Introduction: A Need for a Coffee Table.
I needed a coffee table for our living room. Instead of going to buy one I, with the help of a friend, set to building a table I drew up. The end result did not happen due to our little combined knowledge. The end result looks great in the living room. All done with basic tools that we had, most donated or borrowed. Collecting pallets was the easiest part of the build.
- Kreg jig 2 kit
- Reciprocating saw
- Wood and Nail blades
- miter saw (Donated)
- Corded electric drill,
- #2 Phillips bit
- Countersink bit
- 7/64 pilot bit
- Sodium Bicarbonate
- 60 grit sanding paper
- 120 grit sanding paper
- 220 grit sanding paper
- 400 grit sanding paper
Do not drink and use any power, electrical, or any tools for that matter. Best used for drying process and idea tossing at the end of the night.
Step 1: Who Knew What Garbage Can Do.
We searched the areas around local/chain businesses in our town to find some pallets. Some made it to the finale project, while some made it to the fire pit. There are enough pallets laying around your town to give you a bit of wood to choose from. We got lucky and found an A.T.V. crate for the 2xs.
- Find a pallet around 4.5ft to 5ft long for the sides
- Find additional 3 for plank selection and legs
- Dissemble your pallets (easiest way we found to do this was to pry boards slightly losse as to not to damage the wood. While using a reciprocating saw with wood/nail blades, as much as possible tried not to damage any wood)
Step 2: Sorry.... But Wait There's More.
We did not come to learn of Instructables.com until quarter to half way through the project, thus lack of upcoming photos.
Here is the next step anyways, Cutting!
Lay the wood out and select the best looking ones and set into sized piles. Remember you will need two 2x4 boards at least 4.5 feet long for the ends.
- Starting on the frame
Take the two 2x4 long boards and measure and inch to inch and a half in and square with the right angle. Cut short ends off using miter saw, or saw of your choice we used a miter saw. Making a clean square cuts. Measure from fresh cut up the board 48" or 4 feet. Square off right right angle, and cut with miter saw. Leaving you with two 48" or 4 foot 2x4 boards.
Take 11 2x4 boards at least 2.5 feet long. Repeat above steps to make all eleven boards 2 feet long.
Select four of the best looking boards for your legs. Using the steps as mentiioned, cut down to 18 inches long.
Step 3: A Plane Ride.
Hand planing our wood.
*side note: This took some learning on how to work it the best for us. on the wood bench we secured, screwed, boards thinner than the 2x4s we were using to give us the ability to one man, hand plane, each board.
*Bonus side not: Save shavings for fire kindling. Works great would recommend.
Two ways you can go about this next step. You can choose your option,
- Plane all sides of the 2x4s. No prep work, more arm work. Nice option if you have an electric planer.
2. Plane only the visible edges. Takes more time in prepping but saves you in planing time. This is a bid deal if you are doing it with a hand planer. Trust us, you don't need a gym if using a hand planer.
Side note- If you use a hand planer you will have rough patches and blade lines, don't worry about it. Also, pay attention to knots, they will eat your blade up.
Using sanding block sand from 60 grit, 120 grit, then 220 grit. Giving you a smooth finish. By this point your boards may look night and day difference. Ours did, not perfect but way better than the pallet wood that we started with.
Step 4: Frankenstein. It's Alive!
**OPTIONAL COSMETIC STEP**
We do not under any circumstances recommend anybody using a Lichtenberg device. It is a highly dangerous machine that can, at .5 amps with 2,000 volts, kill you. We take multiple steps in safety. Such as, two people at all times, one guy only controlling the wands, one guy watching over everything else. All done with an heavy emphasis on insulating oneself. To not encourage this we will not explain how it is built.
Frankenstein is a homemade device that will send electricity through the wood causing the Lichtenberg figures. With a magic potion of sodium bicarbonate and water applied to the wood using the 1 and 1/2 inch paint brushes. the desired effect was achieved.
Step 5: Poly Wants a Sponge Brush.
Now we apply a finish to the planed and sanded portions, or if finished all sides. side of your choosing. Remember, the supports will be unlikely to be seen, so we did not polyurethane these. We applied the polyurethane to the finished sections to give it a glass like appearance. As well as to seal and protect the table some.
We selected the four legs to be done first. As these will need a complete 360 polyurethane'd. Set a board down, wide face up in front of you and apply the poly (this will be polyurethane from now on) to the wide face and two long side pieces. Leaving the ends for flipping and moving. Place this in drying area. Repeat for the other three legs. Set aside to dry.
Gather the other cuts and start polying the finished faces as before.
We used a combo pack of sponge brushes for all poly application from dollar general, $2 for around nine or ten. Budgeting.
Now that the project is slow and all tools are set away and/at least unplugged. Beer and wait. You got time.
Now that you let them dry for the recommend time frame, our wait time of about 2 hours. You are going to use the 220 grit on all the polyurethane'd surfaces. We even went as far as 400 grit on the legs to give them a truly glass finish.
Repeat this process for three layers on all finished faces. Three layers gave it the best finish for our time spent.
Step 6: Kreg Helped With Assembly
A friend lent us his Kreg jig to use for this table. It came to be really handy. Giving use the abilty to hide our screw holes and give it much greater strength. We used the kreg on the support beams and shorter end pieces. fastened the legs using wood screws.
