Pallet Wood Workbenches

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Introduction: Pallet Wood Workbenches

About: I have an unhealthy relationship with pallet wood. I make fast paced and entertaining build videos on my YouTube channel that are made for everyone, but with the ultimate goal to get the younger generations ...

These workbenches were made 100% from pallet wood. The tops are 36" x 40" x 2" thick, all laminated from pallet slats. The main frame is fabricated from 3.5" x 2.5" pallet runners and 1.5" thick pallet slats, all from a super heavy duty pallet. Only thing I had to purchase for this project was 8 locking casters!

Step 1: Materials & Tools

Materials:

> (21) Pallets

> Wood glue http://amzn.to/2kID2jI

> Misc screws

> 4" Casters https://amzn.to/2y1DrVM

Tools:

> Circular saw http://amzn.to/2qr6ZnM

> Miter saw http://amzn.to/2j614UM

> Metal detector http://amzn.to/2rtto8e

> Hammer http://amzn.to/2oDRFEj

> Table saw http://amzn.to/2j4bvVU

> Thickness planer http://amzn.to/2j4ISuI

> Pipe clamps http://amzn.to/2jkLLbO

> Biscuit joiner http://amzn.to/2ifDaEQ

> Speed square http://amzn.to/2C7Vqaa

> Band saw http://amzn.to/2j4auNu

> Drill press http://amzn.to/2jgpN57

> Drill and driver http://amzn.to/2wy5wSZ

> Rubber mallet http://amzn.to/2oJDIrf

> Pocket hole jig http://amzn.to/2j68JT0

> Random orbital sander http://amzn.to/2jrwsJC

Step 2: Pallet Materials

My lumberyard: 17 regular pallets, 2 large pallets.

And 2 massive pallets that I used for the legs and frame of the bench (the Element is always hungry for more lumber).

I disassemble my pallets by cutting the runners off of both ends. This eliminates the nails on both ends of the slats as well as the crappy cracked wood that is usually on the ends. Then it's just a little bit of work with the hammer/pry-bar/elbow grease to remove them from the center runner.

Step 3: Rough Milling the Pallet Wood

All piece were cut to rough length - 37" since I wanted the final width of the benchtop to be 36".

This became really repetitive really quick.

I use a metal detector to check all the slats for nails and set those aside that don't pass the TSA screening.

The fun part is removing the nails...... It typically just takes a hammer, but for any cutoff nails I just use a nail set to coax them out of the slats.

At this point, any wide slats (~6") are split in half.

Step 4: Bench Top Glue-Up

I split the stack into thin, medium, and thick and planed them all down until each pile was smooth.

Then the whole stack is run through the table saw to get them down to 2-1/2" wide (I'm shooting for a 2" thick benchtop).

All of the slats are then divided into 12' sections for glueup.

Lots of glue. That little bottle had to be refilled from my gallon jug 4 times during this process.

Both benchtops in the clamps and set to dry for the night. I left glue out between each 12" section (you'll see why in the next step) and just clamped everything together in one big slab.

Step 5: Flattening & Final Glue-Up

After unclamping, each 12" section is just wide enough to fit through my planer. At this point, I bring it down to it's 2" finished thickness.

This is when it gets exciting.

Each 12" section is cut down parallel for the next glue-up.

And each one is cut down to the 36" finished length.

I use biscuits to join each section of the top together. This holds them all in the right positions during clamping and reinforces the joint.

The biscuit glue-up, just add a little honey.

Step 6: Milling Lumber for Frame

While that behemoth is drying, I start with the legs and frame. These massive 3.5" x 2.5" pallet runners are cut down to length for the legs. I decided to leave these rough (because I'm a savage like that).

These thick slats are planed down to consistent thickness to use on the frame.

This jig is used as an alternative to a jointer. I get one side straight and then rip all of these frame pieces down to 3" wide.

Step 7: Dovetail Leg Joints

I sketch out some giant dovetails to use as a connection joint on one side of the frame.

