DIY Pallet Coffee Table
My friend, Su, emailed me one day asking if I could help her build a coffee table. She had been browsing around sites that offered a variety of projects and found WonderForest. A blog by a young designer/artist/entrepreneur named Dana. She had posted a DIY coffee table project made from scrap pallets she found nearby. This seemed to be the best solution to a serious lack of surface space for her living room. It also helps that she works for a large service print company that has a variety of pallets to choose from. So, off we set to building a table.
What you need
First and foremost for those who dont have a shop laying around waiting to be used. Here is a list of materials and tools needed to finish the project.
- Flatbar (helpful and cleaner than a hammer with stubborn nails)
- Nails (short and long, new ones – dont use the old ones)
- Sandpaper (I used 60, 100, and 150)
- Saw (in case you need to cut things down)
- Pen/pencil/paper (dont laugh, you would be surprised)
- Stain (your table, your poison)
- Clean towels, nitrile gloves, brushes or sponges (for stain)
- T-Square (helpful but not necessary)
- Power sander (again stupid helpful but if you have arms like Popeye you’ll be fine)
Since Su had a good number of pallets to choose from, she was able to get fairly decent looking newer ones. She also didn’t want to get something overbearing and cumbersome, so she chose two at half size. Once we got the wood into the shop we started tossing around ideas about how best to making her new table.
There were a few noticeable concerns. Like the layout of the boards. On a normal pallet they run the full length of the pallet, but the shorter half sized ones run side to side and have additional support boards underneath running long ways. So we simply built our design from this and kept the direction of the wood. Another concern was the wood blocks instead of solid boards for bases. We considered just using them to separate the top from the magazine shelf, but they were all too oddly shaped. Luckily, I have extra 2×4’s laying around to cut down and fill in the missing parts to match the original design posted to The Wonder Forest.
After a bit, I thought the design could use a little bit better stability and changed the location of the legs. The plan was to inset them flush to the edges and up to the underside of the top surface. They are also going to be cut into the magazine shelf on the outside of the 2×4 cross pieces. That may not be clear now, but will make sense later when finished. You may be able to see the idea in one of the quick sketches I drew out.
Su was actually happy with the sketch above and we went to town disassembling the pallets. They came apart fairly easy, but at the same time took a little finess. The wood was so soft and light, if you pulled too hard on the existing nails, they would either go right through the wood, or the flatbar would crack it in half.
We got all the wood pulled from each of the pallets, the nails removed and the extra bits of wood blocks, that we decided to completely ditch, cleared away and stacked accordingly.
After which, we lined them out in a way that would best close the gaps between the boards. Honestly, it didn’t really matter in the end separating them out, cause we ended up picking and choosing the best ones for the top…the rest got bottom bunk. Fortunately the pallets were built fairly close and didn’t need to much mix and matching to get them nice and tight.