July 2, 2015

Building a Pallet Table by Hand

Building a Pallet Table by Hand

When we moved into our current house, it came with this rustic wooden table in the backyard—I loved it; we could fit many people around the table and used it in various cookouts. Over a couple months, it began to sag on its legs through rainstorms, icy cold and blistering hot weather, and about a month ago, was totally on the ground.

We left it there for awhile, as a testament. At one point I lifted it up and realized it had killed all of the grass underneath, so we quickly shoved it to the side of the yard. But, what now? What will we eat on outside during the summer?

Enter the pallet table—last Sunday morning I got a Craigslist email alert saying there were several pallets nearby us, and so we took Ryan’s truck and hustled over to grab them. There were four.

Building a Pallet Table by Hand

We came back, intending to build a pallet table but without much knowhow at all. Google wasn’t much help, since the table styles we liked didn’t have great tutorials, and tables we thought were hideous were all well detailed and documented. We also really didn’t have the tools for the job, and had to wing it.

Note: This isn’t a tutorial. These are just photographs of the steps. I’m sure there are many better ways to construct a table, but here’s how we did it.

Building a Pallet Table by Hand

First, we used a hammer and mallet to gently but firmly pry up all of the existing boards on the backside. They’d be used as extra lumber later. The first pallet was damp, and I didn’t realize how easy this made the process until I started the second pallet.

Building a Pallet Table by Hand Building a Pallet Table by Hand

 

The best way we found to do this was to place the hammer claw between the two boards and smack the face of the hammer with the mallet until the claw was fully wedged in. I didn’t try to pry upwards yet; only loosen the board.

Then, once each joint is loosened, I went around a second time gently but firmly prying. And repeated that until I was able to pull the board up in one piece. The practice of distributing pressure evenly reminded me of setting up my drum set in middle school. After each board was pulled up, we carefully removed the nails and dropped them into a flower pot.

Building a Pallet Table by Hand

Once we got most of the boards off, we started adding them back, but flushed together.

Building a Pallet Table by Hand Building a Pallet Table by Hand Building a Pallet Table by Hand

Ryan insisted on using the original nails, and even though I protested that they were weaker, it did look much nicer.

We did this for two pallets,  and weren’t entirely sure how to connect them—we settled on adding several cross beams underneath, as well as copious screws in the joint of the two boards. Building a Pallet Table by Hand

We added extra wood on the sides to even out the table—didn’t want our guests hitting their knees on exposed sharp wood.

Building a Pallet Table by Hand

 

(Pictured to the left here is my vertical garden, which is surprisingly doing great!) We had a hard time getting legs for the table, since Lowe’s doesn’t cut 4×4 wood beams (that’s what the original table had, we figured it was a good bet). We settled on cutting twice as many 2x4s and screwing them together. I also added a leg in the very center for some extra support (you can’t really be too careful).

Building a Pallet Table by Hand

I borrowed my mom’s power sander and smoothed out the top and sides of the table—some pieces were harder than other, given the wear and tear of existing as a shipping pallet before a pallet table. Ryan made his fifth trip to Lowe’s of the weekend and picked up a nice brown stain.

Building a Pallet Table by Hand

 

We’ll see you at our next cookout!

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