Rustic Wood Pallet Coffee Table
A rustic wood pallet coffee table is the perfect way to add some charm and character to any living room. Made from reclaimed wood pallets, these coffee tables have a unique, earthy aesthetic that sets them apart from mass-produced furniture.
In this article, I will discuss my process for building a DIY pallet coffee table from start to finish. I will cover sourcing pallets, tools needed, design considerations, step-by-step instructions, finishing, and tips for customizing my rustic wood coffee table. Whether you are a beginner or experienced DIYer, you can use this guide to make a beautiful, sustainable furniture project using simple pallets.
Sourcing and Selecting Pallets
The first step is finding some high-quality pallets to use for my project. Here are some tips on what to look for when selecting pallets:
I recommend using hardwood pallets as they will be more durable and look better. Oak, maple, ash, hickory, and poplar are all good options.
Inspect the wood for defects, rot, or damage. I want boards that are straight and in good condition.
Make sure the pallets are not chemically treated, which is indicated by a stamp such as HT, MB, or EPAL. Untreated wood is safer to work with.
Standard pallet sizes are 48″x40″ or 36″x36″. Choose a size that will work for the coffee table you envision.
Disassemble pallets carefully with a pry bar, hammer, and/or saw to avoid splitting wood.
Tools and Materials Needed
To build a pallet coffee table, I gathered the following essential tools and materials:
- Circular saw or jig saw
- Drill and drill bits
- Tape measure and ruler
- Pry bar
- Sandpaper in varying grits
- Orbital sander (optional)
- Wood glue
- Safety gear like gloves, eye protection, etc.
- 3-5 high-quality wooden pallets
- Wood screws
- Wood filler
- Stain, paint, or clear finish of choice
- Decorative hardware if desired
Designing the Table
When designing my pallet coffee table, there are a few considerations I kept in mind:
Intended usage – Will it mainly be decorative or used regularly for drinks and storage? This affects the dimensions and sturdiness of the table.
Aesthetic – Do I want an rustic, natural look or a more colorful, painted table? I can stain or paint the pallet boards to achieve my desired style.
Functionality – Consider features like storage cubbies, shelves, casters for moving, or a lift-top function. Decide if you want compartments for storing books, blankets, remotes, etc.
Shape and size – Standard coffee tables range from 36″ to 48″ wide and 16″ to 20″ tall. Make sure to measure the space where it will go before deciding on size and shape.
Leg design – This affects the overall look and stability. I can use angled boards, square blocks, hairpin legs, pipe legs, etc.
After considering these factors, I decided on a simple, rustic table approximately 4 feet long, 2 feet wide, and 18 inches tall for my living room. I chose to use square blocks for legs to complement the modern farmhouse style.
Step-by-Step Building Instructions
Now it’s time to start constructing the pallet coffee table. Follow these step-by-step instructions for assembling the table:
1. Cut and Prepare the Boards
After disassembling the pallets with a hammer and pry bar, organize the boards by size and appearance. Cut the boards to uniform lengths using a power saw. I cut my boards to be around 48 inches long to allow for mistakes. Sand each board with 80 grit sandpaper to remove splinters, stains, and rough edges.
2. Build the Table Top
Arrange the boards on a flat surface until you find an appealing pattern. Use wood glue and clamps to securely join 3-4 boards together on their edges to make a wide panel. Repeat to make 2-3 panels total, then glue and clamp these together into one large rectangular top. Allow the glue to cure fully before moving on.
3. Attach Table Legs
Cut 4 leg pieces to desired height and width. I made mine 18″ tall x 3.5″ square. Attach a leg to each corner of the tabletop using wood screws driven in from the bottom for a clean look. Ensure the legs are square to the top using a carpenter’s square.
4. Add Bottom Support
Cut several boards to make rail supports along the bottom to reinforce the table. Attach with wood glue and screws driven in from the bottom. Optionally, add a bottom shelf board halfway up the legs for extra stability and an area to stash blankets or table books.
5. Sand and Finish the Table
Sand the entire coffee table starting with 120 grit, then 180, and finishing with 220 grit paper to achieve a smooth surface. Carefully wipe away dust. Apply your choice of stain, paint, or clear coat finish. Allow the finish to dry fully before using the table.
6. Add Decorative Details
Once constructed, I can embellish my table with details like:
Distressing the wood using a hammer, chains, nails, etc. for an antique look
Stenciling or painting a fun design on the tabletop
Using different colored wood boards to create a checkerboard or border pattern
Attaching hairpin legs, casters, handles, or a wine bottle rack
Adding epoxy, tile, or glass inserts into the surface
The options are endless! Use your creativity to personalize your one-of-a-kind pallet coffee table.
Tips for Success
Follow these tips as you undertake this rustic DIY furniture project:
Carefully pry apart pallets to keep boards intact
Wear gloves and safety goggles when prying and cutting wood
Work on a flat, level surface for best results
Pre-drill holes before driving screws to prevent splitting wood
Apply an even coat of finish and allow proper drying time
Add protective pads to the bottom of legs to prevent floor scratches
Check for stability and levelness before using
Seal the wood with polyurethane if using outdoors
Constructing a pallet coffee table is a satisfying, budget-friendly DIY project. With proper planning, materials, and techniques, you can make a beautiful rustic furniture piece to spruce up any living space. Personalize the design to match your style and decor. Use this comprehensive guide to build a sturdy pallet wood coffee table you will cherish for years to come! Let me know if you have any other questions.