Introduction: Build a Pallet Patio Seat

Hey everyone! My partner and I were in desperate need of new outdoor furniture, but I didn't want to spend thousands of dollars on a new patio set so I came up with this design made from pallets! I think this is a good balance of practicality and functionality - it's easy to build, looks good and makes good use of pallets that are readily available for cheap or free.

I also made a really detailed instructional video (which I've posted here!) that shows each step in high definition and provides some additional tips and tricks. Here is a direct link to the video:

Step 1: Tools and Materials

The first step is to gather together the tools and materials you’re going to need for this project.

  • The essential things are:
  • A handsaw
  • A metal brush
  • A hammer
  • A sharpie
  • A tape measure
  • some 80-grit sand paper
  • some 1 inch and 2 inch construction screws
  • A variety of ties of home depot, I used 4 2”x4” fence brackets and some flat strong ties.

Some personal protective equipment you’ll need is:

  • A dust mask
  • Hearing protections
  • Glasses
  • Gloves

OPTIONAL: Having some power tools on hand will save you a lot of time but not essential. Palm sander, power drill, and reciprocating saw to cut through nails if you hit any when you're cutting with the hand saw.

You’ll also need a clean working environment, and some saw horses or a surface to work on are always a good idea too.

Step 2: Finding a Pallet

Check out craigslist or kijiji for pallets, or just drive around some back alleys or go to stores that frequently have deliveries and ask if they have any to scrap. I was using 48*48 inch pallets, as they fit my cushions well, but you can improvise depending on what you find.

Make sure the pallets are heat treated, not painted, and don't look like they have big splotches of chemicals on them.

You'll need a total of 2 good pallets for each bench you want to build, or more if you want to make a higher seat than I made.

Step 3: Cut a Pallet in Half

Well not exactly in half, as the supporting boards on the top will need a diagonal for the head rest to attach to. If your pallets are the same size as mine (48*48") measure in from one side and mark 25 and 26 inches. Square them off as shown in picture 3, and draw a diagonal line like I did.

Cut the 25" line with the handsaw.

Make identical cuts all across the pallet to separate the two (almost)halves.

Step 4: Cut Diagonals on the Supporting Boards.

Not cut the diagonal marked on the last step and make identical diagonal cuts on the rest of the supporting boards all the way across the pallet. Refer to my video in the intro for more explanation if this isn't making sense.

Step 5: Prepare the Wood

You can spend as much or as little time as you like getting the wood prepped. The beauty of using pallets is we are far from fine woodworking, so do whatever you want with it. If you don't want to prep the wood at all it might give people splinters though, and as much as your hipster friends will appreciate the up cycled nature of the furniture, they typically have a low pain tolerance and will be very unimpressed if they get a splinter from using it.

Start with the wire brush, then the 80 grit sand paper. You could then sand it with a finer grit too but sanding is boring.

Wood filler on cracks is an optional step.

Step 6: Attach the Seat to the Base

Stack the two half pallets on top of each other and screw them together. Hopefully it's obvious, but the half with the diagonals should go on the top.

Step 7: Attaching the Headboard

The 2nd pallet you collect is going to be used for the head board. Start by knocking off any extra boards, like on the bottom or back of the pallet, then prep it with the wire brush, sanding and wood filler like in the last step.

Then attach the fence brackets to the diagonals, drop the headboard in place, and secure it with strong ties.

Step 8: Paint or Stain

We used a 'Walnut' exterior stain to finish this piece off. Clean it first with a wet rag, and put some drop sheet down where you stain it.

Step 9: Drink Wine and Enjoy!

You're done.