Introduction: Pallet Wood Coffee Table

About: 21st Century Womble

Hi all.

Apologies for taking so long to put these up. But adventures in pallet construction continue.

While the pallet sofa awaits the cushions to be upholstered I thought I'd share my coffee table.

Tried to push myself a little bit and move on from just utilitarian design to something a little bit different, even though this took a bit more thought and effort.

Was really inspired by dan440ss "Stellar-X Table" (link: and was wondering if I could make something more refined for indoor use. I also got looking at Parquet floor designs and then started to sketch out some things on my gas bill and this is what came of it!

I really like the 2 tone effect on the wood, and especially like that it doesn't really look like a pallet. Here's how it was done!

P.S... I entered this into the workshop contest to win honour. Please vote if you enjoyed it!

Step 1: Design

This is where it all began... sitting over coffee one morning with heaviness and lament in my heart for no-where whereupon to place said coffee that befitted it's status in my morning ritual.

I wanted to give the effect of interlocking pieces of wood emphasised by a difference in wood stain. It evolved a little as I went along but largely came out the same. You could be as imaginative as you like with this, but I wanted a square table and thought this would make it pretty interesting and about the right size given the pallet I had in my yard. Play around and measure up the space you have. 

The pencil sketch  was a slight improvement on the original Biro drawing on my bills I measured the pallet I had and downsized the design a touch.

Step 2: Tools and Materials

For this 'ible I used....

1) Pallet x1
2) 4x 1' lengths of 4x4 for the legs (found in skip from an old partition wall - could easily use some better quality pallets for this part also)
3) Sheet OSB to the size of your table - found in back alley
4) Mitre Saw -  have a powered mitre saw but can still be done with a conventional saw with a little more skill and patience.
5) Screws and screwdriver - again for ease I used a cordless drill but not strictly necessary
6) Wood glue for surface top
7) Varnish - two different shades used. One was water based floor stain and the other a darker water based interior varnish.
8) Sanding paper of various grades and block
9) Wood filler (optional)
10) Jigsaw (can also use normal saw - for cutting sheet OSB)

Step 3: Find Pallets and Dismantle

I used a single pallet for the majority of the table. Using the laths only (the good quality cross pieces could have been the legs but I needed them for another project). I found some 4x4 timber from an old partition wall in a skip that I used for the legs, and was fortunate enough to come across a great sheet of OSB to use for the surface top before it rained.

Once again, I used my mighty wrecking bar to dismantle pallets but plenty of good 'ibles on here that show you how if you don't have one. Probably would have helped to clear my work area first but was too EXCITED!

Step 4: Cut Table Top

I didn't know quite how big my table was going to be (I had a good guess) but to know precise size you'll need to make the table top first.

Nothing special to this, but I just started from the middle and cut pieces to fit with the mitre saw. Time and patience eventually paid off.

At this stage I also cut my four table legs to desired length (last picture)

Step 5: Cut OSB, Mount Legs, and Start Mounting Surface

Once you've made your beautiful table top you'll need to measure it. It will be mounted on a hidden square of OSB which should be cut in a square with a length 2 inches or so shorter than the tabletop. This gives it sturdy support but without the scruffy edges of the OSB being seen.

I mounted the OSB on the four legs by simply screwing through directly into the legs with four substantial screws on each. This felt pretty solid but will be strengthened slightly later with some side bits (next step).

Now you have something remotely resembling a table, draw a pencil line across each diagonal to find the centre. From here you can work outwards starting with the central couple of pieces. This means the top will be directly in the middle of the OSB and prevent any lopsidedness. To mount them I used a combination of wood glue and screws through the underside of the table. The outer pieces in particular need to be secure so they don't come off if someone tries to pick it up.

I did not glue or screw on the pieces I'd marked out to be a lighter shade and this will be explained more in later step, but you'll need them to build the jigsaw and mount everything else in place. (See last photo for clarification).

Just as an additional note I roughly sanded each piece of the tabletop before mounting with medium grade sandpaper (including the sides). My experience thus far with pallet wood has lead me to not worry too much about the finish until the first coat of varnish is on. More on this later....

Step 6: Add Side Bits

Can't remember the technical name for these bits, but they make the whole thing look a lot more refined and finished.

Cut to length and then you can either pocket hole them in or do what I did and just drill in screws at a bit of an angle from the back.

Repeat x4 for all 4 sides.

Step 7: Varnish: First Blood (parts 1 and 2)

Pallet wood is a fickle beast. If you go too hard with rough sandpaper you can just rip up new probems unless you're careful.

My solution:

Light sand only at first then apply first coat of varnish and sand again with medium sandpaper. Varnish soaks into the wood and brings out and hardens the rough bits making them much easier to extricate with an additional sanding.

So procedure was:
1: light sanding
2: 1st coat varnish (using darker stained varnish)
3: 2nd light sanding (be guided by how it feels and your own tolerance)
4: 2nd coat dark varnish

Then proceed to next step to complete table top>>>>>>>

Step 8: Complete Table Top and Ultimate Varnishing

Finish your jigsaw...

I just glued these bits in place. Some of them needed a little cajoling with the hammer but all worked out fine in the end.

Once table top complete fill in gaps if any have presented themselves - for this purpose either use commercial wood filler or mix sawdust with PVA (explained in previous 'ible plugged here:

Varnish procedure for these bits went as follows:

1) carefully sand each of the middle bits and insert and glue in
2) Using lighter coloured varnish - varnish the whole tabletop again (including the bits you've already varnished - it deepens the colour a little more and maintains contrast)
3) Give the whole thing a once over with moderately fine paper (240 grade or so) to make it all nice.
4) Final coat varnish to the whole thing
5) If obsessed by texture (as I am) give the most gentle of touches with 400 grade paper to finish.

Step 9: All Done!

Now make a brew and put your feet up on something to be proud of.

Thanks to everyone for viewing and many thanks again for those on here who continue to inspire me!

Pallet sofa yet to come...

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