Wednesday, March 16

How to Make a Pallet Coffee Table with The Weegie Kitchen

Mairi is a full-time PhD researcher who blogs over at The Weegie Kitchen to escape academic life. She’s a self-confessed junk food addict whose one true talent in life lies solely in her roast potatoes. Her blog has a host of easy recipes which can be whipped up after a long day in the office.

Unless you've been living under a rock for the last 2 years (or you don't have a Pinterest account) you'll know that when it comes to up-cycling, pallets are the numero uno material to work with. From beds to deck chairs, porch swings and vertical herb planters, it seems there nothing we can't do with a pallet.

I'd been on the hunt for a new coffee table for some time before I decided to make one. I wanted something durable and functional and not simply a nice piece of furniture that required a coaster every time I set a mug down. I wanted to be able to sit on my coffee table if the occasion arose and not worry about scuffing it with my shoes when I put my feet up. Most importantly I wanted a BIG coffee table. These specs proved too difficult and far too expensive for the high street so I made it, out of 2 wooden pallets found at the back of an industrial estate in Govan. I now have a 1 metre squared coffee table so sturdy I can stand on it, so cheap I couldn't care less if it ends up scuffed, scorched and marked and so full of character that it's now my absolute favourite item of furniture.

Why the fuss you ask? Well wooden pallets are typically used to transport and handle heavy loads thus the perfect material to get crafty with. Furthermore, less materials in landfill and more materials being re-used into beautiful furniture is a bandwagon I'm happy to get on board with.

If you fancy a pallet coffee table, here's my How to Guide on making your very own. 

You will need 

All of these items can be purchased from a DIY or hardware store, I purchased all these materials for about £26 from a DIY store in the Glasgow Barras. However, half the battle is sourcing the pallets. Your best bet it to try reclamation yards but failing that, try skip-diving or check out industrial estates. Worst case scenario you can always buy them for between £5-£10 per pallet.

  • 2 Wooden pallets 
  • Pack of 4 plated castors + 16 screws to fit them (unless supplied) 
  • Wood stain (in your preferred colour) 
  • 2 inch angled paintbrush 
  • Multi-purpose white wood filler + small spatula for application 
  • Several sheets of medium or coarse sandpaper 
  • Drill / Electric Screwdriver 
  • Hammer 
  • Saw 
  • 500ml bottle of methylated spirit + rag 
  • Pencil 
  • Old sheets (to protect your floor & furniture from dust) 
  • Nails 
This can be completed in 1 weekend but I recommend spreading it out over 2.

Step 1.

The pallet in the best condition (Pallet 1) will form the coffee table and the slats from Pallet 2 will be used to make a shelf underneath. If you prefer, you can skip the shelf if you can't find 2 pallets or if you want to make the table faster.

Start by removing all nails or splinters from Pallet 1 then sand the entire pallet. You may need several sheets of sandpaper to ensure a smooth and even finish. If you find sanding uncomfortable or sore on your hands then wear gardening gloves. Just remember to cover your furniture and floor with old sheets to protect them if you can't work outdoors or in the garage. 

Pallet 1 will form the coffee table
Step 2.

Remove the top slats from Pallet 2 by prising them apart with the prongs of a hammer but be careful not to split or break any of the slats. 

Remove the slats from Pallet 2 for the shelf
Turn Pallet 1 upside down and lay the individual slats from Pallet 2 across the base at equal intervals. This will form the shelf of your coffee table. If the individual slats need to be cut to size to fit Pallet 1 then mark them with a pencil and saw the excess off. Ensure there is no overhang.

Now remove any nails and large splinters from each slat then sand the surface and edges until smooth. 

Sand the slats until smooth 
Step 3.

Using wood-filler and a small spatula, fill in any holes on the surface and sides of Pallet 1 and then on the individual slats. These will mostly be nail holes but you should also fill in areas where the wood has split. 

Fill in holes and cracks with wood filler
Allow the wood-filler to dry completely (see the pot for instructions) before sanding again. You should now have a very smooth and even surface. 

Once dry, sand the wood filler until smooth
Step 4.

In a well ventilated room (preferably outside) clean Pallet 1 and the individual slats with methylated spirit. You can do this by soaking a rag in spirits and rubbing it over the entire surface area of the pallet and slats. This will clean the wood, give you a better surface for staining and varnishing and kill any small bugs or insects in the wood.

Leave the pallet and slats to dry overnight in a well ventilated room or outside (weather permitting). 

Clean Pallet 1 and slats with methylated spirits
Step 5.

In a well ventilated room apply an even coating of wood stain, with the paintbrush, to the individual slats. You might find it easier to apply the wood stain to 1 side of the slats and the edges before letting it dry and applying stain to the reverse side.

While the slats are drying, apply an even coating of wood stain to the top and sides of Pallet 1. Leave to dry before turning the pallet over and applying stain to the underside.

Once the wood stain has dried, apply an even coating of matt varnish to the slats and Pallet 1 

Stain and Varnish pallet 1 and slats 
Step 6.

Turn Pallet 1 upside down and lay the slats along the base to form the shelf. Nail each slat into place with 2 nails at either end and 2 nails in the middle.

Using a drill with the screwdriver attachment, screw the 4 castors into each corner of the coffee table. Turn the coffee table right side up, give it a dust and wheel into place.

Nail the slats into place and screw a castor into each corner
Future Care

Clean your coffee table by giving a wipe down with a clean duster or a wet cloth. The wood stain and varnish coating should last several years, however keep a note of the colour of wood stain you used in case you need to top it up again in the future.

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