Pallet furniture, table, pile of pallets
Dave Boyt
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Pallet furniture is gaining in popularity as a great way to recycle wood for unique building projects of all sorts. Even with limited space, a few tools and modest experience, it is possible to build impressive projects. Why not give it a try? Here are instructions for a pallet table, ideal for a workbench, and for a frame. For other ideas, do a web search for “pallet furniture,” or search Pinterest for photos of projects. You may just find a hobby that will pay for itself.

This DIY project is a pallet table that can serve as a workbench for other projects. It will take three pallets to build. For the tabletop, select one of your best pallets.

Pallet Furniture Materials List:

(3) pallets (or enough for 30 deck boards)

40) 1-1/4-inch deck screws

(8) 2-1/2-inch deck screws

(4) pieces of 3/8-inch or 1/2-inch plywood 20 by 24 inches

(64) 1-inch #4 wood screws

(24) 2-inch (6d) nails (Note: use salvaged nails, if possible)

Legs

To make the legs, cut eight deck boards (salvaged from another pallet) the desired table height. I used 32 inches for this table. You may need to trim the ends of the pallet to get the legs to fit straight. For fasteners, use 1-1/4-inch deck screws and pre-drill the board with a drill bit slightly larger than the screw so that it pulls the two pieces of wood together without splitting them. Drive the screws in so the head is just flush with the wood. Using a carpenter’s square to get the legs square to the top, attach one piece to the face of the stringer with three screws in a vertical line. This will avoid splitting as the wood dries. Screw a second leg board to the edge of the first one (making an “L” shape) with four evenly spaced screws and two screws in the end of the stringer. Repeat with the other three legs.

Braces

Cut eight braces out of deck boards, each 21 inches with a 45-degree angle at each end.  Pre-drill and attach the braces to the legs with one screw at each end. Use 2-1/2-inch deck screws where you toe-screw the brace to the edge of a leg.

Top

Now, you are ready to stand the table upright and admire your work. There are several options for the top. The quickest and easiest is to cut a piece of 1/2-inch plywood to the proper size and nail it in place. But if you do that, you will lose the character of the pallet wood. The other option is to carefully cut deck boards to fill in the gaps. This can be tricky, because the gap between the boards may vary as much as 3/4-inch from one end to the other, so you will have to measure both ends and free-hand rip the board to make it fit. Here’s an old woodworker’s tip: start with the widest gap. That way, if you the board wrong, you can trim it down to the next smaller gap. One nail (with the board pre-drilled) on each end will do the trick.  When all the boards are in place, trim them even.

Drawers

The opening between the top and bottom deck boards is a natural place to put in two drawers. Start out making the bottom drawer supports. From the pallet I removed two of the bottom boards, cut them to length, and screwed them to the bottom of the stringers to give the drawer an even surface to ride on.

Cut 1/2-inch thick plywood to match the opening. For these drawers, 22 inches by 17-1/2 inches worked out perfectly. Rip the sides and back to the desired width. This would be the height of the opening, minus 3/4 inches (assuming 1/2-inch thick plywood). This leaves a 1/8-inch gap, giving the drawer a little “wiggle room” so it can slide easily.

Cut the side and end pieces to the length of the drawer and assemble them to match the size of the plywood. For this, you may wish to use 1-inch #4 wood screws, since they have a small head that can easily counter-sink flush with the plywood. The drawer will be stronger if you fit the ends between the sides so that the screws don’t pull out when you open the drawer.  Attach the plywood to the frame with 1-inch #4 wood screws.

There are many ways to make drawer pulls. Various wooden knobs are available at most hardware stores, or you can easily make your own. I opted for overlapping strips of wood.

That’s all there is to it!  Whether you use the table for dining or as a workbench, it is stout enough to hold just about anything you put on it. It would be a great way to display produce at a roadside stand or farmer’s market.

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