July 5, 2016

Before & After: DIY Antique Pallet Coffee Table

If you follow us on Instagram or Facebook you may already know we took advantage of the three day Memorial Day weekend to tackle a project we've had on the list for quite some time — a tiered coffee table...
We love not only the function of larger table surface and tiered storage, but are pleased with how the rustic industrial vibe turned out. For a little background, this coffee table came to life from two antique pallets Tim had brought home from a warehouse close to 4 years ago. Yep, four years. Toss in a move, a wedding, travel and everyday life — here we are years later with the end result!

While we tackled the project over the span of three days, much of the length was due to waiting on dry times for the stain and final sealing — the actual process was simple and had us wondering why we hadn't attempt this project sooner. Such is life.

The first step in the process was clearing the pallets from storage in the garage and cleaning away the dirt, dust and debris that had collected over the last several years. I used a power washer to make this job not only speedier, but thorough. Once fully cleaned, we left in the sun to dry out for the rest of the day and overnight before moving onto the next step.

Once clean and dry, it was a matter or smoothing and refinishing the original pallets — buffing the metal portions to clear away any rust, sanding down the wood exteriors to smooth away any jagged splinters and edges, then applying a wood stain and seal before bringing inside to stack for a tiered effect. For those that are interested in a bit more in depth look into the process, we've laid out the full step-by-step tutorial below...

To clean and buff the metal legs and side frames, we used two different wire brush attachments for the drill (like these), one in a wheel shape, the other in a cup:

Lightly running these wire brushes over the metal cleared away any added debris or exposed rust, and applying pressure made the original metal sheen come through.

Tim particularly liked pulling that sheen through overtop each of the original pallet rivets. The cup shaped brush was great for sweeping over larger areas while the wheel shaped brush was nice for smaller details and tight corners.

Next up, we smoothed the wood using a belt sander with a fine grit sandpaper over the top of each pallet board. Doing so helped remove any jagged splinters, but also exposed the fresh original wood without losing any of the markings or deep stains that give these pallets their antique character.

After clearing away the sawdust, it was time to stain the wood. Out trusty shop-vac came in handy when trying to clear away all of the smaller bits from the cracks and slats.

Oh, and our trusty supervisor was on duty, running a tight ship as you can see:

We chose a wood finish stain in a shade called "Early American" as a way to pay homage to the pallets' original hue and went with a single coat as not too overwhelm the the end-result with a dark stain. Brushing on the stain as opposed to wiping on with a cloth allowed for getting into each of the wood crevices. This step was rather satisfying, as with each brush stroke, the stain brought out and accentuated all the original markings, nicks and scratches from the pallets' previous life in use.

We left the stain to dry overnight before applying the final seal. We chose a satin finish to keep the natural look of the wood instead of a high sheen, but allow for easy clean-up from potential spills or snacks on the final table surface.

After another overnight of dry time, we brought each of the pallets indoors and simply stacked them for a tied table effect. The older nature of the pallets made them both very heavy, so their weight alone holds them securely in place.

And...now that we've lived with the new coffee table for a few weeks, we can say we're really happy with it. We feel like we've got more room to spread out, more table space to take advantage of and a new shelf to hide odds and ends under to keep the surface clean.

1 comment

  1. I know the pictures just don't do the end result justice and they have to look awesome in your living room. Great job!


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