By this point, dear reader, you have probably seen hundreds of pallet tables: Beautifully finished ones, rustic fireside tables, reclaimed and replaned tabletops... But, if your like me, they all seem to follow the same ol' rectangular feel. That can get boring. Now break out those uniquely-shaped planks, the too short ones, the oddly-cut ended ones, and a bottle of glue, and of course, your trusty pencil. No tape measure needed, for the tabletop, at least.
Dremel with drill bit, flap sander
Random Orbit Sander
Step 1: The Design
Think of something. Now think of something else. Now throw out those ideas, and let the pencil do the talking. You can take some cues from nature, from whatever. Sometimes, you have to let creativity and foolishness flow. Once you have a design you believe to be nice looking, or with some nice curves that will show off your talent with a jigsaw (Or in my case, stubbornness not to build a rectangle!), draw it onto the wood you will later glue the planks onto-in my case, some old chipboard. I'm not fancy when it comes to tables. Grab out the ol' jigsaw, or band-saw, or what have you, and start cutting. Look out for any nails, if your using old construction wood.
Step 2: The Planking
Now, get out your boards, and arrange them into a pattern, and glue them onto the plywood. Ah, glue. Its the frosting of the woodworking world. Note: In Hindsight, I probably should've marked the pattern on the planks, cut out the curves, THEN glue them on. At the time, I was worried that I would mess up a curve and have to redo a plank. Do what you think is best.
Step 3: On Your Mark...Get Set...Clamp!
Now, break out ALL the clamps. If you don't have many, use the heaviest objects you can find-in my case, two cinder blocks. Once the initial glue-up has dried, check up on the table top. Look if there are any loose boards and re-glue them using some actual clamps.
Step 4: Cut Out the Curves!
Now, grab whatever sawing device you used earlier, and cut out the curves again, this time with the planking on top. Check if there are any warped boards that popped off the table and need flattening, or any planks that didn't get glued enough. Then, sand the planks down. It might be a good idea to round off the edges if you can.
Step 5: Connecting Your Tabletop to the Ground: Part One
Now, grab your leg material. For mine, I determined to make this an All-Pallet Affair (No money wasted if you think the table is ugly and want a fire at the same time!) and grabbed some 2by4s that were on one of the pallets. Well, on measuring them, I found they were actually 2by3.4s. First, measure 15" up; Make a horizontal line at that mark. Cut the 2by4 on this line using a miter saw, or handsaw. Then, find the true measurement of your 2by4, and determine where the center shall be. Once you do that, mark a vertical line, running up the center of the board. Cut the 15" board on whatever saw you think would do the best job; In my case, I used my scrollsaw.
Step 6: Connecting Your Tabletop to the Ground: Part Two
Now, examine your table's shape. Where would the best locations be for the legs? Once that is found, mark the outline of your legs. Using a dremel or drillpress or what-have-you, go down to at least halfway through your base layer (I think mine went down to 1/4"). Using a small chisel, clean up the edges. Dry fit your legs, and altar until the legs are all level with each other.
Step 7: Connecting Your Tabletop to the Ground: Part Three
Now, for the penultimate step for those who will finish their table, or the ultimate step for those who won't. Epoxy in those legs, boy! Follow the directions on the bottle/can of your resin/epoxy and fill in any holes or gaps in your leg joints. Wait a day, and then see if the table stands. If you want to be really precise, check the tabletop with a level. You can now choose the finish, leave it plain, or paint it with milk-paint to allow the grain to show, but still add some nice color. Now bring the table to it's permanent home, fireside, and enjoy!
Step 8: Finish It!
Now it's time to finish your woodworking-based foray into upcycling. Find a good finish. I used a stain and polyurethane stain; I like this one because it finishes into a nice protective coating, and works well with the many different types of wood I used.
Step 9: Tips on Designing
If you don't like the idea of yelling "LEEEEEEROOOOOY JENKINS!" and running hap-hazardly into the cutting zone, then you might like these few tips.
If the table is meant for a wobbly area-say, a bumpy piece of grass- consider making the table a three-point design. With three legs, the table will be more stable due to the restricted degrees of freedom. You can see this occur on three-legged stools, and tripods. Another tip is to maybe try incorporating elements of design into play: Rhythm, for one; Color, and Balance. You can even try cutting your favorite superhero symbols or such out of an eye-catching piece of wood (Scrap paduak, mahogany, curly maple) and routing out a place to glue it in in the final project. If your table has some knots in it, or some moldy or rotten parts that you think look awesome but would threaten the integrity, try using some clear epoxy resin or such to fill in those parts, or some cracks between boards. I have even seen some people use concrete. Another good idea is to try using dutchmans, a joint usually used to 'stich' together cracks in things such as slabs (These joints are also known as butterflies). However, if the tabletop isn't level, then that might not turn out as well as you planned.