"" Rendition Road: Pallet Coffee Table & A Great Staining Tip

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Thursday, July 19, 2012

Pallet Coffee Table & A Great Staining Tip

We've all seen the amazing creations that have come from a simple pallet.
Pallet projects are littering the blog world & I have to say, some of them are downright a-maz-ing. 
I personally LOVE the idea of taking something once perceived as 'trash' as making it into something useful and/or beautiful.

I've made several pallet projects, but had been saving these 4 pallets back for a specific project since they were so well built, clean, & solid.

One thing I will mention about working with pallets is making sure you know how they've been treated. 
 Pallets are treated in many ways and sometimes using many chemicals. 
I have not yet familiarized myself with all the chemical treatments yet, but the safest bet is to stick with pallets that have been heat treated.
You will be able to find a code on just about every pallet you pick up. 
You can see on this one it clearly says 'HT' for heat treated. I know many people will tell you you only need to worry about this if you're using it in your home, but in my opinion it's just safest to stick to heat treated for any use. 

I treated my pallets with a mixture of vinegar & lemon juice to safely kill any insects that might be hidden in them even though they were thoroughly cleaned & inspected. 
It's always better to just be safe. You don't want all your hard work going to waste. 
 Now, before I go any further, I will tell you this post is just a it longer than most. 
I just wanted to make sure I was as detailed as possible in case anyone wants to duplicate this themselves. 
You can see the HT code on this pallet here
I laid them all out & gave them a thorough cleaning & sanding.

Once they were sanded down I just took the nozzle attachment for the air compressor & blew off all the dust.
I went about replacing any boards that needed it, fixing any loose nails, took care of big splinters with some small tack nails, & just generally gave it the once over.
I decided against filling in the spaces since they weren't very big to begin with & I kind of liked the way it looked. 
Once it was all prepped & ready I took some measurements & went looking for some wood.
I had an outline of what I wanted my table to look like, but nothing concrete yet so I was more or less winging it.
I knew I wanted my table to be 2-tier so I needed to find something to attach the top pallet to the bottom with enough space in between for some baskets or other container.
I came away with a 4x4.
I figured it was solid enough & after holding it up next to the 'table' it looked good too.
When deciding how long to cut each 4x4 piece I recommend you find someone to help you hold the top pallet up while you hold the tape measure or scrap piece of wood between the 2.
My 1st decision would have had the table being way too low for comfort.
I can't remember for sure how long I cut each one, but I think it was roughly 16". I can check my measurements for sure if anyone is interested in knowing.
Once all my pieces were cut I went about staining the pallets. I wanted this one to be a dark walnut, but I was contemplating how to apply the stain.
Since I had left the slats open in the pallets, there would be sooooo many more little spaces to get into with the stain & I had no desire to sit for hours & get into all of them.
Of course, I devised a way around that!
I picked up a couple of 99 cent spray bottles at the store & used those.
I just filled the bottle with the stain & went about spraying it on. 

It may look slightly splotchy as you're spraying it, but if you just take your time & make sure to get it everywhere it evens out beautifully!
I let the pallets dry for 24 hours to make sure they were good & dry.I used Krylon clear gloss spray to seal everything, but after 3 coats I wasn't getting the finish I wanted. 
I gave everything a light sanding & gave it 2 coats of polyurethane and let it dry another 24 hours.
Time to assemble.
I decided the best way to attach the 4x4's was to the bottom piece first. You can't tell from the pictures, but the bottom pallet was so much heavier than the top, which is exactly why I made it the bottom of the table. 
I used a large clamp to hold it in place while I drilled pilot holes.
The pallets were up on saw horses so I just sat underneath & drilled up from the bottom. It wasn't the most comfortable, but it got the job done.
Notice from the picture how I placed the 4x4 in about an inch in from the edges? 
I'll explain that in a minute, but it's important!
Here's an idea of how I drilled them.
Once I had all the 4x4's attached to the bottom pallet, I set the top on to see how it would look. 
HUGE problem here.....
I didn't originally drill the 4x4's to sit in about an inch and the top wouldn't go on. I should have taken a picture, but of course was too mad to grab the camera.
It was well over 95 degrees outside & the thought of re-drilling 16 holes had me burning.
I  managed to get them all drilled & this time the top pallet fit like a glove.
I drilled 2 holes through the top pallet to secure it since the bottom was rock-tight & I didn't want to clutter the table top with screws.
I flipped the table over to attach the casters only to realize they were just a hair too big for where I wanted to mount them. 
I stepped back & realized I would need to cut, sand & stain another 2 pieces of wood for the bottom. 
I just attached this board to the bottom with 4 2" wood screws. 
Once it was drilled in place, I attached the casters to it & screwed them in with 4 screws each.
The table got a good wipe down & it was finished. 
You can see here why the 4x4's needed to be in an inch from the edges.

I knew exactly what I was going to do with this table before I even started.
There is a local business close to my home where I was told I could use the pallets they were done with. 
Ummm, are you kidding me?! Yes please & thank you!
Having a source of good, clean pallets so close to home is more than I could ask for. 
I wanted to show my appreciation & thank them by leaving them a nice table for whatever purpose their hearts desired.
I just attached a business card to it with a little thank you on the back & left it outside their front door while they were closed for lunch.
I hope they enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!
I'll be back shortly to show you how I finished the 2nd pallet table. 
Until next time. 


  1. This is so gorgeous! I am sure they loved coming back from lunch and finding thi beauty! I know I would have ;)

  2. I know some people are tired of pallet projects. I've yet to do one. I do have 4 "new" pallets but I have not checked to see how they were treated. I hope they are HT.

    I LOVE this project, and the other one, that I'll be catching. I am pinning this for sure because I must do a table like this! :)

    super job! love everything about it!

    how fun you "gave back" :)


  3. I absolutely love this and I love your amazing tutorial! I'm following you! :)

  4. I think you got the right choice to choose the pallet. Pallet is so hard that's why we can use it for a long time. This is also cheap because it's like a scrap material.

  5. Do you know what size pallets you used for this project. I am looking to build something very similar to this, but noticed most pallets are more square than rectangular and the slats can be further apart.

    1. Hey Ryan- there are a lot of square pallets out there, but I'm lucky in having a local source that gets items shipped on such a variety of sizes & shapes. I love this particular shape myself! The dimensions are: 53" long x 27" wide x 16" tall (casters add in another 3-4") Of course, you could also modify this by adjusting the size of 4x4 supports between the 2 pallets as well. Also, if spacing is a problem, you could just rip some boards on the saw to fit the open spaces between the slats. I know it's a little more work, but some people do like a more solid top on their tables. Hope that helps a little bit :)

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    How did you apply it?
    Do you Just leave it soak in & dry?
    Did you rinse it off?

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