Hey everyone! I posted an instructable a couple weeks ago showing how I used pallets to make a cheap and cool looking pallet patio set, today I'm going to be showing the design I came up with to make a coffee table to go with it. This is a really fun project, it's an easy and cheap way to make a high quality table and it only uses 1 pallet that is easy to find anywhere. Strongly recommend this for anyone interested in DIY home improvement! Enjoy :)
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Step 1: Watch My Instructional Video
If a photo is worth a thousand words a video blah blah blah. I spent a lot of time putting together this detailed video to go along with this tutorial so watch it for more details on any of the steps or for a good overview of the project before you begin. Direct link if you need it is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v44L5N7hsXU
Step 2: Tools and Materials
You can do this without any of the power tools I have here, but it will be more difficult, specifically to disassemble the pallet. Due to increased likelihood of damaging the wood from the pallet, if you don't have a reciprocating saw you may want to use 2 pallets to ensure you salvage enough wood for this project.
Reciprocating saw, drill, palm sander
Essential tools and supplies:
Handsaw, metal brush, hammer, marker & tape, 80 grit sandpaper, 2 inch construction screws, nails
Dust mask, glasses, gloves, hearing protection
Step 3: Find a Pallet
Find a pallet by checking out online classifieds or knocking on doors. Make sure your pallet is heat treated, uncoloured and has cut outs for forklift arms as shown in the 4th image.
Step 4: Take Safety Seriously!
Wear your safety equipment, and contain nails and splintery wood. When you start to take the pallet apart, you'll find yourself surrounded by planks of wood full of nails that look more like a zombie apocalypse weapon than something you're going to turn into furniture. Keep pets and people away from where you're working and clean up well when you're done.
Step 5: Disassemble the Pallet
With the reciprocating saw, cut the nails on the top and bottom of the sides of the pallets to remove the outer supporting wood pieces. If you don't have a reciprocating saw, do your best to bust the pallet apart with a hammer. If there are any nails left sticking out of the supporting wood beams you removes, just hammer them in so they're flush. Next, use the hammer to knock the boards off of the centre supporting beam.
Step 6: Get Your Wood Sorted
Once you have all the wood taken apart, you'll need to sort it out and see what you have to work with. You need to find 4-6 flat pieces of wood in good shape to be the top of the table, 2 of the original supporting beams from the pallet to use as the legs and frame, and 2 other planks that are straight and in good shape to be the bottom frame. These pieces won't be seen like the pieces for the tabletop, so they can be in rougher shape. Reject any pieces of wood that are broken, cracked or knotty.
From my pallet I was able to find 5 piece of wood that were in particularly good shape to use as the tabletop. 4 were skinny and the same width, but the 5th was a larger size than the others. Give some thought to the layout of your tabletop as all pallets will be slightly different in terms of what you are able to salvage. In this case, I put the offside wood in the centre so the tabletop will by symmetrical.
When you've selected your wood, knock out any nails that are still left in the pieces you intend to use for this project.
Step 7: Sanding
Spend as much or as little time sanding as you like, but the more effort you spend here the better your final result will be. I recommend sanding all the wood, including the legs and frame pieces, and the bottom of the tabletop, even though it won't usually be seen. You can also use a finer grit sandpaper after you finish with the 80 grit for a better result.
Use the metal brush on each piece before you start sanding to remove as much loose dirt and wood as possible.
Step 8: Cut the Legs and Frame
The size of each table will depend on what wood you were able to salvage from your pallet. The determine factor will be the size of your tabletop. Centre the supporting beams on the tabletop and figure out how much you can cut off each side to use as the legs. For my table this number was 15 inches, which worked out great for the height of the table I was after.
Measure and cut off the legs, and position the tabletop boards on the frame, as shown. Refer to the video if you don't follow me.
Step 9: Nail Down the Tabletop
Use 2-3 nails per board, but be very careful not to break the wood. The reason for having a little overhang on the front of the table instead of putting the frame flush with the end is to decrease the chances of the wood breaking. The boards have likely already been nailed at the ends, so it's good to nail a few inches back from that.
Ensure you keep the tabletop square with the frame, and that the overhang on both ends is equal.
Step 10: Screw in the Legs
This step could be done better if you want to invest some more money and time into this project, but my goal was to do this quick so I just shot some screws in at an angle to hold the legs to the frame. I used 3 screws in each leg, one going in from the side, and 2 at the back. Some waterproof carpenters glue on these joints could also be beneficial.
Some strong ties from home depot, or using some extra wood from the pallet could strengthen these joints significantly. My dad's a carpenter, and the first thing he did when he saw this table was come over and wobble it and tell me the legs could have been attached better. I said, "Yes they could, but it holds my coffee and I didn't have to think too hard about it!" If you want quality furniture, go talk to the Amish (and bring your check book!). If you want to have fun making your own cheap furniture, continue with this instructable.
The legs can be facing in or out, depending on what you think looks best. The important thing is to make sure they are well attached and that you don't wreck the wood when you're screwing it together.
Step 11: Add the Supporting Frame
Nail down the two planks to the bottom of the frame for a little extra support. This will also create a possible storage shelve, and make the table look more like a pallet, because what's the point if you can't put it on Pinterest?
Step 12: Finishing Touches
The table itself is done, but you can finish it up with more sanding, using wood filler on any cracks and wholes, and painting or colouring it with an exterior finish. Let me know what you think! Thanks for checking this out :)