DIY: Rustic-Modern Pallet Coffee Table

by Kira @ Her New Leaf on July 28, 2011

A huge reason why I love blogging, reading blogs, and being a part of the blogging community is that inspiration is everywhere! I find myself hugely inspired by Brooke at Killer B Designs. She and her husband have basically handcrafted an entire house-full of awesome, hand-built, totally custom furniture. Even now that Brooke is adorably eight months pregnant, she is still turning out awesome new projects! Here are some of my favorites from her portfolio:

All images by Killer B Designs

Brooke’s Farmhouse Vanity, Blue Barn Door, $15 Kitchen Island

Brooke recently wrote a post about how she got started with carpentry and building furniture, and the biggest tip I took from her was to just try it. So I did!

Floating around the blog-o-sphere lately has been the idea of reusing wooden pallets to make furniture. I’ve had some mixed feelings about some of the pieces I’ve seen, but some look pretty cool.

Image bodieandfou.com via Julia on Pinterest

This coffee table isn’t exactly my aesthetic (so low? on wheels? how are we supposed to eat all our meals off that?) but I liked the concept and a coffee table seemed like a pretty manageable project for a first-timer. I recruited Marcus to help me rescue a pallet I knew was living down the street. We got a few funny looks from neighbors as we were carrying it home. Don’t these people read blogs?? Probably not.

I determined that we should use about half of it for our table. I wanted it to have a fairly solid top and open bottom, and I wanted to keep the general structure of the pallet intact. So we left the two boards on the end (the prettier end, of course) and Marcus used a crow bar and mallet to start removing the rest. Since we were reusing most of the boards, I opted to supervise to make sure he was careful. The wood was extremely splintery so I would definitely recommend wearing gloves and safety glasses.

After we had the boards pried off, we had to determine how wide we wanted the table to be. Since we weren’t particularly picky, we lined up the prettiest boards until we thought it looked good, then marked the base of the pallet with a pencil. We then cut the three boards running cross-wise with a jigsaw.

I really loved the patina on the old, ugly nails in the pallet and wanted to reuse them if possible. Since Marcus had been extra careful when removing the boards (ha), most of the nails were still straight-ish. He banged the nails out the top of the board with a hammer, we lined the board up, then he banged them back in. This is probably not the most secure method for assembling a piece of furniture, but we’re only building a coffee table that doesn’t need to hold a particularly large amount of weight, so we think it will be okay.

Can you guess the last step? Sanding!! We busted out the power sander and sanded the crap out of every surface. We weren’t sure how we would feel about the finish at first, and we considered possibly staining or sealing the wood. But once we started sanding and saw the super cool patterns showing up on the wood, we decided to keep it as-is!

But what about legs? This, in my opinion, was my best idea for this whole project. We had been using two red Ikea Lack Side Tables as a coffee table, retail price: $7.99 each. So I suggested why not use the legs we already had? I thought the bright and modern look of the legs would add a cool contrast to the rustic nature of the wooden top, and you can’t really beat $2 per leg. We assessed several methods we could use to attach the legs and decided the easiest way would be to remove the existing hardware with vise grips and screw through the side of the pallet into the leg.

Then I asked Marc to carry the table around the corner so we could take some “after” pics. He first placed it in front of a pretty purple flowering plant and I said, “No no no, over here in the ugly grass.” He looked skeptical. Then a bunch of tourists walked by who looked even more skeptical. They don’t read blogs either. This table looks awesome in the wild.

Then we brought the table into its natural habitat. And Marcus and I took turns loudly shouting at each other, “That is a nice table!” and “WOW look at that table!” and “Where did you get that awesome table?!” Is it perfect? Heck no! A few of the legs are crooked so if we take it off the carpet, it wobbles back and forth. Do we care? No – we’re proud! We built something ourselves that didn’t come from Ikea! Well, most of it didn’t.

I also plan to submit my little table to the Pinterest Challenge – I can’t wait to see what Sherry and Jon come up with!

Have you ever built at piece of furniture yourself?

{ 34 comments… read them below or add one }

Morgan July 28, 2011 at 6:13 am

Kira! LOVE IT. I spotted a palette at the end of our street – walked myself down to get it, carried it home and got STARED at the entire way. I have several in our garage that I have been taking apart for various projects. CLEARLY more people need to read blogs and follow Pinterest. I think you’ll get picked if you submit it. GO FOR IT! Awesome team work too!!

