Recycled Pallet End Table

Introduction: Recycled Pallet End Table

About: I am a Senior in college studying Mechanical Engineering. My interests include woodworking, 3D printing, electronics and building computers

Needed to build some end tables for my couch so decided to see what i could do with some pallets i had laying around. The cost for this project was around $6 for screws i had to buy. Now lets get started!!

- 2 Pallets (helps if they are in decent shape and not to beat up but almost any will work)
- 1" Wood Screws (use bigger screws if your pallets are thicker, mine ranged from 1/2"-3/4" thick so 1" worked great)
- Wood glue
- 1 - 1/2" nails for finish nailer

- Hammer
- Punch
- Reciprocating saw
- Chop saw
- Table saw
- Finish nailer
- Drill
- Belt Sander and/or random orbit sander
- Clamps
- Chisels
- Tape Measure
- Speed square

Step 1: Disassemble Pallets

First we will start by taking the  pallets apart, to do this we will use the reciprocating saw to cut the nails off between the top boards of the pallet and the 2x4

To remove the head of the nail from the top board, use a punch to pound it out enough to use a hammer to pull it out the rest of the way.

Use this process to take apart both of the pallets. You will want to make sure there is not any random metal or rocks embedded in the wood so you dont hit it when cutting them. Keep all of the wood at this point unless it is badly damaged or rotten

Step 2: Cutting to Rough Size

We will now cut the boards to be used for the top and the shelf.

Depending on the length and width of your pallet boards it may take different amounts of boards. mine were 3.5" wide by around 38" long. So i cut a 21" section and a 15" section out of each board using a chop saw, if your boards are longer you could get 2 21" sections or 3 15" sections. This will use 7 boards, so you have 7 of each length.

Now you will need to rip all of the boards to get a  clean edge on one side. Just cut enough off to get a clean edge the whole length of the board.

You can set 2 of the 15" section off to the side, these will be used later on

Now set the table saw to 3" and rip down the rest of the boards

Step 3: Time to Glue

We will now glue together the top and the shelf

Start by laying out the 21" boards to see how they sit flush together, try to get them as flush and flat as possible because this will cut down on the work needed at steps later on.

Place glue on one face of all the joints to be glued, snug up all of the boards and clamp them tight, make sure the boards do not bow up in the middle fro the clamps, if this happens loosen the clamps and push down in the center while tightening. Now place in the sun if its nice out to speed up the drying.

Repeat this process for the 15" boards

Step 4: Cutting Boards for Legs

One of my pallets had boards that were 42" long so this is what i used for the legs. If your boards are not as long you can make the table not as tall or use more boards to get the desired length.

Since my boards were around 42" long i cut them in half  so they were a hair over 21" long. I then stacked 4 boards at a time and cut the uncut end so give them a finished length of 21"

You will also need 2 boards that are around 15" long, i cut mine from another pallet board, but if you have some broken pieces around this length those would work great.

You want to clean up one edge of all of the boards like we did when first cutting the boards for the top and shelf.

Take 4 boards and rip them to 1.75"
We will now use the two boards we set aside when making the shelf and rip them to 1.75" also, now cut these two boards to 13" long with the chop saw

Now take the other 4  boards and rip them to 2.5"
Also rip the two boards or single board you just found and rip it to 2.5" also

Find a good piece of 2x4 from one of the pallets, we will use this to make the corner pieces that will hold the shelf and top

I drew lines where the cut off nails were still sticking into the wood so i wouldnt cut into them.

Use a speed square to drawn a triangle 1.75" long on the sides like shown in the picture. Use the chop saw to cut the piece.
Now flip the piece over and cut a triangle from the opposite side.
You will now be left with a triangle on the end of the board. draw another triangle on the end of board like shown in the picture
Cut off the rest of the angled end so you have a flat end to start on again

Repeat this process till you have 8 of the triangle pieces

Step 5: Assemble the Legs

I first lightly sanded all of the boards to smooth them up a bit, if your going for a more rustic look you dont need to sand them.
You will need the finish nailer and glue for this step

We are now going to assemble the legs. you will need a 2.5" board and a 1.75" board.
Run a small line of glue down the edge of the 1.75" board place the 2.5" board on top of it aligning the edges together. No start at one end and nail them together every 4 inches or so, keep aligning the boards as you move down so they have a straight sharp edge.

Now take one of the triangle blocks and glue it flush with the top of the leg, nail it from the outside of the leg to hold it in place
Measure 6 inches from the bottom and make a mark, this is where the bottom block will be glued to hold the shelf.

Repeat this process for the other 3 legs

Step 6: Assemble Sides

We will now assemble sets of 2 legs into sides.

Take two of the legs and 1 of the 13" pieces cut earlier
Place the 13" piece between the two bottom triangles and predrill a screw hole.
Once predrilled place some glue on the triangle and screw the 13" piece into place on each side. You can also finish nail it in to add extra support.

