Coffee Table for Free





Introduction: Coffee Table for Free

About: I'm a french craftmanship enthousiast, Former graphic designer, i've graduated in a woodworking school in Canada in 2015. Since my first projects years ago, i've been using recycled materials and objects t...

In this instructable i will try to explain step by step how i have made that coffee from scrap wood and a pallet.

To achieve that you will need :

Tools :

a hand saw (japanese saws are the best in my opinion)
wood white glue
a hammer
sanding paper or powerfull sanding tools

material :

wood filler
a pallet
various pieces of wood
size of the pieces actually depend of the pallet you will have. There's so many differents i can't say you will find the same as mine. But it to show you the principle.

Step 1: The Main Frame First

Let's start.
You want to make sure your pallet is ready before doing any drawers. So take your pallet, if it's wet, let it dry at home for a days or two in order to dry the wood. This will save you some precious time because if you don't dry it, as you will fill the holes, sand and clean, once dryied, cracks will appear.

So make it smooth, make it soft.

After a first general sanding, blow the dust out of it, and use wood filler. Fill all your holes and cracks, make some reparations if there are missing parts on your pallet, depending on the size. Let dry for a day and sand your pallet one more time.

It should be ready for the next part, drawers !

Step 2: Drawers

I will explain the basics so you can adapt this method for your project, but as your drawers will fit to your own pallet, dimensions won't be the same as mine. There is a lot of different way to achieve this table. especialy on the drawers. I've made them as simple as possible (it can be even simplier !) but feel free to spend more time on this and you could have a really stunning finish product.

To begin, in this table, i've used 2 pieces of walnut on each sides of my drawers. I think it make a nice contrast. If you plan to do the same, it's your very first step for the drawers, as it will set the width of your drawer.

Cut 8 pieces and glue/nailed it as shown on the pictures. Most of my wood pieces for this table are used kinda raw. So i try to adapt it as much as possible to avoid cutting with power tools. It's mostly handmade so that almost anyone can build one.

For the drawers front, i've used the same process as the wooden earring from my other instructable, but you can use a plain board as well, up to you, be creative !

Measure the space avelable for your drawer and cut to dimension. Allow a 1/16 of an inch for each side to let it slide freely later.

So i've prepared my drawers, now lets deal with the drawer frame. At this point you need to decide the look of your table. do you want flush drawers? slightly inside? outside ?

For a flush version, mesure the distance between 2 opposite front drawer, if flush then it's the width of your pallet. Substract 2 inchees, then divide by 2, it will give you the total depth of 1 drawer. Measure the parts needed for your frame, and glue your drawers.

To make sure they are square, measure the diagonal of the drawers, they should be equal. Once dryed, glue and nail your drawer bottom, and you are pretty much done !

Make two sliders per drawers from scrap wood. Attached them as shown on the pictures, nail and glue, et voila !

For the top of the table, i've seen many different pallets, so mine got huge gaps between two slats, i decided to fill it with beech wood slats, leaving a tiny space between them. I like the vintage, boxy look it got.

Step 3: Final Result

Here is my final result. But feel free to share yours !! Many differents options for the legs. Mine are temporary, i want to find 4 latte legs to contrast with the rest of the table. but for the moment it's juste beech wood legs from scrap

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    39 Discussions

    Please be wary of pallets that have been used for chemical transportation. Nobody wants to inhale any particles of nastiness whilst sawing or sanding. Even if you seal them in with a varnish, it's still toxic.

    3 replies

    Thanks for the advice ! I got these one from a restaurant so i guess it's pretty safe, but nice comment for the others !

    I agree with Jaysum025, pallets may have been used for chemical transportation. Pallets used for garden supplies may seem safe, however if we are talking about EPAL/EUR pallets, no one will know what they have been used for since the pallets circulate for multi-purpose use. When i worked as a abattoir-worker at Danish Crown we some time had to return EUR pallets that was contaminated with paint and oil-residues. Even innocuous looking pallets may contain harmful compounds.

    What if you use a shellac? I got mine from a garden supply store and they seem pretty clean but at the same time I'd rather not run that risk...

    If I learn how to make one table like this, and I dont want it anymore, ¿can I sell it?

    1 reply

    one would be fine, but don't start a business out of my design please ;)

    Fantastic piece of work, very inspiring. Just so happens I know a bloke who fixes pallets, definately be having a go at one of these

    1 reply

    This is definitely the nicest coffee table I have seen on instructables that is made from a pallet. Did you know that many pallets are made from hard wood like oak and maple? You can make some nice things from materials like that.

    That said I think you are being a bit sly about the tools it takes to make your table. You obviously have a jointer and probably a thickness planer because there is no way you sanded the drawer front boards by hand to get the tight fitting surfaces and smooth fronts you ended up with. I think you have a complete shop or access to one. And that's fine - I have one too, and I read these instructables to get ideas. But don't lead on the people who don't have access to those resources.

    Anyway, if you mange to get some of those hardwood pallets, I will be very interested in what you do with them.

    2 replies

    actualy you're right. I'm studying woodworking since auguste so i've access to some pretty good machinery

    but as i said you can use rought bords to achieve this project.but thanks a lot for the nice comment !

    i only know the title in french but it's :
    "Traité d'ébénisterie" by Lucien Chanson. A masterpiece.

    from the streets, trash, or you can even buy one but it won't feet the purpose of ''free coffee table'' ;)

    Great table, and outstanding photography! What's the little orb light on the right side of the table? It looks cool :)

    1 reply

    Thank you a lot ! Actually the little orb is just a regular candle on a tiny glass. Long exposure photography made it glow even more