Introduction: Cable Spool Pallet Bench - DIY Outdoor Seating!

About: My love of making things started young, with a mom who was always coming up with projects and a dad whose tool collection still gives me envy. I got my love of bright colors from mom and my love of working wi…

Sometimes when you see a giant industrial cable spool sitting on the side of the road, you just have to take it and then figure out what you want to make out of it later. That's exactly what happened here. After seeing a cable spool on the side of a major road here for several weeks, checking with local business owners to ensure it wasn't theirs, and one quick call to the local PD to ensure that it wasn't illegal, we grabbed the truck and loaded this beast up, not knowing what it would become.

A couple of months later, and the lightbulb went off in our heads, and we went to work making the most awesome (and incredibly comfortable) Cable Spool Pallet Bench. We stocked up on some sand paper for our power sanders, grabbed a few saws and a drill, and got to work making the most awesome seating ever to grace this pool patio.


Industrial cable spool (can be found on Craigslist or FB marketplace)

3 x 48” pallets (can be found on Craigslist or FB marketplace)

Scrap 2x4

5” Galvanized hex bolts + nuts + washers -

1.5” Lag screws -

Deck screws -

Stain (we used Flagstone) -

Spar urethane -

Miter saw -

Circular saw -

Jig saw -

Random orbital sander -

Detail sander -

Belt sander -

Clamps -

Power drill -

Sandpaper -

Forstner bit -

Measuring tape -

Pencil -

Mallet -

E6000 -

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Step 1: Disassemble Cable Spool

First things first, you need to disassemble that giant cable spool! Depending on the size of your cable spool, this might be a two person job—one person on one side and your partner on the other side.

Gather the following materials: cable spool, painter’s tape, socket wrench, adjustable wrench.

Follow these steps:

1. Remove the bolts on the cable spool with a ratcheting socket wrench.

Note: You may need someone on the other side holding another wrench for traction.

2. Pull out all of the long bolts that are holding the cable spool together.

3. Separate the two sides of the spool from the middle, and set the middle planks aside. A swift kick will do the trick. ;)

Step 2: Shape and Sand the Spool Sides

Now that your spool is disassembled, it’s time to create those awesome sides for your bench!

Gather the following materials: circular saw (or other power saw that can cut long straight lines), power sanders, something round for a guide (we used a plastic party platter, pencil, jigsaw, and clamps. Don't forget your safety gear (gloves, eye protection and a mask/respirator).

Follow these steps:

1. Determine the height you want your bench to be.

2. Use a circular saw to cut off the bottoms of the large circles to create a flat surface. Be mindful of any nails or staples in your way.

Note: We clamped down a guide board on the spool sides to keep the cut straight.

3. Sand the bottom until it is smooth. A belt sander made quick work of this.

4. Draw a circular pattern on the top using a platter as a guide.

5. Use a jigsaw to cut out the shape.

6. Trace the cut onto the second spool piece.

7. Repeat the cut on the second piece.

8. Clamp the pieces together and sand the cut with a belt sander until smooth.

9. Continue sanding all sides (edges, front and back of both pieces) until smooth.

Note: We used 80 grit and then went up to 150 grit with a random orbital sander.

Step 3: Cut Pallets to the Appropriate Depth

Now it’s time to do the rough cuts on the bench pieces! We do this at this point so we can add the guide brackets to the large circular sides.

Gather the following materials: circular saw (or other saw) and 2 pallets.

Follow these steps:

1. Pick your best two pallets and decide which one will be the seat of the bench and which will be the back of the bench.

2. Use a saw to cut both pallets just behind the middle support.

3. Set aside.

Step 4: Add Guide Brackets to the Inside of the Spool Pieces

At this step, we’re going to put some brackets in place to help guide us during assembly. These are less for support and more for ensuring that everything goes together nice and level when the time comes to assemble.

Gather the following materials: scrap wood, deck screws, drill, measuring tape, 2 pallets that you just cut.

Follow these steps:

1. Cut 4 pieces of scrap wood to use as guide brackets. We used 1x2s and cut them to approximately 10” long.

2. Place pallets on the inside of one of the spool pieces to determine placement.

3. Once you are happy with the placement, pre-drill and then screw guide brackets into place on the inside of one of the spool pieces, right under where each pallet will sit.

4. Screw guide brackets on other spool piece using a measuring tape to ensure proper placement.

Step 5: Reinforce and Sand the Pallets

Woo hoo! You’re moving right along. Now you need to reinforce the pallets to ensure that they support a couple of humans sitting on them. Unless your pallets are rock solid, we highly recommend doing this step.

Gather the following materials: 2 cut pallets, spare pallet, crowbar, mallet, power saw, oscillating multi-tool, drill, deck screws, power sanders, 2x4.

