16-Apr-2012

Writing desk made from recycled wooden pallets

I needed a writing desk/dining table for the cabin. It would have been easier and less time-consuming to just buy a cheap-ass folding table from one of the big-box office stores or scrounge one from a local thrift shop, but as I was leaving work one day I discovered a pile of wooden pallets out near the dumpster. Up until recently, I had been resisting the urge to throw such finds into the back of the truck and bring them home since my wife voiced her concern a few years back. She had grown weary of all the wooden pallet furniture I was making and bringing into the house. I was on a roll back then — made a cutting table (which became my standing writing desk since the wife didn’t want it in the kitchen), a workbench (or two), and two six-foot-tall bookshelves. But since this one is for my cabin, I don’t think she’d mind.

Here’s a Youtube video I posted of the finished product with a fresh coat of stain just applied:

I originally tried applying linoleum tile squares to the table surface ($17.60 for a box of faux granite at Lowe’s), but that just looked tacky and accentuated every little uneven surface, so I tore it all out and went with the bare wood surface. Good enough.

I make no effort to hide the fact that this writing desk was a wooden pallet in a past life. To me, that’s all part of the charm.

Workshop in the garage

Tools used:
– Pencil
– Hammer
– Reciprocating saw
– Chop saw
– Electric sander
– Cordless screwdriver
– Electric palm sander
– Electric drill
– Pry bar
– 3-inch nails
– 3-inch screws (if the wood is too hard to hammer nails into)

I don’t normally use a T-square or tape measure when I’m building these kinds of things. Each piece is sized relative to the other pieces I’m working with. I usually figure where each piece will fit, mark it with a pencil, then cut. With one exception: I wanted to get the desk height just right, so I Googled the standard desk height and discovered it to be 28 inches, so I cut the leg pieces to be about that size, give or take an inch or two.

Building a writing desk/dining table for the cabin

Brief note on tools…

For the first few wooden pallet projects, the only tools I had was a hammer, a crowbar, and a boxful of nails. It took me a full day breaking down the pallets, pulling out all the nails, and getting them into the sizes and pieces I needed.

Pro tip: BUY A RECIPROCATING SAW AND A CHOP SAW.

Take advantage of the fact that you are human. Learn to use tools! Better yet: learn to use POWER TOOLS! Instead of wrestling with every single nail and trying to pull it out of the wood (in some cases splitting the wood in the process and rendering it useless), just cut right through it with a reciprocating saw. Then take your hammer to all the little nail bits that are still sticking out and pound them back into the wood. The chop saw is self-explanatory. You can spend five minutes sawing a piece of wood by hand or you can use a chop saw to get the exact size you need in two seconds. DONE.

Building a writing desk/dining table for the cabin

Building a writing desk/dining table for the cabin

Building a writing desk/dining table for the cabin

Sanded down all the surfaces because splinters suck. Took my reciprocating saw to all the uneven edges. All that’s left to be done is the staining. Break time!

Building a writing desk/dining table for the cabin

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