Introduction: Pallet Wood Desk

About: 21st Century Womble

Howdy everyone

Long time fan and user of the site, inspired by so many others here I thought I ought to start sharing too.

This is my first ible and covers my turning most of a large pallet into a sizable and solid computer desk with minimal tools and minimal expense. I had varnish and fixings sufficient for completion lying around but even if you had to buy I'd guess total cost of £5 or so.

I'm old school and still use desktop PCs so made a computer shelf too, but laptop using types could give it a miss or change around if needed.

Step 1: Tools and Materials...

i) 1x large pallet - mine came with slats 2.4m long, 90x12mm approx, plus some 75x35mm approx supporting timbers.
ii) Drill/screwdriver
iii) Screws of appropriate sizes
iv) Saw
v) varnish I used water based varnish with a medium stain as it was what I had lying around but you could go for whatever with this
vi) counter sink bit (optional)
vii) sandpaper - useful to have some coarse (60 grade) as well as some finer grades for finishing. Power sander was useful but sanding block proved equally effective.
viii) PVA glue
ix) dustpan and brush

Step 2: Dismantle Pallet.

I happen to have an awesome wrecking bar from lifting my floor previously which is ideal for dismantelation. There's plenty of excellent instructables about how to achieve the same effect if you don't have a massive tool.

Get rid of old nails pile up wood and think deskly thoughts.

Step 3: Construct Uprights...

This is where I got carried away and forgot to take pictures.

Fortunately my carpentry skills could be imitated admirably by a monkey so you can see how I've built everything using simple techniques and screws.

Firstly decide how tall and how wide you want the desk to be.

I cut the thicker bits of pallet wood to form 6 uprights and 6 cross pieces then built 3 identical sections as shown in the picture. Cut to length depending on the timber you have and desired dimensions.

To fix together I just drilled in through the uprights and counter sunk the screws, mounting one cross piece at the top of each, and the other just above ground level. 

Step 4: Add Desktop and Support

Having made your 3 uprights check how wide your computer is if you want a computer shelf, alternative options would be a drawer or a nondescript shelf. 

If you are building one, stick your left hand uprights together with gash timber at the desired width, then with help of a friend or a friendly wall to lean against, start to add your desktop.  I started front to back, making a good effort to keep my less than straight timbers as close as possible at all times before screwing down.

You can of course just make the shelf 1st time around, but I found this gave me some flexibility to start with so I could adjust things around.

As my slats were 2.4m long, I cut them in half to give me a 1.2m desk with minimal waste, but again dimensions are up to you.

I countersunk the screws on the desktop to give me smoother finish, then did the same cutting shorter lengths to make my computer shelf.

To make the desk sturdy I added a diagonal support at the back, some supports under the desktop itself and a piece and a horizontal slat across the front for stability and aesthetics - all best shown in the photos.

Step 5: Fill Gaps...

Sweep up some coarse wood shavings from your efforts thus far and mix with PVA to make a spreadable paste. This makes great cheap woodfiller that roughly matches your wood and fills the bigger gaps and hides most of your countersunk screws.

I came back at a later stage to finish the job in a later step - fill it twice, make it nice.

Step 6: Sand, Sand, Sand...

Having filled the wider gaps as best you can, get your preferred sander (block or powered) with 60 grade sandpaper and get cracking. I used 120 grade for a final once over.

Focus on the desktop as that's the bit you'll most notice. The uprights only really need a quick once over really. Once varnished I went over again with finer sandpaper and it gave a nice (if a touch rustic) finish.

Whatever you do wear a mask. Woody Guthrie taught us this valuable lesson:

When done sanding you may notice some wee holes or roughness in the joins. At this point mix some PVA with the dust on the surface and rub it in the gaps. Filled twice and made nice. You'd probably need to sand again, but not much.

When done give him a nice wash with soapy water.

Step 7: Varnish Away...

I had good quality water based varnish and it went on like a dream. 2 coats then a light sanding with 240 grade paper around the edges to make more tactile, then a final thin coat.

Step 8: Use and Enjoy...

Rustic but practical and looks great for minimal cost and minimal new materials.

More pallet base projects on the cards.

Thanks for reading all. Good luck with all your future projects everybody!