When we lived in Texas, we were desperately in need of a coffee table. I looked and looked and just couldn’t find what I liked in stores. So I turned to my handy-dandy… Pinterest! Thank goodness for Pinterest. I knew what I wanted. I wanted it to look like we pulled pallets apart and reused them, in a staggered, offset look. I wanted it to have pretty legs, but not be too tall, and not too short. I also wanted some storage areas where we could put away our laptops or books. I have a great habit of gathering images of what I like and showing them to Dale and he helps bring my ideas to life. Unfortunately, when we were planning on building this, Dale was super swamped with work. But that’s okay, because I can confidently say that I was the main muscle behind this project.
Literally… I used a ton of muscles. I was so sore after this project.
Unfortunately, I never expected to post this project on a blog, so we don’t have any in-progress pictures. But it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Things you will need if you want to build this:
- At least 6-8 pallets of varying sized planks. At least two of these need solid risers (in between the two sides of the planks)
- Two 2’x4′ pieces of 1/4″ plywood (or other thin, lightweight material)
- Crowbar, Hammer, or if you have it, a Sawzall, and a regular hand saw
- Circular saw
- Electric palm sander
- Wood glue
- 1 lb pack of 3″ annular thread underlayment nails
- Four leg attachment plates (typically found near the table legs in the wood working area of a hardware or home improvement store)
- Four legs
- Leather gloves, protective eye wear and hearing protection
- Some sort of protective finish (I recommend Minwax Polyacrylic) and a brush
Step one would be to lay out the plywood pieces. These will be our bases that we will glue the pallet pieces on. Now comes the most difficult, time-consuming, frustrating part of this entire project – unless you have a sawzall. You’re going to want to set up your pallets on top of a couple of saw horses. Now beat the crap out of them to get the planks off. Use your hammer, then use your crowbar to wedge the pieces apart and continue hammering. OR you can use your sawzall to cut through the nails in between the planks and the risers. OR you can just use your circular saw to cut down the sides of the risers, but this might result in all your pieces being relatively the same length, which won’t allow them to stagger. Be sure to set aside your risers. You will break a few planks on accident (or maybe out of frustration). Next you will want to sand down your planks and risers. Make sure they are nice and smooth, because you might end up putting your feet up on this wonderful little coffee table, and you definitely don’t want splinters. Next you will want to lay out your planks on the plywood pieces in a design that appeals to you. Then glue them! You’ll want to place some heavy objects on top of the planks and plywood to make sure the glue sets (since you can’t clamp them with regular clamps). Let them dry overnight or longer. Once they are dry, you will probably need to trim them down to be square, since some of your planks are longer than others and didn’t make a perfect rectangle of a tabletop. Use your circular saw for this.
Next, you will want put the risers in between your two new pallet planks. You’ll need three risers. If you weren’t able to get your risers out of your pallets, you can use any size solid common board that fit your needs. As you can see in the picture above, we marked where the risers would go, then one riser at a time, nailed the planks to the riser. We decided to use nails to keep it in the “pallet” theme. You can use screws if you want.
I’m not gonna lie, this was a difficult part. Once I put in one of the three risers, it was like they shifted and none of them lined up anymore. PLUS, the dang nails bend easily, so if you don’t hammer straight down, they get crooked. And trust me, your arms get tired hammering these puppies in. But I looked on the bright side and just hammered some of them down after they bent. It added to the look right? Be sure to get a nail in each plank to make sure they will always stay put. Now that that’s done, you get to pick out legs! Put on your leg plates where needed, preferably where the legs will be in about 3 inches (you don’t want to stub your toes with them being right on the edge of the planks).
Dale definitely thought these tall legs would work… But once we got them on, we knew we were wrong. (Please excuse the dog toys! Those silly boys!) Back to Home Depot, where we got shorter legs that work much better. Then I dragged it back out to the garage and set it up on the saw horse so it was completely off the ground.
I did my own DIY coffee/vinegar/steel wool stain on the legs to oxidize them so they look like the rest of the table (inspiration found here). Then I used my Polyacrylic and covered the top surface, the sides, and the legs. I didn’t worry about the inside pockets because of the plywood under the top layer of planks. If we spill something, which hopefully we never will, that plywood would stop anything from leaking through. We are still SUPER careful with drinks on this table, especially since the planks don’t all lay flat. You can sand the planks once more, but since we sanded it so well in the beginning, hopefully there are no splinters left. One thing I should mention is that the polyacrylic I use is water based, so if you were to set a cup of hot tea or coffee on it for an extended period of time, it will ruin the protective finish (i.e. rings in the finish). Another wonderful reason why I use this instead of another urethane, especially on pallet wood, is because it doesn’t add any color to the wood. Any other urethane, lacquer or shellac will add a reddish or yellowish color to the wood, which is fine if the wood has been stained, but on bare wood or pallet woods, where you want to keep the rustic/worn look, you’ll want something clear. I love this stuff and swear I will never use anything other than it! I applied two coats with no sanding in between. I let it dry completely over a 24 hour period then pulled it back inside to enjoy our new coffee table.
Isn’t this thing wonderful? I’m sad to admit that once I made this, our dinners in front of the TV increased tremendously. Oh well. BUT I can say that after hours and hours and hours of a lot of work, this is probably the one piece of furniture that I’m most proud of.