How to Build a Side Table from Pallet Wood

No experience at woodworking, but can’t find that perfect table to complete your lounge or bedroom? This is a beginner’s guide to learning a new skill!


Tip 1 IconSourcing Pallet Wood

Pallet wood is an ideal material to work with and usually it can be salvaged for free. Make use of local social media groups or freecycling schemes to request pallet wood, businesses in your area may also have a few broken pallets lying around which they would be grateful for you to take off their hands, but remember to ask before you take.


We found an advert for pallet wood advertised as fire wood, it was fairly broken up but we were able to salvage enough pieces for what we needed. The best part about using free materials is that it doesn’t matter if things go wrong!


Tip 2 IconWhat You Will Need

Pallets (one may be enough, depending on the size you want your table to be), hammer and crow bar, tape measure/ruler, pencil, saw, screws, carpenter's square, sandpaper, drill and 3mm drill bit (optional). Ensure that your wood has been heat treated and is safe to use before proceeding.


Tip 3 IconDesigning Your Table

The first stage to building your table is designing it. You can follow our template or alter it to suit. Work out what height you want your table to be, this may differ depending on whether you want to use it as a bedside table or coffee table.


Next, how much surface area do you need? Once you have an idea of the size you want, cut a large piece of paper to this size and lay it on the floor in position to give you a visual representation of the amount of space your table will take up. You could even arrange objects such as lamps and drinks coasters on the piece of paper to check that everything will sit nicely on top. Measure the width of your pallet wood and work out how many pieces you will need to lay side by side to make up the total width of your design. Once you are happy, make a note of your dimensions and work out how many pieces of wood you will need of each length.

Table Diagram


Our Dimensions:

  • Legs - 650mm x 4 pieces
  • Cross supports - 320mm x 4 pieces
  • Top - 250mm x 4 pieces
  • Shelf - 220mm x 4 pieces


Tip 4 IconBreaking Up Your Pallets

Using the measurements from your design, work out where you can cut your pallet to make the best use of it. For longer lengths of wood, it may be necessary to remove the nails from joints and ease the pieces of wood apart. This can be done by hammering a crow bar between the two planks and then levering them apart. Don’t be scared to use some force, pallets are made to be sturdy! Any marks you make on the wood will add to the character and rustic nature of your table.


Tip 5 IconMark Your Cutting Lines

Now that you have all your pieces of wood ready to build, you can get more of a sense of what your table will look like. Measure out all your pieces of wood using a tape measure. Make a small pencil mark and then use a carpenter's square pressed up to the side of the wood to draw a straight cutting line across the width of the plank. Make sure to indicate which side of the line is waste and which you need to keep.


Cutting Lines


Tip 6 IconCut Your Lengths of Wood

Ensure that your plank of wood is tightly secured on a workbench with your cutting line a centimetre or so over the edge. Position the saw slightly to the outside of your marked cutting line to ensure you maintain the full length that you have measured, you can always saw more off or sand down the edges. Hold the saw at a 45 degree angle and draw the saw back several times to make a grove. You will then be able to begin a forward and back sawing motion.




When you are nearly all the way through, use your spare hand or ask somebody else to hold the piece of wood you are cutting off to prevent it snapping off and reduce splintering. Use sandpaper or a wood rasp to remove any splintered edges. Repeat for each cut you need to make.


Tip 7 IconScrew Your Table Together

Now that all your pieces are cut to length you can begin screwing them together. Initially, lay out your pallet wood in approximate positions so you can identify how it fits together.


Screw Together


Use clamps and/or a workbench to hold the pieces of wood together in place. Mark a small cross on the surface where your screw needs to be and use a 3mm drill bit to drill a pilot hole to help guide your screw into the wood.


Clamp and Drill


First, attach the legs to the cross supports. We have used 2 screws per joint, however you can use as many as you feel necessary.


Table Cross Supports


Next, screw each plank of the bottom shelf onto the cross support pieces of wood at either end, joining your two sets of legs together.


Table Top


Finally, add the top of your table. Screw through from the top, into the top cross support planks.


Tip 7IconFinishing Touches

Sand down your table using sandpaper to remove any remaining splinters. You can choose to wax or varnish your table to give the desired finish, or alternatively you may like to leave it as it is.


Finished Table


And voila, before you know it you’ve made yourself a wooden table and gained some carpentry skills. Pop your table in the desired position and dress with lamps, photo frames or plants, your unique rustic piece of furniture is sure to be a conversation starter and the envy of all your visitors.