars equidistant from each other and the side running steel tubes we just welded. Clamp the bars in place and weld them. These bars are used for extra strength in holding the pallet table up.

Step 8: Grind Down All Joints

Picture of Grind Down All Joints

You don't want any nasty welds cutting your hand, so grind them all down smooth!

Step 9: Making the Legs

Picture of Making the Legs

You will need the following steel pieces for the legs:

  • 2 @ 2" 16 Gauge Steel Tube: 5" long
  • 2 @ 1.75" 16 Gauge Steel Tube: 23" long
  • 2 @ 1.5" 16 Gauge Steel Tube: 23" long
  • 2 @ 1.5" 16 Gauge Steel Tube: 25" long
  • 4 @ 1.5" 16 Gauge Steel Tube: 10" long

Construct two "L" shapes with one 1.5" X 23" tube and one 1.5" X 25" tube. You want the 23" tube to rest against the side of the 25" tube. Weld the two L pieces.

Flip the pallet table on it's epoxied side and grab the 2" X 5" tubes. Where the back steel bar and the under bar meet, place the 2" X 5" tubes. These will be where the legs nest into the pallet table. Make sure these pieces are perpendicular to the table, then tilt them a little bit out so they still out the back of the table just slightly. Weld them in place.

Step 10: Modifying the Legs

Picture of Modifying the Legs

Now we need to drill holes in the 1.5" X 23" part of our "L" shaped legs. These holes will be used for our bolt to hold to the table at a certain height. Start 5" down from the top of the tube (top of the "L") and drill a 6-9 holes 1" apart. The number of holes depends on how much adjustment room you want. if you allow the legs to completely telescope into a closed position, the table will be 29 inches tall. Thus if your top hole is 5" from the top of the "L", then you will have a range of: 29" - 47".

For the bolt, I used a 3/8" bolt because it looked beefy! Anything smaller and it will throw off the look of your table.

Lastly, I decided that I didn't like the simple "U" shape of the table so I cut and added steel squares on the legs. I didn't want this to mess with the telescoping legs so I only welded the bottom of the square to the leg and bolts the top part. That way, if I wanted to drop the table al the way down, all I had to do was take out the bolt.

Step 11: Finishing Touches

Picture of Finishing Touches

Since this table is so heavy, I added 4 locking caster wheels on the legs. I did this by drilling 13/64" holes and then tapping the holes with a 1/4" tap.

I rubbed all of the steel down with acetone then used Rust-Oleum's clear coat sealer for steal.

Step 12: Stand and Work

Picture of Stand and Work

Now you are all done and you can stand and work! I totally want to raise this thing up and put my treadmill underneath it!

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Comments

Trippme (author)2016-05-19

Very cool instructable, thinking about doing this but going 1 step further and making the table/desk to be able to be raised and lowered.

PatrickW51 (author)Trippme2016-05-19

Im thinking about more clever ways to do that too. I'm thinking that a really big threaded rod in the backwith a crank or something, not sure yet though. How are you thinking of making the raising/lowering mechanism?

Trippme (author)PatrickW512016-05-19

I was thinking the same thing a jack screw (I had a table I bought from Boeing Surplus that worked like that). The thing I'm wrestling with is how to keep if from getting wracked in the raise/lower scenario. Some kind of rails would be needed.

The one thing I didn't like about the old table I had was carriage required to do it took up a lot of space so I would want a motor and jack screw to be in the leg(s)...do I need 2 stepper motors (1 per side) or can it be done with 1.

PatrickW51 (author)Trippme2016-05-19

The easiest solution for the acre jack is a single central pillar that connects the desk surface with the legs. It would require a relatively large threaded rod, maybe in the neighborhood of 1"-1.5" diameter.
Using a motor to raise and lower it would require a decent sized motor I should think. Something capable of lifting 50-100 pounds. I guess you could devise a gear system, but that's complex.
The two motor two leg setup could be raised and lowered using a pulled system embedded in the legs and frame with steel cable running through one leg, across the backside of the desks and into the other leg. Only thing about that design is safety, now you need some kind of locking pin to stop the desk from collapsing if the cable breaks or a pulley snaps.

Anyways that's just what my train of thought on the problem has been

Trippme (author)PatrickW512016-05-19

Yah, I don't like the single in the center idea and the mechanics of using gearing to only have a single motor has similar draw backs. Would you need that strong a motor? Seems that spinning the rod around would not need that much strength but I haven't thought through the torque needed.

dave.cody.148 (author)Trippme2016-07-26

I'm no expert, but I've done some of thinking about this problem as I too am planning an electrically adjustable sit-stand desk.

