Pallet Wood Workbenches

In Tutorial by jackmanworks@gmail.com0 Comments

These workbenches were made 100% from pallet wood. The tops are 36″ x 40″ x 2″ thick, all laminated from pallet slats. The main frame is fabricated from 3.5″ x 2.5″ pallet timbers and 1.5″ thick pallet slats, all from a super heavy duty pallet. The casters are locking 4″ casters. Everything is fastened from the underside, or the inside of the frame, leaving zero visible fasteners.

The top includes poplar, pine, white oak, red oak, maple, and cherry!

I haven’t yet decided on a finish for the workbench, but right now I think I’m going to put a really thin coat of epoxy to seal and protect the top. Many more modifications will be made to this in the future, including a bench vice, storage underneath, and I’m sure many other things. I have a feeling these are just going to be a canvas.

■ Music by BrucePeninsula: http://soundcloud.com/brucepeninsula/dont-wake-the-giant
■ Pallet Upcycle Challenge 2016 playlist: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLVRSIqwQ1XHq95MdlOeOe7k6kwq4sUbGi

 

Build Details

My lumberyard: 17 regular pallets, 2 large pallets.

And 2 massive pallets that I used for the legs and frame of the bench (the Element is always hungry for more lumber).

I disassemble my pallets by cutting the runners off of both ends. This eliminates the nails on both ends of the slats as well as the crappy cracked wood that is usually on the ends. Then it’s just a little bit of work with the hammer/pry-bar/elbow grease to remove them from the center runner.

All piece were cut to rough length – 37″ since I wanted the final width of the benchtop to be 36″.

This became really repetitive really quick.

I use a metal detector to check all the slats for nails and set those aside that don’t pass the TSA screening.

The fun part is removing the nails (/s), it typically just takes a hammer, but for any cutoff nails I just use a nail set to coax them out of the slats.

At this point, any wide slats (~6″) are split in half.

I split the stack into thin, medium, and thick and planed them all down until each pile was smooth.

Then the whole stack is run through the table saw to get them down to 2-1/2″ wide (I’m shooting for a 2″ thick benchtop).

All of the slats are then divided into 12′ sections for glueup.

Lots of glue. That little bottle had to be refilled from my gallon jug 4 times during this process.

Both benchtops in the clamps and set to dry for the night. I left glue out between each 12″ section (you’ll see why in the next step) and just clamped everything together in one big slab.

After unclamping, each 12″ section is just wide enough to fit through my planer. At this point, I bring it down to it’s 2″ finished thickness.

This is when it gets exciting.

Each 12″ section is cut down parallel for the next glue-up.

And each one is cut down to the 36″ finished length.

I use biscuits to join each section of the top together. This holds them all in the right positions during clamping and reinforces the joint.

The biscuit glue-up, just add a little honey.

While that behemoth is drying, I start with the legs and frame. These massive 3.5″ x 2.5″ pallet runners are cut down to length for the legs. I decided to leave these rough (because I’m a savage like that).

These thick slats are planed down to consistent thickness to use on the frame.

This jig is used as an alternative to a jointer. I get one side straight and then rip all of these frame pieces down to 3″ wide.

I sketch out some giant dovetails to use as a connection joint on one side of the frame.

These are cut out on the bandsaw and I use the first one as a template to trace on the other pieces.

The dovetails are then transferred to the legs.

And the pockets are bored out using a forstner bit.

Then each is fine tuned with some hammer and chisel work.

Not a bad result for my first ever dovetails (go big or go home, as they say).

I hide all of the fasteners on the inside of the workbench frame. These hold the dovetails in place while the glue in the joints dry.

For the connection going the other direction, I decided to use a dado joint. This is a process similar to what you would see in timber-frame or deck construction.

I use my circular saw and speed square to cut to the left and right lines, then free hand the cuts in between those to points.

I knockout the waste with a hammer and fine-tune the cut with a chisel.

The final frame attachment is done similar to the dovetails – glue and hidden screws through the inside of the frame.

Before flipping the frame for the workbench over, I attach these heavy-duty 4″ locking casters. I pre-drill before attaching the screws to prevent the end grain from splitting.

To attach the top, I decided to go with pocket holes. I would usually avoid this with a finished table, but it worked perfect for a workbench.

Each runner got 3 screws through it into the top. It really pulled everything together.

Then just sand through the grits and they’re all done and ready to use! (even though I don’t want to beat them up now). After the build video was done, I added some slats across the bottom supports for some storage under the benches. I also decided upon a finish – 2 part epoxy. The epoxy soaks into the surface to give me a nice color & a nice hard surface, while also filling in the few remaining nail holes left behind on the pallet wood.

Leave a Comment