Introduction: 30 Minute Pallet Coffee Table
This is a very simple project that you could build in a weekend with minimal tools and skills right in your living room.
I believe this is the easiest coffee table you can make out of pallets.
Skip right to the end if you prefer Video format.
For this project you will need:
- 2 pallets of same dimensions
- 4 metal casters
- Wood lacquer/varnish
- Some long and short screws
- Drill and couple of drill bits
Step 1: Where to Get Your Pallets and How to Choose Them
If you live in a city, you might be puzzled how to get couple of pallets - they are seen dropped on the streets but only when you don't need them. Every time I need a pallet, suddenly its difficult to find one.
Good source for couple of clean pallets is supermarkets - go to their basement where the cars are parked. I've seen pallets being dropped there on several occasions.
When choosing your pallets I suggest to go for the cleaner ones. They will have less chemicals and harmful substances on them. Also stained ones are no good - they've been treated against pests and rot and might be dangerous.
Take care to chose a pallet that has natural wood square lugs. Lugs made from sawdust (like on the photo) are ugly and are not environment friendly.
Step 2: Wash the Pallets
First thing you need to do once you got your pallets is to place them in a bathtub and wash them with a brush using some detergent. Even though the pallets might look clean, washing is required because you never know where the pallet has been before and what it carried.
Step 3: Partial Disassembly
On one of the pallets you will need to remove the bottom planks like shown on the picture. I used toolset from the picture to extract the nails (as you can see, only basic tools). It took some time but I made it. It is much easier if you have two of these hammers - you lay one against the nail and use the other one to drive the hammer under the nail. In such case damage is minimal.
This pallet that you partially disassembled is going to be the top one.
Step 4: Cut the Planks
The spare boards that you detached from one of the pallets can be used to cut the narrow planks to fill in the spaces between the boards of the top pallet. If you keep the spaces, the table top won't be comfortable to use.
I used a hand saw for this process but if you have a band saw or circular saw - it will be faster.
The planks can be attached to the pallet using some screws. Any screws will do as long as they are the right length.
Step 5: Prepare the Wheels
Few words about the wheels (casters)...
If you are making a true loft-style furniture item, spend the time to find all-metal casters. Yes, they are difficult to find but it is definitely worth it. If the casters have rubber or plastic wheels the whole item will lose a lot in terms of good look. And don't worry, metal casters don't scratch the wooden flooring (especially aluminium wheels without sharp edges).
Ok, so once you found good metal casters, you need to make them look old (unless you bought old used ones from eBay). The old scrappy look is created by applying patina (could be substituted by black paint, I used Borma Antik Patina product) and then sanding after the patina/paint is dry. The rising surfaces will shine and crevasses/deep spots/corners will keep the patina.
Similar wheels can be found here: https://www.etsy.com/listing/740604939/industrial-caster-set-of-4-industrial
Step 6: Stick the Two Pallets Together
While the wheels are drying, stick two pallets together. The pallet with detached base boards goes to the top. Apply enough PVA glue on the contact surfaces as well as long wood screws (see photo - they are very long).
Step 7: Attach the Wheels
It's time to attach the wheels. You will need some strong screws with hex heads (see photo).
Important: mark and pre-drill the holes for these screws otherwise the wood will split. To choose the right drill bit you measure the inner diameter of the screw (it will be your drill bit diameter).
After the holes are prepared, use a wrench or cordless power driver to drive in the screws.
Step 8: Finishing
After everything is assembled, you can apply the finish. It could be first the stain or patina followed by varnish/lacquer after. In my case I applied acrylic lacquer because it is ecologically friendly, is not harmful and does not smell.
Also I attached our workshop label as usual.
Step 9: Video How-to
Here's a short 3 minute how-to video of this build (turn on English subtitles).
Participated in the
Furniture Contest 2018
4 years ago
Great idea. i told my wife about it and she wanted me to make one. i said we already have a coffee table. "We can give it to our son. Go to the supermarket or to Home Depot and get the pallets."... I should not have told her about it.
4 years ago on Step 9
Mám rád paletové dřevo. Taky se mi líbí, co jsi udělal s tou tabulkou. Budu používat vaši představu o snaze supermarket pro palety.
4 years ago
Nicely done, and your metal casters look great!
Reply 4 years ago