Broad Pallet Patio Furniture




Sustainable Blacksburg was holding a contest called Broadening the Pallet focusing on the idea of reuse of commercial pallets. We decided to build some furniture for our balcony out of the four pallets we collected as part of the contest.

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Step 1: Design Your Furniture

While you could start working right away, we would suggest putting a little design work at the beginning to simplify the overall process. We decided on a hexagonal table with two matching stools. We spent a few evenings working out all the details beforehand to be sure we knew where we were headed.

Step 2: Disassemble the Pallets

After having a basic design completed, we started disassembly of the pallets. The method we used was cutting the slats off the stringers as the wood was prone to cracking if we tried prying the wood with the crowbar. By severing the connection at the two ends and then wiggling the center stringer off the board, we were able to minimize the damage to the boards and generate the maximum amount of usable wood using the tools on hand. Some of the boards did split, as can be seen in the picture above. The wood is quite brittle, so this is to be expected even if you are being careful.

Using a Sawzall to cut the nails would likely be more effective, and is suggested if you have the means. In either case, please wear safety glasses for this and all the other steps in this Instructable as the wood and nails have a tendency to do exciting things when being pried, cut, or sawed.

Step 3: Cutting and Assembly

Having disassembled the pallets, it was then time to cut out our components and assemble them. We used a miter box to achieve the numerous 60 degree angles necessary for this hexagonal table. Once the pieces were cut, we used an electric sander to do both rough (80 grit) and fine (200 grit) sanding.  

We used outdoor phillips-head screws to assemble the table. We first assembled the three supported sections of the tabletop as seen in the first figure below. These were attached to the central pillar, and the remainder of the tabletop was suspended between these three support sections. We could not support all six sides as the planters would interrupt any supports running from the central pillar on those sides where they reside. Two of the runners from a pallet were crossed in an 'X' pattern to be used as legs and attached at the bottom of the central support.

Step 4: The Chairs

I will be explaining the chair assembly here once I finish them completely. For now, I will say that it took one pallet of materials for each chair due to the need for sturdy legs.

Step 5: Finishing

Before staining, we filled all the holes left by the pallet nails using wood filler. We then laid out dropcloths in the house as it was too cold to stain outside. The light stain we used was a low VOC stain from Olympic, and we used an Olympic toner for the darker stain. The picture shows the planters being stained before the contest on our kitchen table.

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    7 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    I like your hexagonal design, it shows how much planning you put into it! Repeating the design for the chairs is a great idea. The math for the angles impresses me to no end; the miter saw is a great asset.

    I'm unclear about a couple of things, though. I'm unsure about the three gaps in the table. You refer to the supporting parts, then something about interfering with the planters. Are drop-in planters going into these openings? Would this make it a little awkward to use as a dining table?

    The info about the chairs is incomplete, will the have backs? Are they standard chair height? You hinted that more info would be added. If this project was started in 2010, is it finished now, and how well has it aged? Did weather effect it?

    I also liked that you kept the shape of the pallet risers - if that is the right word - for the legs, it easily lends itself to be the leg design with the cut-out parts. Please post more pictures of your progress! Thanks! Great job so far!


    5 years ago

    Maybe I read over it, but how many pallets did it take to make the table?

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    If memory serves, the table was 2 pallets, and the chairs each take 1 pallet.


    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    If memory serves, it was 60 degrees, but I built the table and chair way back in 2010. I was actually thinking it was finally time to get around to making the other chair this spring, so hopefully, I can post some updates when that happens!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I'm looking forward to this being finished - don't forget to hit "publish" when you do!