Follow these steps:

1. Use a crowbar and mallet to gently break down the third pallet to have extra planks of wood for the bench pallets.

2. Cut extra pallet planks to size so that they fit in between the planks on both the bench seat and back.

3. Attach extra planks by first pre-drilling holes and then using deck screws to secure them in place.

4. Use two screws per side, and be careful to not split the wood.

5. For the bench seat, take one of the support boards from the broken down pallet and slide it into the middle of the bench seat.

6. Secure middle support in a few places with deck screws.

7. On the front of the bench seat, ensure all wood is flush. Use an oscillating multi tool if you need to trim any protruding planks.

8. Cut 2x4’s to fit into the ends of each pallet. These will be your attachment points, so ensure that they fit snugly.

9. Secure 2x4’s with deck screws.

10. Sand all surfaces of the pallets until smooth.

Step 6: Cut and Sand the Integrated Side Tables and Brackets

You’re almost done cutting all of the pieces. We wanted this bench to have some built-in side tables, perfect for placing a drink on when chilling on the patio.

Gather the following materials: scrap cutoffs from the spool, scrap 2x4s, power saw, power sanders.

Follow these steps:

1. Use a power saw to cut out half moon side tables, one for each side.

Note: Ours were flat on the back.

3. Cut four triangles out of 2x4’s to serve as support brackets for the side tables.

Note: Due to the shape of the side tables, we had one large triangle and one smaller one for the front on each side.

4. Sand all pieces until smooth.

Step 7: Stain and Seal All Pieces

Whether you paint or stain the pieces (or leave them all natural) is totally up to you. We wanted to keep the industrial look of everything, so we went with a stain and seal approach.

Gather the following materials: stain of your choice, Spar Urethane, rag and brushes (as appropriate to the materials you’re using).

Follow these steps:

1. Stain the pallets, spool sides and side tables the color of your choice. Follow the instructions on your stain for drying and recoating times.

2. Coat all pieces in Spar Urethane to seal the wood for outdoor use.

3. Allow all pieces to dry fully in accordance with the instructions on the product you use.

Optional: Add plastic feet to the bottoms of the spool sides, as this will help keep it off the ground (which is particularly important so it doesn't sit in puddles after it rains).

Step 8: Assemble the Bench

Now for the really fun part - seeing all of your hard work come together…literally. Because this thing was going to be HEAVY once it was put together, we moved our work out of the shop and onto the patio for assembly.

Gather the following materials: all pieces of the bench, ratcheting socket wrench, adjustable wrench, drill, deck screws, forstner bit, (8) 5” bolts, (12) 2” bolts (if you want to put the decorative metal plates back on, be sure you have enough washers for the bolts.

Follow these steps:

1. Lay one of the spool sides down on the floor.

2. Place your pallets on top of the guide brackets.

3. Use 2 deck screws in each side to tack the pallet into place.

4. Use a forstner bit to drill through both pieces.

Note: If your drill bit is not long enough, you may need to untack the pallet and finish drilling all the way through. We had to do that.

5. Make sure you drill through the bench bottom and bench back.

6. Insert 4 bolts through the spool piece and through the pallets.

7. Hand tighten hex bolts (we’ll tighten everything down once we get the other side on).

8. Have a friend hold the other spool side vertically while you lift the entire unit until it is standing.

9. Repeat the process of tacking the pallets to the other side of the spool, drilling through them, and then hand tightening bolts.

10. Once you are happy with how everything is fitting, use a ratcheting socket wrench to tighten everything down.

Step 9: Add Side Tables and Finishing Touches

If you chose to make the side tables earlier in the process, now is the time to attach them!

Gather the following materials: side table pieces, triangular supports, drill, deck screws.

Follow these steps:

1. Bolt the original metal washers to the outsides of the spool pieces.

Note: We glued short bolts into the holes where having an exposed bolt and washer would be a potential danger to people when sitting on the bench.

2. Place the side table upside down on your work surface.

3. Lay one of the triangular support brackets in place.

4. Drill two holes straight down into the underside of the side table.

5. Insert screws through holes and secure in place.

6. Flip table on its side and drill two holes through the support bracket (these will be used to attach the table to the side of the bench unit.

7. Repeat the process for the other three support brackets.

8. Determine where you want to place the side tables on the bench. We went with 4” from the top.

Note: Use a level to ensure that the tables are straight.

9. Screw the tables into the sides of the bench using deck screws.

Step 10: Add Cushions and Enjoy!

Congrats! You have officially finished creating your awesome cable spool pallet bench. Truthfully, this thing is SO comfortable as is (thanks to the hours of sanding) that we don't HAVE to have cushions on it. But, I like that extra bit of softness and style. So if you're in the same boat, just add some cushions and your favorite outdoor pillows, grab a drink, and relax!!

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