Mark the center on the unfinished face of the 2 foot board. Place the board in the kreg jig unfinished side facing you centered to the Kreg. Using the kreg jig bit set to the depth to 1 inch, as well as the guide hole block set to 1 inch. Drill the two outside holes of the jig per board. Do this on both ends, same face.
Lay out the 4 foot boards unfinished side facing you. Placing a towel or microfiber cloth between your worktop and the finished face. Don't wanna have to reface it. Place your 2 foot end piece in a 90 degree angle to 4 foot board marking the width in from the edges, on both ends. Pick a leg and mark it in relation to the table. Ex. leg 1 spot 1, A to A, ect. Marking the edge to the inside of the table again. We made another mark in the center of the 4 foot board and also marked the center of a support beam. From the center point of the board to the inside of the leg mark, we marked the center of this, for both ends of the 4 foot board. Giving us 9 marks on each board. Two for end boards. Two for legs. 5 for support.
This was done for each of the 4 foot boards. To make fastening the boards even faster.
Using the bit from the Kreg kit and 1-1/4 inch Kreg screws. We secured each board to the 4 foot board keeping everything centered to our predetermined center points. 12 Kreg screws to each 4 foot board. Repeating this to the other 4 foot end piece. Giving us our squared table top. We then set the legs into the table, in their pre-set locations. Using the 7/64th drill bit to make guide holes for each leg. Then using 2-1/2 inch wood screws we secured the legs to the table. Three screws in a triangular pattern to each leg. Using 12 wood screws for all four legs.
M. Night Shyamalan twist. Wood was uneven and wavy due to being reclaimed crate wood but it was free. We had an idea to wet the wood and screw it to the table. Garden hose in hand we wet the table down. Idea brought to you by a freind, Bubba. So we set the table upon our squared work bench and screwed through the bottom of the work top up through to the face of the table pulling it to become squared. Wet the table down with a hand spry bottle, twice daily, for three days.
After three days we removed the frame and reset the legs an secured them with the 2-1/2 inch wood screws. Upon laying table down, there was minimal rock in the table.
Step 7: What to Do With This Top?
By this time we came to this point. with some beer idea swapping. We came to the realization the top idea was going to be more trouble than good with our skill level. Upon laying our plank boards out. we seen a simpler but yet equally stunning option.
Yay, Another plane ride
The boards for this section were just plank boards from the pallets. we removed the nails and cut off the splintered or just nail hole edges. no set distance meant not perfect lengths. Giving it a bit more home made feel. Plus we figured this is a pallet table, not a finished new wood table.
We screwed each of these plank boards to the table. one 1-1/4 wood screw on each of the ends, as well as one 1-1/4 wood screw in the center. Paying close attention to secure to the support beams underneath.
We gathered more planks, even some scarps we had laying around that could fit the job. Measure each space to find the longest distance from end of board to the table. we cut all the boards to the longest point. creating eight short planks. we then planed and sanded the wide face. Only planing the long sides roughly. set these dry fit into a resective slot. numbering them as they got placed.
At this point we were trying to figure out what we were going to do to the top. we came to staining the top. Two different stains. but which two stains?
Step 8: What to Choose for Our Top?
We went to our local Home Depot to select some stains. This took some talking and deciding. We decided on four stains, Minwax Natural 209, Minwax Provincial 211, Minwax Gunstock 231, and Minwax Cherry 235 . Selecting the smaller size cans for test. We got a board from the same pallet, to make sure of same material was stained. Proceeded to cut, plane, sand the board into four even sections. Staining each board to an different shade. Allowing it dry to can recommend time. Did as many layers until we got a shade we liked. When the boards were completely dry, we set them to the table for compare and contrast. We ended up choosing the Natural 209 and Provincial 211.
Side note* Here we realized we needed to pane the outside edge of the table and trim the short boards to be flush and square to the table.
We stained each of the long boards with the Minwax Natural 209 and more Dollar General sponge brushes. Applying three layers, with wipe downs ten minuets after applying. Then letting dry. This was to reach desired shade.
We stained the short boards with the Minwax Provincial 211 and the Dollar general sponge brushes. Applying only a single coat and letting it dry without wiping down.
We secured the long board to the table with only wood screws. we fit the short boards into their respective spots using a loving hammer and Gorilla wood glue. Only the two corner pieces have a single screw in them. Wiping excessive glue and allowing the glue to dry.
You then apply one more layer of natural 209 to the entire table top including the area stained with Provincial 211. Gives it a nice finish in our opinion.
Step 9: Almost There, Don't Give Up!
Fix some issues.
Now you look at your table and think "Man, Good looking table, right?" "Wrong!" screws and nail holes everywhere. We personally did not like how it looked. Back to the Home Depot to get wood putty. We used Dap Natural wood putty. Filled in the screw hole and nail holes. Sanded with 220 grit sand paper got it smooth to the wood with minimal damage.
Now much better looking.
One last dance with Polyurethane....
We applied two coats of polyurethane to the entire table top and edges. Some will leak through due to gaps in the wood. We recommend going to as many as 4 coats of Polyurethane.
Allow to dry. You made a reclaimed, handmade, coffee table for your home. Even us beginners could do it.
Step 10: Enjoy!
This project was completed by a two beginning carpenters. This all was made possible from donations of tools and time, from friends and family. What we are trying to say is you can make it if we could. We have faith in you.