How to Make a Pallet Coffee Table

So HomeStretch Moving just completed your move. You’re unpacked, settled in, ready to relax and watch some TV. You look around your living room and realize that something is missing. Everything looks great, but this room really needs something. If only you knew how to make a pallet coffee table! Your life would be complete.

That’s what happened to me, so I decided I would try my hand at making one. I am no carpenter, but I consider myself reasonably handy…how hard could it be? Making furniture out of pallets is all the rage on the DIY sites right now, so I looked at few ideas for inspiration, took a deep breath and dove in. No one was more surprised than me that the results were awesome (if I do say so myself). But don’t take my word for it, here’s what I made:

Pallet Coffee Table

Finished Pallet Coffee Table

Not bad, huh? Thanks!

So for all you aspiring creators of household goods, here follow my step by step instructions so you too can create a $400 piece of furniture for about $80. This project can be completed in about two or three days if you’re dedicated. It took me two or three weeks of dedicated procrastination.


Make a Pallet Coffee Table in 5 Easy Steps

What you’ll need:

Phillips Head Screwdriver
Three Door Hinges
One Latch
One Drawer or Cabinet Handle
1/2 Inch Drywall Screws
Cabot Premium Finish Stain and Sealer
Foam Paintbrush
Coarse Sandpaper
Very Fine Sandpaper
Ultra Fine Steel Wool
4 Inch Castors
2-3 Pallets
1/4 Inch Wood Screws

Step One: Gather Pallets

You will need 2-3 pallets that are the same size. I managed to make my table using only two pallets, but my job would have been easier if I had three. I found my pallets on trash day at the curb by a house that was undergoing renovations.


Start with 2-3 raw pallets like this one

Step Two: Move Planks Together

Here’s one of the two steps that require the most elbow grease. You will need to pry the boards off the top of the pallet, taking care to try not to split or break them. Save the nails. The finished table looks better with original rough nails. You will also need extra planks from one of the other pallets (this is where having three pallets would have made my life easier). After you have your individual planks, you will need to nail them back into the pallet, but this time you want them as close together as possible so that you end up with a fairly solid table top with only minimal gaps between the boards.

Tip: Take the time to lay out your boards before you start nailing them in. They are NOT all the same width (I learned this the hard way and had to pry the boards off and start over after they didn’t make it all the way to the end of the pallet base). You may need to allow small gaps between some planks in order to get them lined up correctly.

You only need to do this for the pallet that will make the top of the coffee table. The bottom pallet is fine the way it is. While you’re moving planks around, go ahead and remove the bottom planks from the pallet that you’re using for your table top. When I nailed the planks back on, I did not try to get them lined up evenly. I think the table looks better when the imperfections are there.


Remove the bottom planks from the pallet that will be the top of your coffee table

Step Three: Start Sanding

This is the other “elbow grease” step. I used coarse sandpaper for my first sanding pass and then a very fine sandpaper for my second pass. You WILL get tired. Your arm WILL ache. You WILL start to wonder if this was such a good idea. Hang in there! It’s worth it. You need to sand the top of the table very thoroughly. After the second sanding pass with the very fine sandpaper, the table should be smooth and splinter-free. the second pallet is less important. You can get away with less sanding there.

Tip: Really pay attention to the ends of the planks. They are very rough and tough to get smooth. Keep sanding. I got lazy on some of the edges and they still are rougher than I would like now that the project is done. It’s gonna bug me forever…


Sand with coarse followed by very fine sandpaper to get that silky smooth finish

Step Four: Stain Stain Stain

I used an all-in-one stain and sealer from Cabot. If they don’t have the color you are looking for, you will have to get a stain and a separate sealer and do this step in two parts. Once you have finished sanding and woken up from your nap, you need to get all the sanding dust off the pallets. I used a small hand broom, shop vac and damp rag to get all the dust off before staining. The first coat is the most important. The wood will want to suck up the stain, but take your time. Too much stain will drip and run and you will have to let it dry and sand again to make it look right. I stained one plank at a time and feathered the stain at the end of each stroke. If you don’t feather the stain out lightly, you will get lines on your planks where the stain overlaps. Allow each coat of stain to dry for about two hours before applying another coat.

After the first coat of stain has dried, use the ultra fine steel wool to lightly rub down the entire stained surface. This will get rid of tiny air bubbles in the finish. You will be amazed how easily the second coat goes on if you use the steel wool. Don’t skip this step, it is critical for ending up with a surface that could pass for professional quality.


Brush the stain on in the direction of the wood grain for the most natural looking finish


Allow each coat of stain to dry for two hours

Step Five: Assemble Pallet Coffee Table

Finally, the home stretch. I decided that I loved the industrial/rustic look I had going, so rather than attach the two pallets together somewhere inside and invisible, I decided to use door hinges and a latch. As a result, the top of the coffee table can lift open. It is not necessary to do it this way, I just like how it looks. after the top and bottom pallets are connected, simply screw on castors with the 1/4″ wood screws.


Hinges on one side and a latch on the other, hold the two pallets together


The 4″ casters on the bottom raise the table up to the exact perfect height.

So that’s it. Five easy steps and you too can have a beautiful, postmodern, americana, feng shui pallet coffee table. I just made that up, I don’t know how to categorize it, I just know I love the way it looks. I hope you have as much fun making yours as I had making mine.

And remember, if you are moving in Florida, contact us at and get the best service at the most reasonable prices.


Posted in After You Move, DIY Home Projects, Uncategorized
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