These are cut out on the bandsaw and I use the first one as a template to trace on the other pieces.

The dovetails are then transferred to the legs.

And the pockets are bored out using a forstner bit.

Then each is fine tuned with some hammer and chisel work.

Not a bad result for my first ever dovetails (go big or go home, as they say).

I hide all of the fasteners on the inside of the workbench frame. These hold the dovetails in place while the glue in the joints dry.

Step 8: Dado Leg Joints

For the connection going the other direction, I decided to use a dado joint. This is a process similar to what you would see in timber-frame or deck construction.

I use my circular saw and speed square to cut to the left and right lines, then free hand the cuts in between those two points.

I knockout the waste with a hammer and fine-tune the cut with a chisel.

The final frame attachment is done similar to the dovetails - glue and hidden screws through the inside of the frame.

Step 9: Casters & Attaching Bench Top

Before flipping the frame for the workbench over, I attach these heavy-duty 4" locking casters. I pre-drill before attaching the screws to prevent the end grain from splitting.

To attach the top, I decided to go with pocket holes. I would usually avoid this with a finished table, but it worked perfect for a workbench.

Each runner got 3 screws through it into the top. It really pulled everything together.

Then just sand through the grits and they're all done and ready to use! (even though I don't want to beat them up now)

Step 10: Glamour Shots

A final shot of all the different woods in the benchtop - poplar, pine, white oak, red oak, maple, and cherry!

After the build video was done, I added some slats across the bottom supports for some storage under the benches. I also decided upon a finish - 2 part epoxy. The epoxy soaks into the surface to give me a nice color & a nice hard surface, while also filling in the few remaining nail holes left behind on the pallet wood.

In case you missed it up top, I'll drop the link down here too for the full build video, enjoy!

Tables and Desks Contest 2016

Third Prize in the
Tables and Desks Contest 2016

Glue Challenge 2016

Runner Up in the
Glue Challenge 2016

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    14 Discussions

    Nice work. The dado/dovetail joints are a nice touch. I like the oversize then cutting/plaining to size. Good technique and teaching for new woodworkers.

    I notice you use an Estwing 6 oz framing hammer - the only one I use. Mine is going on 40 years. My second, because I lost the first one when it was a mere 7 years old.

    You do beautiful work Jackman.

    Very good ible thanks for the beautiful build

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    user
    Clay42

    1 year ago

    WOW. JackMan, you just got added to my Hero List!

    That is one gorgeous build! Thanks for putting this Instructable together!

    1 reply
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    user
    gm280

    1 year ago

    I like your build. In fact I did something very similar but used standard 2 X 4's for the top. I cut them down a bit and glued them up on end to make a 16' bench top. But I interleaved the wood to make one 16 foot section. If you would have interleaved the wood, you would not have had any butt joins in the middle of the table. But it did turn out very nice. Thumbs Up!

    3 replies

    The way that he made it, it looks like it allows for the table to be two separate tables (each has 4 casters) in case you needed it. For example: setting up a chop saw station on one table and a place to work on the second, etc. I couldn't see it, but I was wondering if he has a quick release set-up on it or if it's just held together with screws.

    I was wondering how often he has to sharpen or change his blades in his planer. :)

    You got it! I move around a lot so I need the flexibility and portability. The 2 tables aren't held together at all, the locking casters do a good job holding them in place.

    And my planer blades are forever dull thanks to projects like this :D

    A 16' table, that's insane!! haha

    These are 2 separate tables for portability and adaptability.

    Even my wife commented on how cool these turned out. I'm planning on giving this a shot when I finally get a planer. Too cool not to try out!

    1 reply

    Great use of recycled materials. I can usually get pallets for free from the building supply shop down the road from my house. Beautiful work, you are a true craftsman.

    Looks great!!

    This really turned out awesome! I made a coffee table with a top like that and the final product is pretty cool. Thanks for sharing