DIY – Pallet Coffee Table Part 1

Posted on September 16th, 2012 by Anthony

After having my wife bother me for the past two months about getting a new coffee table, I finally caved in! In all honesty the cheap Ikea Lack coffee table isn't cutting it anymore. It worked well in my bachelor apartment but now... ummm not so much. So we looked at a few places but nothing really caught our attention we then went to Crate & Barrel. Now for those of you guys who don't know what Crate & Barrel is I'll warn you before hand, this is NOT and I repeat not a place to take your significant other if you're on a budget. Honestly we've picked up a few things here and there from this place but really it so over priced. The last thing we picked up was our wine rack from these guys. It looked like a nice piece and you know what I don't mind spending money if its built right. But when we got it the whole "made in china" really made me want to puke. I just dropped a good chunk of change on a piece of furniture that really cost less than one tenth to fabricate.

Anyway so we went we saw this really nice coffee table it had the rustic look a la "barn yard" like and I'm thinking to myself, "oh man here we go again... smile don't make it seem like it looks nice walk the other way.. just walk the other way". Of course my wife liked the piece but there was no way spending that kind of money. We go home and I started thinking screw that I'm building my own. So looking up at a few idea I came across this pallet furniture ideas off pintrest immediately I'm hooked this is exactly the same "look and feel" we're going for! Screw you Crate & Barrel! Screw You!

Pallet Coffee Table Tutorial

Before you start this project it is important to know where you're getting your pallets. For example get pallets from a company supplying materials or raw goods such as flooring, machine equipment or parts. Stay away from chemical companies as you don't want those pallets, who knows what they were exposed to.

Another thing when you're getting your pallet make sure you check how it was treated. Newer regulations require pallet manufacturers in Canada and the US to treat the wood before shipping. This can be by chemicals or by heat. The HT on the above board means it's been heat treated, or kiln dried. This is the safer kind. If the boards are unmarked, it may be safe but there's also a strong chance it's been chemically treated, which makes them dangerous.

Also just remember to use common sense take a pass on the pallet if it:

  1. smells
  2. looks oily
  3. is stained
  4. is extra heavy
  5. looks old and rotting
  6. has too many nails (not worth the hassle)

Always be safe and scrub the wood down with bleach and soapy water. Pallet wood requires LOTS of work, so be safe! We wore gloves when picking through and handling our pallets.

Once you've picked your pallets make sure they align well. If you're going to stack them make sure they stack well.

If pallets are split or coming apart secure parts of the pallet with nails or screws. But if the split isn't too bad you can leave them this will give it the "rustic" feel.

With a medium grade sand paper, sand the surfaces of the pallets to prep them for stain. Make sure you sand them well you don't want any splinters or anything. At this point take your time and don't rush the sanding part.

Once you've finished sanding and making sure all the edges are smooth. Wipe off all dust (I used my shop vac and a cloth)

Now start staining the pallets with your desired stain color. Before you start staining please ensure your area is well ventilated and read the warning label! I used a Minwax food finish, it seems this is one of the only brands that Home Depot, Lowe's or Totem Building Supplies have. Keep in mind that most pallets are made with a variety of wood. The stain will look different on each piece and each pallet. Make sure to wipe off the extra stain in order for it to dry.

Now once you've stained the pallet wait 15 minutes and wipe off any access stains. Make sure you read the instructions on the can. I let them dry over night.

While the pallets were drying I was trying to figure out a way to attach them there isn't much room between pallets so I was thinking some sort of fixture on the exterior. After a number of trips trying to figure out I came across fencing hardware. This is what I bought:

  1. 8 x Medium Strap Tie 9"
  2. 8 x Angle 3"

Of course this will vary for everyone because your pallets will vary. I've read online that some people have angle the screws but really wanted a cleaner look since I'm spending time on this project I want it looking right. Oh btw to keep that "rustic" look I'm spray painting them flat black and using black screws.

While the pallets were drying I figured I might as well make some legs for the table. This is entirely optional I've seen people use casters on the bottom of the table. While this is fine I couldn't find any old casters used in farms and such. So I decided to make legs and also casters are expensive. While I was picking my pallets, there were some extra pallet beams left over so I picked those up. ( I lucked out)

Well that's all I've got for now. So far I've spent 1 weekend, $30 on supplies and a total of 8 - 10 man hours. I'm not counting the hours while the pallets were drying because I did other stuff during that time. (drank beer and watched football). Part two will be putting the table together and finished product.

Disclaimer: I'm not way in any shape or form an expert carpenter. The stuff I've learned is mostly self taught and countless hours online reading up. If you wish to tackle any of the projects I've listed in my DIY its your responsibility to research and find out what works.