Pallet Table

Building with Pallets

We needed a table for our garden and after a couple of weeks of fruitless searching on free cycle, gumtree and local charity shops we were at a loss. A simple table to sit around when in the garden was all we needed and we were unwilling to pay over the odds for an ugly white, plastic monstrosity.

Then came the brainwave – why don’t we (we being my housemate and I) build one out of pallets?

A little bit of searching brought up a couple of items on how to turn pallets into furniture, including this Pinterest page, and this one blog outlining how to build a table. This long table formed the basis for what would become ours.

Firstly, you need to procure your pallets. Ours came from what we could find abandoned on the street. Skips are always a sure bet.

Preparing the pallet tabletop
Preparing the pallet tabletop

Then you need to take them apart. This can be laborious. If you have the patience, prizing them apart with hammer and chisel takes quite a while, but it keeps each plank whole. The required length was shorter for some so these can be cut to length straight from the pallet, removing some of the prizing apart. I’ve seen suggestions of using heavy-duty saws to cut through the nails, but I was working with a limited array of tools.

In order to establish a plan, the planks were laid side-by-side on the ground to meet our table-top size requirements. To make the table a little longer than one plank’s length-worth, a few planks were halved and included to increase its length by 50%. The half-planks were then arranged at alternate ends, each half alongside a full plank (as outlined in the image) so that latitudinal joins were supported by full planks alongside.

Thicker planks were then wood-glued and nailed across either end and across the two middle joins created by the half and full plank arrangement.

 What would become the pallet table legs
What would become the legs

With the table top created, a side skirt was then fixed along the outside, again, with wood-glue and nails. Not only does this make the table look more aesthetic by hiding some of the work underneath, but it also provides shear strength as the load acts against the thicker cross-section of the plank. In addition, the skirt will also provide extra support for the legs, rather than simply hammering a nail straight down through the table top.

The legs were created from the pallet spacers (the blocks that keep the planks apart, allowing fork lift trucks to pick them up). These could be taken straight from the pallet, sured up with a couple of extra nails and then attached to the table with wood-glue, and nails from above, through the table top, and from the side, through the skirt.

To finish, our new table was roughly sanded and varnished using a stain that protected it from the elements.

Although rough and quite crudely knocked together, I quite like look of it, and it has stood up well to the elements. If it involved more accurate measuring and more precise cutting tools, and perhaps some longer planks for the skirt, it would have made for a more attractive finished product – but perhaps with less of the character.

Update: sanded and with a coat of varnish.

The now finished pallet table
The now finished pallet table


[See also: pallet side-table]



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