Well I finally finished it today, the first of a few wood pallet projects… my attempt to recycle or repurpose wood and make something new with it. Let’s upcycle!
The first one on my list was to make an outdoor patio table for us to use this spring and summer. As I may have mentioned this before, at this point I’ve already done a fair amount of collecting and breaking down wood from a few different sources, so I had my stock of wood ready for this project.
So I’m sitting here staring at this pile of reclaimed wood and thinking of how I can get started, my creative juices are flowing out-of-control at this point. There are just so many ways to do this, but I had an obvious starter idea that I was going to roll with.
See below for a photo essay on how I built my outdoor patio table out of pallet wood.
I was originally going to try and write down some instructions, patterns, and design sketches – but I ended up building this thing purely out of intuition and creativity, so all of this was really in my head; nothing recorded elsewhere.
In the end I think this kind of project isn’t for someone who HAS to have perfection, it’s really more about the function than the form. The form will come after the function here.
Making an Outdoor Patio Furniture (a Table) From Reclaimed Wood
The Finished Product – An Outdoor Patio Table Made From Reclaimed Wood
Ending Notes / Things I learned / Perspective
As I set out to build this and other pieces of DIY furniture I really felt great in that I was building something new with some old and very well used pieces of wood that might otherwise be broken down and either burned or piled up in a landfill somewhere. This was a new experience in recycling, and I think that the term “upcycling” is very apropos here.
I saw how none of it went exactly according to plan (as it was in my head), so I needed to be patient and have a Plan B, Plan C .. type approach. But that was ok! I knew I wasn’t building a “finished piece” that needed to be interior-quality type of furniture, this was going to be imperfect in many ways, and that’s great stuff!
I did measure and try to keep things as straight as I could, but I also used bowed pieces that weren’t level, with holes and surface cuts, and all of this adds to the visual impact of the table. It’s like these were the battle scars of the wood, showing its integrity and strength – it’s survived this far, travelled thousands of miles, and now it’s all put together here in this form. Maybe later someone (maybe even me) will tear down my table and make it into something new? Who knows?
Some Project Setbacks – Having to Repeat Efforts I Had Already Made 🙁
After I had laid out all of the planks on top, I knew already that I was going to have to turn the table upside down so that I could build the bottom parts of the frame (the cross-members), and when I did, some of the top planks fell out and this was really frustrating, but I took it in stride. I ended up using longer screws for some of the planks because they didn’t get far enough into the frame’s edges to keep the planks held in.
After I realized that most of the top planks had this kind of issue, I ended up taking many of them off and the screws out. I decided to to use both longer and bigger screws to hold the planks down properly. Some of the screw tips went all the way through to the bottom of the frame, so I decided that was ok – I’d grind off the sharp edges on the bottom of the table later.
Tools I Used – Both In The Right and Wrong Way
So I have to admit here, I used a bunch of different tools here, and not all of them the right way. First off, I have a really nice table saw that has a laser sight line built in, I don’t think I could have done all of this without it. I have a drill that I used both for alot of this: Pre-drilling holes in many of the pieces, simply because many of these wood pieces are really hard, and you can’t just screw through them. In addition to the drilling holes, I used some big screws and I really needed some power to drive them into the legs, the table’s frame, and of course, the planks too.
I did get a few of the screws that broke during the process so I either used a vise-grip to turn them out, or if they were far enough in to hold that particular piece of wood, I used a grinder to cut off or grind off the excess part of the screws that were exposed. I also used the grinder to take off the sharp edges of all the screws I used for the top planks, as many of them went through to the bottom. I also used a wood file on areas where I needed to even out some of the wood surfaces. I didn’t use a traditional screwdriver when putting this together, not even once (surprised actually).
I did also use the grinder to round out some of the edges on the wood frame, because I didn’t have the right saw to cut the corners I needed. So, something to be said for using a grinder with a metal disc to literally burn off some wood; totally not the right tool for the job… but it worked! I also used a hammer to help bang some of the pieces of frame into place, as I had made some tight fitting parts that needed a little help going together.
Now that the construction of the table is over, I am going to sand it down using my electric palm sander, and then give it a coat of something, just not sure what just yet, but that’ll be a hardware store decision.
Overall View – Success In My First Pallet Project
The sum of this project is really big. It took me about three weeks to make this from start to finish. I say the first week’s worth of time I was collecting and breaking down the wood. Keep in mind when I say weeks, I’m really getting a few hours here and there over a Saturday or Sunday, I have a full-time job so this was definitely a “weekend project” and I put in time when I could. We’re a busy family and I couldn’t just come home from work and run into the garage to work on this. So to give some better perspective, I probably could have knocked this out over a couple of days if I was able to solely do this and not goto work, etc.
I really love the patina and wear that the wood pieces have on them, as it really adds to the “finished product.” It’s actually far from being something with a smooth finish or cover, it’s more than that. You could call this rustic, industrial, edgy, DIY, and use a number of other descriptive adjectives, but to me it’s got tons of character. It’s unique as I doubt any two pieces of pallet furniture pieces are alike, and I have a huge sense of satisfaction knowing that I did it!
For now, I’m going to buy a couple of plastic adirondack chairs for my wife and I to use around the table, while I embark on my next project, an outdoor Pallet Wood Bench. If you didn’t catch the beginning of this project, go back and read about it here.
Sanding and Outdoor Wood Treatment [Update 5-28-2013]
Just a quick update here, it was an amazingly beautiful day outside, so I took the opportunity to take the table outside of the garage and sand it down using a palm sander. I went through nearly 5 sheets of sandpaper to really get the table into final shape, and prepare it for waterproofing. I didn’t sand it to change or try to improve the look, this was more to get rid of any sharp edges, and to make the table splinter-free … especially where our feet would touch the bottom parts (the frame area) where I intend to put my feet up!
Photos After The Waterproofing Was Applied – Thompson’s Water Seal Results
By Louis Wing