If you run the motor 'horizontally' to turn a rod that runs laterally to each leg, to a 45 degree 'corner gear', aka bevel gear, that in turn turns a jack screw or a rack gear attached to each leg, you should be able to get away with both a single electric motor, and raise and lower both legs simultaneously at the same rate, thus keeping the desktop level. With appropriate gearing choice, in theory it would be possible to use a tiny motor to lift a heavy desktop, albeit slowly.

Here are some links to a supplier of gears that could work although this is to provide the concept, not a working set of gears with matched teeth, or indeed enough power to lift a desktop:

http://www.globalspec.com/specsearch/partspecs?par...

http://www.globalspec.com/specsearch/partspecs?par...

Of course the risk with a rack gear as the lifting mechanism is that the entire weight of the desktop would then be borne be the gear teeth. Whilst driving, this should be a problem, but whilst stationary over time, it is probably advisable to also use a failsafe pin or bolt to take the weight or act as a back up in the event that the gear or its supports failed.

When i get around to building mine, I'll let you know if it works.

Meanwhile, awesome post, and thanks for the inspiration. . .

uncle frogy (author)2016-05-19

am I correct after you squared the ends and cut all the boards to width you then glued them together. you did not plane all the boards to the same thickness to insure a good smooth surface for the glue joint. and you used Tite bond II because of its ability to fill gaps caused by the rough surface of the pallet wood.

uncle frogy

PatrickW51 (author)uncle frogy2016-05-19

Yes, I didnt have a planer and I wasn't experienced in dealing with gluing the boards together OR wood glue. I wasnt aware that type II fils gaps :X I'm doing another pallet project, a pallet staircase actually, exact same principle as the desk, would you recomend type II or type III? Btw for this project I will have a planer

cvachter (author)PatrickW512016-05-20

You did Really well . With this , Patrick !

namora (author)2016-05-19

Nice job but I do have one caveat about epoxy and that is that sunlight will break it down much faster than varnish and is toxic as well having a cumulative effect on the craftsman. Never use epoxy thinner to remove it from your skin because this enhances the exposure by multiples of a hundred and your skin will suck it up. Just let it harden and your natural oils will cause it to flake off. Most of the resins available are in this category.better yet use gloves.

PatrickW51 (author)namora2016-05-19

That is actually REALLY nice to know. I was having such a rough tme trying to get it off of my skin. I learned to put on gloves really quickly.

Do you know what kind of resin should be used for floor boards? Some kind of clear epoxy resin?

jldixon (author)PatrickW512016-05-19

We did an outside tiki bar from pallets and rough cut cedar. To seal the top cedar bar piece we used marine grade epoxy. It dries really FAST. When it says you have 13 mins to spread it, count on 11.5. To smooth out any bumps or bubbles use a heat gun but again be very careful not to over heat because its flammable. This is something you should consider for floors to protect against spills & animal/children accidents. There is also a high grade wood/floor epoxy sold at home improvement stores that's comparable. On our stair case I used gel stain which had a sealer also then applied polyurethane. Its held up prett well so far.

John Morrissey (author)2016-05-19

Interesting approach to building a standing table. Good use of pallet material.

Thank you!

guy.lamoureux.7 (author)2016-05-19

"Why Read When You Can Watch?"

Reading diagonally is much faster. I can do it in 2 minutes instead of looking a 9 minutes video. I learned faster that it's a stand-up desk that we can't change the height easily.

Very interesting idea anyway. I could fabricate a table or a bench with this technique.

Iguess we learn differently, I would rather watch a video, but I'm also a video guy :) fair point on the diagonal read, I think fundamentally I agree wit you

KagedCreations (author)2016-05-19

Great looking desk!

mike_skinner (author)2016-04-21

A garden table - those raggedy ends are ace!

PatrickW51 (author)mike_skinner2016-04-21

Oooh Actually that would look really nice in a garden!!

mike_skinner (author)2016-04-20

Love it! I'll make one for the garden. Thanks for sharing!

PatrickW51 (author)mike_skinner2016-04-21

A table or bench for the garden?

ClenseYourPallet (author)2016-04-20

Great looking desk!

Thank you!!

Hectic Brad (author)2016-04-21

Awesome , a very nice product with a great video to match

PatrickW51 (author)Hectic Brad2016-04-21

Thank you! I appreciate it :)

marmstrong22 (author)2016-04-19

Very cool desk. have you considered putting a shelf across the bottom two "squares" you added to the legs? Or two shelves sticking out fro. each square ( just to the outside maybe 8-10") supported with a steel bar welded from the foot or square?

PatrickW51 (author)marmstrong222016-04-19

Thank you! I had not considered that! I just started using it today, and I've been thinking about possible mods. For one, I think I want a foot rest bar along the bottom. A little bit of storage might be nice as long as it wouldn't get messy. I definitely need to add a power strip to the underside.

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Bio: My sister and I like to make things! And even more than making things, we like to share our creations! We want to create beautiful ... More »
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