I wanted to make a potting bench for my mom. She always used her picnic table to re-pot her plants, and the table finally wore out. I do plan to make her a new one, but I saw the need for a potting bench more pressing than a new picnic table. I saw a couple of examples here and got inspired. A huge shout-out goes to those other potting bench makers.
They are Here:
I've taken from them and added extra ideas of my own.
Step 1: Supplies
I used two of the three pallets I found, along with some scrap 2" x 4"'s I found, as well as scrap pieces of plywood (behind the bicycle) for the shelves. It's important to make sure the pallets are the same type, as some use 2" x 4"'s in the center and others are thinner and wider. I also used a box of 2 1/2" screws to hold it all together, and 1 1/4" screws for the pieces of shelving and the gap fillers for the top of the bench. I also added a various assortment of screw hooks to the shelves and supports.
Step 2: Tools
Tools needed for this job. Table saw was extremely helpful for making the filler boards, but optional. Circular saw, hammer, pry bar, pliers (to help remove nails), tape measure, pencil, clamp, and safety glasses ( a MUST). I also prefer two drills. One for a bit to drill pilot holes and the second with the screw tip bit. Not pictured is my palm sander to knock down all the edges.
Step 3: Step One
I took apart one pallet completely. I used the slats for fillers and also the center supports for the front legs and bottom shelf. I always remove every nail from each piece of wood as I try to avoid getting stabbed when going for a piece of wood at a later date.
Step 4: Next
I had to decide how the legs were going to attach and what kind of finish I was looking for. I had several ideas on how to conceal where the legs attached and what the front of the bench looks like. I settled down and decided it didn't matter how the face looked, as the cut-outs where the pallet jack lifted the pallets looked okay.
I drew a line and cut the other pallet after the center support. This left me with one 21" section for the top bench and a 19 1/2" section for the bottom shelf.
Step 5: And Then
Adding a center support to the bottom shelf gives me two complete shelves. The top larger than the bottom.
Step 6: Next
I cut down the strips from the pallet I took apart to fill in the gaps for the bench top. This is where my table saw helped, as every gap was different in size. I ripped them to make a closer fit.
Step 7: Front Legs
With the offset of different sized shelves I had to figure out how to best attach the legs. I decided to offset the front edges and leave the back edges even with each other. I attached the front legs first, with the bottom shelf attaching 6" off the ground and inset. The height of the bench felt most comfortable at 3 feet, so this is where I attached the top bench at, going flush to the outside.
Step 8: Back Legs
Back legs were from a couple of two-by-fours I had rummaged up. I set the top height to 6 feet. I made sure the bottom shelf attached at 6 inches off the ground and that the spacing between the two shelves were equidistant to each other. The pallets are about 5 inches each, plus 6 inches off the ground, subtracted from the overall height of the bench top of 32 inches, left me with a 16 inch storage space.
Step 9: Backstop
Added a back stop to the bench top. Good thing the first pallet had so many slats! About a 2 inch height seemed about right.
Step 10: Upright
Starting to look like a bench! added another 2"x4" to the top. I also toyed with the idea of adding screws to the back to hold shovels, pitchforks, etc., but nixed the idea as I didn't know if my mom planned to put it flush against a wall or leave it more out in the open. I liked the idea of hanging tools off the backside, but in the end she put the bench next to her greenhouse, flush to the wall.
Step 11: Top Shelf
Added the top shelf for smaller pots. Added various hooks after to hold smaller tools.
Step 12: Sanding
Used my palm sander and several sheets of paper to round down the edges. Who wants to get a splinter?
Step 13: Final Wood
Added bottom boards for more stability, then hauled it off to my mom's. While there, I came up with the idea of utilizing the gap in the top pallet half, so I cut another scrap of 1/4" plywood inside to allow storage bins to be placed. She had a couple with lids, which made it an ideal place to store gloves, an apron, and anything that needed to stay dry. Bins went in from both sides.
Step 14: Finished!
Here it is, being used within minutes of completion!