How-To: Pallet Wood Bench

Happy November, everyone!  We’re diving into our Pallet Wood Bench tutorial today, as mentioned here!  Woo-Hoo!

HowToBench

First, we would like to give credit where credit is due.  We were highly influenced by A Cherry Blossom Kind of Life’s Pallet Bench Tutorial.  Isn’t the finished product darling?

CBKoLBench

Anyway, I returned home from work to find not one, not two, but… twenty-five pallets in my yard!  “Holy Pallet,” said I!  Our friend, Dean, who owns a cleaning service (Dean’s Cleaning Service, to be precise), comes up with some of the most awesome/random finds for us.  You may remember our Navy Enamel Campaign Desk and the wood/paint we used on The Shed?  Yep, those were his finds, too.

Below, you’ll find your list.  We realize you may not have all of these supplies/tools, but where there is a will, there is a way!  For instance, Maggie saws everything with an antique hand saw in her pallet bench tutorial.  Go, Girl!

BenchSupplies

This was a two day project for us.  Day One and half of Day Two involved dismantling and prepping the pallets.  If you’ve never dismantled a pallet before, be prepared to spend a lot of time and muscle doing it.  They are not meant to come apart at all easily.

First, cut along the side supports with a circular saw.  What you’re left with is 2 separate 2×4 type boards per pallet and several 1×4 or 1×6 type boards still connected to the center support (which is also a 2×4).  Each pallet differs on the number of 1×4 or 1×6 boards you get.  See Below.  I will be referring to the supports as “2x4s” for the remainder of the tutorial.

PalletPrepCollage

Here’s where you get really involved.  You want to remove the 1×6 and 1×4 boards, as well as all nails, from the center supports.  We basically rocked the flat boards (1x6s/1x4s) back and forth to loosen them, then used a hammer or pry bar (and a whole lot of elbow grease) to pull them off.  If the nails or nail heads break, cut them with bolt cutters/pliers and hammer the rest in (this happens a lot).  To prep the 2x4s, make sure the nails are pulled out or flush, which sounds much easier than it actually is… :)

We had our first equipment casualty during the dismantling process.  This may give you an idea of exactly how strong the nails/pallets were (or how much force Aaron was using):

Hammer

Note:  When we do our next pallet project, we will just spend the few extra dollars on a few 2x4s.  The amount of energy and time that it took to salvage the pallet 2×4 supports was not worth it just to say it was f-r-e-e!

Phew… now that that’s off of my chest… we began to assemble the base of the seat.  Here is where we made a rookie mistake.  We used two of the 2x4s as the front and the back.  For the sides, we cut one of the 2x4s in half.  We attached the sides on the outer edge of the front and back instead of the inner side.  This does not seems like a huge deal… until you try to assemble your back rest.  If you’re a visual learner, see below:BenchOops BenchAssembly1

This is the wrong way.

Drill pilot holes and then screw the boards together with 2-1/2″ screws (we’re still in the wrong here, too):

BenchAssembly2

Here’s where we had casualty #2 and were forced to stop for the day.  I’m telling you, folks, this pallet wood is strong!  This was once a Phillips-head, now it is scrap metal:

IMG_2024

Begin Day Two:

Sand the 1x6s and 1x4s with 80 grit paper, followed by 120 grit paper.

Dry fit the newly sanded 1x6s and 1x4s for the seat and seat-back.  Trim if needed (I used a miter saw).  I highly recommend dry fitting as the boards are probably not the same thicknesses and, since they are varying widths, it is best to make sure the edges of the seat planks line up with the edges of the base 2x4s.

Cut another 2×4 in half  for the front legs and use 2x4s cut to your desired height (I trimmed about 30% off) for the back legs.  See the leg placement diagram below.  Again, drill pilot holes and use 2-1/2″ screws.  I used 3 screws per leg– this may be overkill, but I was planning ahead for Halloween-candy-induced weight gain.

While placing my extra screws, I broke a drill bit (Casualty #3) and stripped out another Phillips-Head (Casualty #4).  Luckily, we bought extra Phillips’ heads at the end of Day One (when we were forced into retirement by equipment malfunctions).  The drill bit is permanently in the bench. Beautiful.

BenchLeg

BenchSkeleton

At this point, I realized that the longest board I had was the pallet support 2×4- same size as the back of the base.  I had to shim the 2×4 in order for it to fit between the back two legs (it was too short since I placed the sides of the base in the wrong spot, as discussed above).  Since you’ve read carefully, and you’ve learned from our mistake, you won’t have to do this step… right? 😉

I dry fit the back slats.  I trimmed and dry fit again.  I trimmed again.  [Repeat].

I then used our nail gun (you can use good ol’ hammer/nails) to install the seat slats.  I wanted the back-rest slats slightly at an angle, so I placed a skinny scrap board a few inches from the back of the seat (on my newly installed seat slats).  I then nailed the back slats to the board and to the back-rest 2×4 (the one I had to shim, but you won’t because you learned from our rookie mistake… right? ;)).

I polyurethaned the entire bench for lasting power, but this part is optional.

And… Voila!  You’ve made a pallet bench!Bench

Here she is overlooking our Winter Garden (sorry for the sogginess… it has been raining so much lately!):

WinterGarden

Well, our F-R-E-E pallet bench turned out to cost a little money in replacement equipment (RIP 1 hammer, 1 drill bit, 2 Phillips-Heads).  We’re down to approximately 22 pallets now.  Anyone need a pallet…or three?

Update 1: Several of you have asked how we attached the back. We screwed in a board to the seat slats, and then nailed the back slats to the board. Hope these pictures will explain:
DSC_0511
DSC_0512

Update:  This is a MUCH EASIER way to dismantle pallets.  I wish we would have known before we did this project!!  CLICK HERE to save yourself a lot of time.

We linked up to:

Funky Junk Interiors

Life in Velvet

 

29 thoughts on “How-To: Pallet Wood Bench

  1. Very cool projects – lots of work – youthful energy not wasted!

    Did I get a side glance of a bearded wonder?

    I shaved mine off at age 40 and the dog growled at me – an intruder.

    • That is definitely a “bearded wonder”. I think he grew that facial hair immediately after he bent that hammer! 😉 Thanks for visiting and all of the support!!

  2. Can’t say I’ve ever bent a hammer on anything before, I had no idea pallets were so resilient! I’ll have to keep that in mind if the urge every strikes to dismantle one. =) The bench is amazing! I love it! Thanks so much for stopping by chapter37 and for your kind comments!
    Abby recently posted…The Black and Blue DresserMy Profile

  3. I love this bench! The alternating lengths of the slats on the back is such a great touch too. Your poor hammer looks so sad in that picture. I’m sure it was a ton of work. I’m hoping to start some pallet projects soon, so I guess I should start mentally preparing myself for the work I’ve got ahead of me. I would love for you to share this on the Thursday S.T.Y.L.E. Link Party I cohost. http://addicted2diy.com/2014/02/06/thursday-s-t-y-l-e-link-party-6/
    Katie @ Addicted 2 DIY recently posted…Thursday S.T.Y.L.E. Link Party #6My Profile

    • Hi Katie! You can totally do this project– hardest part is dismantling pallets, but after that, you’re set! I’ll definitely link up! Thanks for stopping in!

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    • Thanks, Brian! We’re so glad we have found a new, easier method of cutting down pallets (bottom of the post). We are cutting some down as we speak! Thanks for stopping by!

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