An Inexpensive Coffee Table


When my office assistant Alexandra said she wanted to build a coffee table, I was impressed. When she said she wanted to build it out of an old shipping pallet, I was skeptical. But when I saw what she had built — in just a few hours — I was amazed! Take a look to see what she did with what first looked like a pile of junk.

Alex found her pallet next to a dumpster, but could see that it was in pretty good shape, only needing a sanding with some coarse grit (#60) sandpaper to round the edges and smooth out the top, still wanting to leave it looking like a shipping pallet!

Since Alex wanted the boards spaced closer together, she carefully pried each one off and set the boards aside for the moment.

She then laid them out in the pattern she wanted, keeping the original nails in each board.

5. Nail

A couple of taps with the hammer and each board was secured in place.

This pallet was larger than what she needed, so before nailing on the final board, Alex sawed off the unwanted section.

She found these industrial casters at a salvage yard for just $20 and bolted them to the underside of the pallet. Helpful tip: be sure to give the wheels a good cleaning, so they won’t dirty the carpet or floors where the pallet table will be placed upon completion.

Alex wanted a sleek urban finish, so she selected Minwax® PolyShades® — a combination of stain and finish in one coat — in “Classic Black,” with a Gloss sheen.

What a dramatic difference — and statement! And with PolyShades®, you can still appreciate the grain of the wood.

I must confess: it came out much better than I would have guessed. It still has the look of a pallet, but the sophistication of a piece of finished furniture. And I love her storage shelf underneath. A classy, urban coffee table re-purposed from a dumpster pallet in just a few hours time! Way to go, Alex!

Until next Monday,

Thanks for stopping by!




16 comments on “An Inexpensive Coffee Table

  1. Nadine

    How awesome is that! The industrial carts turned coffee tables seems to be quite popular these days and I’ve been looking for a cart for a while now, maybe a pallet project like this is right up my ally, or in my living room!

    1. Bruce Johnson Post author

      Definitely give it a shot, Nadine! It’s a fun project. I’d do it again given the opportunity. Let us know how it goes if you figure out a space for it! Best of luck. -Alex

  2. Brigitte

    I love it! Who would have thought. It’s so much easier than I would have imagined. I could actually do that myself. Going to be looking for some pallets for some outdoor furniture! Thank you so much for sharing this

  3. Paul

    You can do many things with old pallets. Many factories have them sitting out for you to take FREE. I have made many project using them from lawn furniture to games for kids to play. I don’t have any pictures as of now but plan on taking some when the weather gets warmer. One thing I did make and proud of it is a 6′ work bench. I found this long pallet at one of our stores in the neighborhood asked them if I could have it brought it home and to my surprise it turn into a great work bench. I will try to get a picture posted when the weather breaks.
    To everyone happy palleting.


  4. Lindi

    Hi Bruce!

    My name is Lindi of Love The Day. I think we may have met last year at Snap, but I am looking forward to getting to know you better this year. I am so glad I found this post! I need a new coffee table desperately and this is exactly what I am looking for. Yay! This weekend is now booked.


  5. Janis

    Just what I am looking for. Looking for pallet and I think I know where one is right now. Thanks for the tut…

  6. Karen

    Hi Bruce- I found you AFTER ( dang it) having tried Polyshades for the first time and having some frustration with the results. I bought an old dining table, sanded the top and then applied my polyshade with a natural bristle brush. I was surprised at how thick the product is, but felt like I was applying a thin coat without “pulling/spreading” it too thin. Almost right away I noticed- not bubbles, but what look like small scratches or cracks showing through. I let it dry, used a 320 grit light sanding and applied another coat, but the same thing is happening. What is going on? I am wondering if I sanded too much of the original surface or applied too thick or thin??? I welcome all suggestions!

    1. Bruce Johnson Post author

      Without seeing a picture, Karen, it’s hard to know for sure but my sense is that it was no sanded down to bare wood and the Polyshades did not stick in some places to whatever was left behind on the original finish on the wood. At this point I’m afraid the only alternative would be to use some coarse sand paper and sand it all the way down to bare wood. Good luck!

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