Pallets can be used in so many ways for woodworking projects. You can find pallets for pretty cheap or even free. I found mine by searching for them on the Facebook marketplace, where I saw a local company giving them away. In this project, I use a mix of pallet wood and wood I bought from a hardware store to build a cool coffee table; And I can tell you this is not hard to make since I am quite new to woodworking and this is the first thing I have ever built. You just need to have some patience.
Step 1: Materials and Tools
- (2 to 3) Pallets (depends on how big you want to make it)
- 1/2 inch thick MDF board(Length and Width are up to you)
- (1) 8 foot long 1x4
- (3 to 4) 8 foot 2x4 (depends on how tall you want it)
- Wood Glue
- Small finishing nails
- Circular saw
- Miter saw
- Table saw
Depending on what tools you do have, you may not need all of the ones listed. As long as you can accomplish the future steps using what you have.
Step 2: Break Down the Pallet
The method that worked best for me was to just use a jigsaw and cut the slats where they weren't nailed down. You don't need the full length of the slat for this project. We only need a bunch of short pieces. You can use a jigsaw, circular saw, hand saw, or a sawzall to cut out the pieces you need for the table pattern.
Step 3: Make the Slat Pieces
After cutting the pieces from the pallet, you can choose to leave them the way they are or, if you have a planer, you can shave them all down to the same thickness. I went with the planer, which saved me a lot of time in the sanding process. After using the planer, I used a miter saw to cut all the pieces to the same length. This is important if you want all the pieces to come together without having gaps.
Step 4: Cut MDF Down to Size
I had to buy a 4' by 8' slab of MDF since everything else was too small. With a circular saw, I cut this into 3 equally-sized pieces, using one piece to build the table top. You can do this, or buy smaller, pre-cut boards that are the size you would like your table to be.
Step 5: Glue Pieces to MDF
Using the MDF board makes the table top a lot more sturdy as opposed to just using the thin slats. Use the pieces to experiment with different patterns so you can determine what you like before gluing anything down. After you have decided what looks best for you, begin gluing the pieces down carefully. Allow the outer pieces to overhang the MDF; We will cut this off later. As the glue dries make sure all the pieces stay as flat as possible.
Step 6: Cut Excess
Now we can trim off the extra wood overhanging the MDF. Flip the whole piece over so the MDF is on top. I used a straight board and clamped it down to the MDF; I used this as a guide for my circular saw to achieve a straight cut along the table sides.
Step 7: Build a Border
I didn't like the look of the MDF, so to cover it up, I used the 1x4 to build a square frame to fit around the outside of my table . Cut your 1x4 into 2 pieces, where 1 will be for both length sides, and the other will be for both width sides of the table. Now, cut both boards lengthwise to make 4 total pieces(each wide enough to cover the table sides). Make 45 degree cuts at all the ends so they come together to make a square. With each piece, glue it to the appropriate side of the table and hammer it down with some finishing nails to keep it in place while the glue cures.
Step 8: Leg Assemblies
I used the 2x4 boards to make 2 rectangular-frame type leg assemblies for my table. You can explore other ideas to find what you like most; but this was fast and easy for me to build. The measurements for each piece of these assemblies depends on how big your table is, and how tall you want your table to be.
Step 9: Sanding
At this point, the table top is most likely not a smooth, flat surface. My slat pieces warped some, and the border I made wasn't completely flush with the table. You might prefer this look, but since I was going for a smooth and even surface, I had to sand all the imperfections down. I sanded the table top, the sides, and the leg assemblies to make everything smooth and flat. I also chose to sand down the edges and corners of the table top.
Step 10: Finishing
Now, you can decide whether you would like use some type of finish for your table or if you would like to leave it the way it is. I wanted to keep everything looking natural as well as give everything a better feel, so I went with a wax finish. This is the last step, so let everything dry and enjoy your pallet coffee table.