Now measure the distance from the outside of one leg to the outside of the other. This will give you the distance to cut one of the 15" boards for the top

Once you have the board cut, line up the corner to the top of the leg, predrill this hole. now line up the other end with the other leg and predrill that hole.
Place glue on the top of the legs and screw in one of the sides. Now for the other side you may have to stretch the legs a bit to get it to line up again. after you have them both screwed in place you can finish nail it to add more support

Now repeat this for the other side assembly
Now would be a good time to take the random orbit sander with some 100 grit paper and put a slight chamfer on all of the edges of the leg assemblys. Make sure to get the bottom of each leg good, this will help prevent the wood from splitting

Step 7: Sanding the Top

By now the glue should have dried on the top and the shelf, if it is not dry yet wait a little while longer. you want to make sure they are firmly glued.

Start by clamping the top or shelf to a work bench and using a chisel to remove dried glue globs from both sides.
Now use a belt sander with a 50 grit belt to begin with. Work in a pattern from corner to corner of the work piece. this helps remove the differences between the edges of the glued boards. you will want to do it from each of the four corners.
Once it is relatively smooth you can start sanding parallel to the boards with the 50 grit still. When you cant see any of your corner to  lines you can move to an 80-100 grit belt and sand parallel to the boards till there arent any deep grooves left from the 50 grit.

You need to do this for both sides of each the shelf and the top.

Step 8: Cutting Top and Shelf to Size

Now it is time to cut the top and shelf to the correct size
Adjust the table saw to cut enough off one end so it has a clean edge. Do this for two ends that are right next to each other
Do this for both the top and shelf.

For cutting the top to final size, set the table saw to 19" and cut so the clean cut edges are against the fence.
For cutting the shelf to final size, set the table saw to 13" and cut so the clean cut edges are against the fence.

The final sizes for the top are 19"x19" and the shelf 13"x13"

Step 9: Finish Sanding the Top and Shelf

Now take the random orbit sander with 120grit paper and sand just the top side of the shelf and top. Also sand a slight chamfer on all the edges of the top and shelf.
You can use a finer grit if you want a smoother top, it is all on personal preference. I find that 120 grit sand is plenty smooth for me

Step 10: Attach Top and Shelf

Use a clamp to secure the shelf to the bottom runners on the leg assemblys. Run the shelf so the wood is perpendicular to the runner. Predrill around 4 or 5 holes being careful not to drill through the top of the shelf. Now use the 1" screws to attach the shelf.
Repeat this to attach the other leg assembly to the other side.

Now to attach the top, place the top so your good finished top is facing down. Set the leg assembly on top and roughly center it. Make sure the top boards are running perpendicular to the runners on the legs.
Measure about 2.25" in from the corner on one side of legs, this distance may be slightly different depending on the thickness of your pallets, just adjust accordingly.
Predrill along the runner into the top and screw in the one side.
Now go to the other side and center this side as well. You may have to tweek it a bit to make sure it has the same spacing as all the other sides, this will help the table to be square when you stand it up. Predrill and screw that side in when you are satisfied that it is centered.

Step 11: Top Trim

We are going to add some trim around the top to give it a finished look, i am sorry for not havin gvery many pictures of this step, my camera had died. I will do my best to explain it.

First you will want to rip down a couple of boards to 2"
Take one of the boards and cut a 45 degree on the end perpendicular to the length of the board. Now place the inside edge of the 45 to the outside of the leg and mark the other end of the trim piece at the out side of the other leg. You now need to cut another 45 on the end you just marked. Repeat this process to get a piece for each side, you can test fit the pieces and if they dont fit quite right you can trim a hair off if they are to long.
This is a pretty hard to get your corners to line up exactly and takes some experience. also my instructions arent very good. if you need any clarification please leave a comment and i will do my best to answer it.

Your end table is now finished and ready to be stained. I used a cherry stain to get a little bit of a darker tint, but depending on what type of wood your pallets are you might want something darker or lighter. I wiped them down first with a cheese cloth then applied a coat of stain then wiped with a rag. You can apply more coats waiting for each coat to dry inbetween to get a desired color.

You now have a good looking end table that hardly cost you anything.
Thanks for reading my instructable!

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    6 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Nice looking table in the finish. I'll do something like this next.
    Save yourself a lot of problems by taking all the nails out completely rather than cutting off with the hacksaw when breaking up the pallet. Same amount of work for a better result and less risk of tool damage when cutting the boards.


    5 years ago on Step 11

    Great way to re-purpose pallets. Looks nice and sturdy. Thanks!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    Totally building a couple of these this weekend. I'm going to modify it a bit and add a lamp to it. I'll post pictures when I'm done!


    Reply 6 years ago on Introduction

    thank you, im glad you like it!!


    6 years ago

    Great ibble! Great classic design.