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joanne July 28, 2011 at 6:13 am

wow kir!!! that IS an awesome table!! i had mentioned seeing wood pallet coffee tables to billy a couple years ago. he just laughed at me. now i can show him yours and the joke will be on HIM!! also love your shell/planter arrangement!! you are a trend setter, da’ling!

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greg July 28, 2011 at 7:07 am

you get two awesomes from me. one for the great table and the other for the “table in the wild” photo.

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Kira@hernewleaf July 28, 2011 at 2:27 pm

I knew you would like that one ; )

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Holly July 28, 2011 at 7:54 am

Ahhh that looks AWESOME. You guys did such a great job on it!

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Caroline July 28, 2011 at 8:04 am

damn that is a NICE coffee table!!!

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Marcus July 28, 2011 at 9:10 am

Look at that table!

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Meg July 28, 2011 at 9:14 am

Awesome! I love it, you are so amazing Kira, come build me furniture!

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Brooke July 28, 2011 at 9:17 am

That’s one snazzy coffee table! Thanks so much for the shout out. Nothing makes me smile like knowing I inspired someone to go out and build for themselves. You did a fabulous job!

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franjessica July 28, 2011 at 9:38 am

Look at you with the blogging all week. I love it and I love the coffee table. It is fantastic. I’m sure John and Sherry will adore it too. I joined pinterest but I still haven’t figured out how it works- it scares me. I helped Jon build a work bench once and it too turned out wobbly.

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Lori July 28, 2011 at 11:03 am

Hey Kir, you know I have built furniture before. In fact, I think I’ve built a couple pieces for YOU!
Here’s some that I built/altered:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/fisheye3/sets/72157603944418093/

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Suzula July 28, 2011 at 12:06 pm

That table is fantabulous!! You guys are amazing!

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Courtney July 28, 2011 at 2:24 pm

I LOVEEEEEEE this table!! I want it in my house. I am now tempted to purchase a jigsaw. A few years ago I really wanted to build a table for my deck out of a wooden sawhorse…but I couldn’t find a wooden sawhorse.

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Kira@hernewleaf July 28, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Depending on what kind of pallet you find, you could probably cut it with a hand saw – since you sand the whole thing after, it doesn’t really matter if you cut perfectly straight. And a sawhorse table sounds awesome!

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Layla July 29, 2011 at 5:53 am

That is really freaking cool, dude!! I’m serious, I would do that. Only I’m not handy and Josh is worse than I am, so I’ll just admire yours from afar.

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claire July 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

I mean, you made a table, how sweet is that! I’m so not carpentry inclined, or diy inclined at all.

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Becky July 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm

wow – impressive. Great project. Love the visual of lugging home a pallet! Nice to meet you last weekend at the workshop (if only briefly)

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melissa July 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

I just found your blog. This project came out great! I’m hoping to do the pinterest challenge this weekend, too. I’m still looking for somethign to do. :)

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jennifer young July 31, 2011 at 2:27 pm

kira! this is super cool!!!
j.

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MandeeFoFandee August 2, 2011 at 12:09 pm

I’ve never built furniture before, but uhh… I would pay you to do it for me! holy crap! that table is amazing – I love those bright legs with the rustic table. seriously, great work!

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Catharine @ Your Modern Couple August 3, 2011 at 1:37 pm

This table is SO awesome! I can’t wait to show the boyfriend to hopefully inspire him to make one for his living room! I love it!

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jacky at Small Garden Love August 25, 2011 at 7:11 am

How cool, very nice! Oh, love your rug btw (I have the same one).

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Kira@hernewleaf August 27, 2011 at 4:02 pm

Lol, I think this must be the most common rug in the country – as soon as Ikea comes out with a new 19.99 rug, I’m sure that one will take its place!

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Adam November 20, 2012 at 2:50 pm

I work in distribution, and out warehouses have tons of pallets just lying around. After jamming one into my 2-door can and getting it home, I decided to turn it into a chandelier for the dining room.

Pallets also look great if you just suspend them at any angle from ceilings or walls – especially if you can manage to back light them!

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