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Single Pallet Coffee Table

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Project by garbonsai posted 557 days ago 2538 views 11 times favorited 25 comments Add to Favorites Watch

The Mid-Michigan Woodworkers Guild had a pallet competition last meeting. The goal—create something from a single standard pallet. Seeing as I had roughly two dozen of them out in the garage (I have a few spots I check on a semi-regular basis for the purposes of snagging any decent looking wood), I took the pick of the litter in terms of relatively straight stringers and slats. Imagine my surprise when I ran one of them through the planer and ended up with the figuring on the end pieces.

This is the first piece of furniture I’ve ever created. My experience is more in refinishing, and in rough carpentry. So I learned a lot while putting this together. And I cut a lot of corners.

The table frame is has biscuits in the corners, and the slats are glued into a slot running around the inside edge. I could have simply captured them in place, but I was afraid there might be a little play left to right, and they might slide around given the chance. The tapered legs were created by laminating four slats together (after planing them), and then cutting them free-hand on the bandsaw and finally sanding them on the belt sander. The stringers are mortise and tenon, although I cheated like mad—I don’t expect them to hold up, as I simply shortened the tenon, rather than rounding it or squaring the mortise (I didn’t have a 1/4” chisel). Finished with a coat of BLO about an hour before I took it to the competition—I’ll probably rub on a few coats of semi-gloss poly before putting it to use.

The last picture was taken at the competition. There were only four entries, so I don’t feel particularly awesome in saying that I won first place. But it does feel pretty good.

Thanks for looking!

-- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.





25 comments so far

View jakub76's profile

jakub76

55 posts in 1074 days


#1 posted 557 days ago

That’s bloody GREAT!

If you’re worried about M&T gaps use epoxy when you glue up. Not only does it fill the gaps but the slow set seems to allay a lot of stress.

What a great 1st furniture piece and a great idea for reclaimed wood. Nice work!

View jdh122's profile

jdh122

338 posts in 1420 days


#2 posted 557 days ago

Nice work, very interesting design. Especially for a first project it’s incredible work. And congratulations on winning first prize. Any idea what kind of wood it is? maple/birch, or maybe something more exotic?

I may be wrong, but I would worry that gluing the panel into the frame is going to cause wood movement issues, especially with the grain running the way it is – it may push the end pieces of the frame right out. Or maybe there’s enough gap between the slats to account for movement.

-- Jeremy, in the Acadian forests

View RussInMichigan's profile

RussInMichigan

468 posts in 1383 days


#3 posted 557 days ago

Good work fellow lumberjock and MMWG member.

I was there, too. It’s good to see it posted here at lumberjocks.

Russ

View DavidIN's profile

DavidIN

78 posts in 590 days


#4 posted 557 days ago

Cut outs you did made the piece. Nice job.

View Wdwerker's profile

Wdwerker

331 posts in 835 days


#5 posted 557 days ago

Looks great! I hope the seasonal wood movement doesn’t make it crack. If the moisture content of the boards was high when you built it a few gaps between the slats may develop. If the wood was stored inside and had dried out it could expand by a 1/2” or so in the most humid parts of the year. Finish it on all sides equally to reduce the chances of swelling. Seal up the top and underside equally, one coat at a time.
In the future the center panel of slats needs to float in the groove with a deeper groove on each end to allow for the wood to move.

-- Fine Custom Woodwork since 1978

View Oldtool's profile

Oldtool

1749 posts in 793 days


#6 posted 557 days ago

Great looking table, well done. I really like the way you incorporated the fork lift cutouts rather than cut the boards straight & thinner. Very nice, you earned first place in my opinion.

-- "I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The point is to bring them the real facts." - Abraham Lincoln

View garbonsai's profile

garbonsai

135 posts in 557 days


#7 posted 557 days ago

Thanks for all the tips and hints—I waffled back and forth over whether to glue the slats or not. In the end, I did. The slats aren’t edge-glued to one another, and there was some wiggle room, but I doubt that’ll help. I’ll make sure to apply finish to the bottom of the table-top as well. And, if I come home from work one day to find a pile of pallet wood that was once a poorly constructed coffee table, well, live-and-learn. :)

@DavidIN: As for the cut-outs, those are actually the cut-outs you would normally find on a pallet for the forks of the lift-truck. I simply smoothed them out using the OSS in the corners and belt sander in the middle. First time I got to play with the OSS, and, as with every tool I’ve ever bought off of Craigslist, I’m going to have to pull it apart and clean it up before I use it much more.

@Oldtool: Thanks. Those were definitely a eureka moment. That, and the tapered legs.

-- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

View Monte Pittman's profile

Monte Pittman

13327 posts in 940 days


#8 posted 556 days ago

Cool idea. Good utilization of the pallet.

-- Mother Nature created it, I just assemble it. - It's not ability that we often lack, but the patience to use our ability

View david38's profile

david38

1022 posts in 945 days


#9 posted 556 days ago

nice job

View DaddyZ's profile

DaddyZ

2376 posts in 1642 days


#10 posted 556 days ago

Very Cool !!!

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View JR_Dog's profile

JR_Dog

526 posts in 922 days


#11 posted 556 days ago

Great build; that’s suitable for any room.

I really like how you used the runners and kept the natural shape; usually those get scraped – great job

View a1Jim's profile

a1Jim

112000 posts in 2179 days


#12 posted 556 days ago

Cool design and amazing use of pallet wood.

-- http://artisticwoodstudio.com Custom furniture

View Jamie Speirs's profile

Jamie Speirs

4096 posts in 1458 days


#13 posted 556 days ago

Very unique, a graet looking table.
jamie

-- Who is the happiest of men? He who values the merits of others, and in their pleasure takes joy, even as though 'twere his own. --Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

View woodtarded's profile

woodtarded

15 posts in 570 days


#14 posted 556 days ago

What sort of business do you find a pallet of that quality. Everywhere I look for them they are usually just garbage…

-- Jimmy---- Never be afraid to try something new. Remember, amateurs built the Ark, professionals built the Titanic.

View garbonsai's profile

garbonsai

135 posts in 557 days


#15 posted 556 days ago

@woodtarded: I’ve had the best luck with places that deal in heavy machinery and/or raw metal. The pallets tend to be heavier-duty (oak instead of pine/fir/etc.), and tend to be in better shape because they need to handle so much weight. As a for-instance, the day before yesterday, I checked one of my favorite spots, and came home with two 48”x100” pallets with four stringers each of 2”x4” oak.

-- Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.

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