Introduction: How to : Steel and Pallet Table / Reuse Refuse
Hello fellow builders! In this instructable I hope to step-by-step describe how to create this table from a pallet and salvaged steel. This is a series of ibles I curate, albeit a small one, but I hope a pretty good way to expand people's concept of waste and how much truly can be reused :-)
Step 1: Supplies!
*Note* I want this to be up for more artistic feel so I will be keeping measurements to a minimum (plus all that measuring, right? kidding)
-Various thicknesses of wood, preferably hardwood. You will need a generous amount of 1 inch thick pieces for the boarder and 1/2 inch thick pieces for within the "frame"
-1 1/2 inch to 2 1/2 inch steel tubing, whatever you can find and are capable of cutting and welding
-1/2 inch steel angle iron, this was my only buy for this project and made up 75% the cost
This being a almost purely salvaged project, which is a goal I believe I achieved, we must obtain materials that have been considered derelict to someone else. Getting used pallets is as easy as it gets just hit the Craigslist free section up and search "wood". Now for the steel beams and angle iron it is a bit harder. I suggest googling for any salvage yards nearby which are generally way cheaper then say a unnamed orange or blue big-box-stores.
Step 2: I've Been "Framed"... Oh Dear Lord! This Guy
Ahem! My atrocious humor aside...we must decide a size for our table! Right now we are just looking for length and width of the top, so height will come much later. Two long sides and two short sides for me. For this step many ways of attaching from tenons to nails work, I decided to try out my brand new Kreg pocket hole jig. This nifty tool is quite suited for this strain and I believe will hold up for years, and for my first impressions is worth its price.
It is key to ensure your boards are properly square before you start this (I just milled all sides up on these boards and it was a tad bit askew for the last holes). When all attached and glue has cured for a bit I went about adding the inside of the frame: around a 1/2 inch wooden square rod to hold the surface wood up. Essentially cut to length, glue, and carefully nail it!
Step 3: Filling and Securing the Frame!
This step I believe offers the most artistic freedom whether you choose to make the pallet boards and orient them differently, or if you pick another material like acrylic or glass. This project, in a sense, is your oyster!
As I made mine diagonal, for aesthetics and a bit of a challenge, I will demonstrate how I did so. Essentially I started in the corner and marked a 45° angle and cut it. Then placing it over the table I lined it up and marked where the other end should be cut. This is same for all the boards, even the corner ones, but some may involve partial degrees of variance.
When I originally envisioned this I thought I would nail the boards in...NOPE! The nails made everything out or alignment so I had to glue the boards in, simple as a large bead of glue around the inside of the frame and a board lengthwise to secure them all in.
*Note* Don't forget it's rustic, it can have slight gaps and look great still.
Step 4: Weld, Cut, Grind Weld...
Well we clearly can't have a floating table, well can't we right? Eh I'm not that good...yet! My main premise for this table was to have a "Z" shaped leg base, and after making it I discovered how much it bounced and I did not find that acceptable. My solution which is visible later is to add vertical supports that helped greatly.
Back-tracking a bit to the "collar" or inside brace is probably best. Measuring the interior and cutting the angles is straight forward, but be sure to add a generous gap (maybe 1/8" to 3/16" (4mm to 6mm)) on each side to save you the trouble of cutting it in half to remove length off of it like I had to.
Now that the inner collar fits measure where you wish the legs to mount and add two "mounting plates" or flat steel bar. I suggest after welding the first side to check the squareness of the other and ensuring it holds with a clamp.
Step 5: Grab Some Zs...Z-Shaped Legs
I find a lot of my decisions in making this piece came from the restrictions I found in the amount of steel tubing there was. Because of this I had to be very careful with my measurements, and oriented the cuts to save length (which is just common sense).
Start by grinding the jagged edges down with an angle grinder. I considered doing this to the whole legs for a "polished' look, but for the rustic vibe I was going for I left it.
When it comes to holding the legs up it's a type of balancing act between keeping it square and preventing it from sliding down, but once a tack or two is in place the rest is cake!
Step 6: Stop That Pesky Wobble...(i.e. More Welding)
No wobble yet, we need to make it do that first!
To complete the Z-shape some pretty intricate holding skills are necessary, or I suggest another set of hands. With the main bar of the legs welded on the bottom square tube that acts as the base needs to be welded. Ensure it is parallel to the main bar!! Without that attention to detail the legs will look askew and awkward.
Rinse and repeat for the other side again balancing everything.
Now this is where I found the weight of the table was pulling it down and making for a not level table. Simple fix I found was cut 1 inch corner stock of steel and cut it 45° when laid flat, not on its side as that angle is less.
Step 7: Big Reveal!
Combining top and bottom together at last was such a relief, after numerous tries to have them fit especially.
There you have it now you can choose to sand and coat it or leave it just sanded as mine is currently.
Thank you for reading!! I hope you learned a little, or at least appreciate a little more what "junk" can be turned into.
For more items made with this mindset follow me on Etsy and Instagram :-)
Participated in the
8 years ago
Awesome table... Thanks for sharing
Reply 8 years ago
Thank you so much, I've seen your stuff around and it is of great quality:-)
8 years ago
I had a question. Is the wood safe? Would you know if the wood has been treated with chemicals?
Reply 8 years ago
That is a great question! The wood I used had a burned logo in it that I believe meant heat treated only, but I know many do have some pretty nasty chemicals. I would say wear a mask at all times when working, and coat it in a protective coating to keep it safe, as well as us. Thank you for the comment:-)