DIY project: pallet coffee table

02 Jul

What happens when you give a crafty children’s librarian some free time, tools, and a new place to decorate?  The answer: A  whole lot of DIY projects!  The first month that we were in our new place, Em was waiting for her new job to process paperwork and get everything lined up for her to start.  This led to quite a bit of free time, and she certainly took advantage of it by taking on several DIY projects to make the new house feel beachy!

Today’s featured project: a wood pallet coffee table.  There are all kinds of wood pallet items that have become popularized via Pinterest and other DIY website, and Em decided to do her own version.  This was actually a complete surprise to me…she hadn’t mentioned it to me, but one day I came home from work to a nearly completed pallet table that has since replaced our old table.

the pallet

the pallet

Truth be told, I had kind of forgotten that we even had a pallet.  When we first moved in, I had used an old pallet that we found leaning up against the house as a platform on which to set my grill.  However, Em saw some raw potential and plucked the pallet from underneath the grill.  Table-town, here we come!

Em assured me that one of the most difficult parts of the entire process was pulling the pallet apart.  This was probably partly due to the fact that the pallet was quite old and weathered (thus stuck together pretty well), and also partly due to the fact that she was essentially working with only a crowbar and a hammer to get the whole thing disassembled.  The fact is, I’m happy I wasn’t around to watch the whole process, because I probably would have been worried sick about her losing an eye or stepping on a rusty nail and getting tetanus. Eventually, she did get the pallet apart.

photo 2 (1)

When she got the boards apart, the object was then to put them back together (in a table-like fashion).  She lined up the longer boards alongside one another and then attached them to two shorter boards running perpendicular at each end of the table.  Once you have this base assembled, you can begin assembling the table rather quickly.

photo 3

This base (top) of the pallet table still left a fair amount of wood to work with, and Em was able to make the legs with the extra wood.  This was the only point that we received any outside help…Em went to Home Depot and they made a few cuts in the 2×4’s for her to make them even.  They did it for free, so that was a nice bonus!  She then attached the legs with the nails that she had saved when taking apart the pallet, so I came home to a standing table.  (We later put in screws in the legs to help reinforce the sturdiness of the table – not quite as rustic as the old rusty nails, but necessary.  This was my first contribution to the table.)  Just like that we had a standing table.

photo 4

After this, we went through several rounds of sanding the table – starting with a more coarse paper and moving to a finer paper.  This was my second contribution to the project – some good ol’ fashioned elbow grease.  After the sanding, we added two layers of a stain/finish combination that we got.  We followed that up with two layers of a polycrylic satin finish.

photo 3 (1)


Finally, after a pretty decent amount of work, we had a finished coffee table.  The only thing we paid for the entire project was the stain/finish and polycrylic (and we needed the polycrylic for other projects anyway!).  You really can’t beat that…especially when it turns out well and you get a new coffee table to enjoy on a daily basis.



Wendy approves.




All in all, a very successful project that has thus far proved to be very sturdy as well.  The lighter colored wood and the slatted style is a much nicer fit with our beachy style than our former coffee table that was a shiny, darker wood.  All of that added to the fact that it was completely free (aside from the small can of finish/stain that we bought), make it an even more impressive project.  We’ve even had friends who have told us that we could peddle these guys for $100+….maybe after another practice round or two!  So kudos to Em, who saw the potential in the old, weathered pallet, and decided to go for it!



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3 responses to “DIY project: pallet coffee table

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