Are you ready for the amazingness that is this pallet desk? It is no secret that I love anything and everything that has to do with pallet wood. Pallets are an amazing source of free wood that is usually incredibly strong and beautiful. If you are going for the farmhouse look, this wood is perfect as it is usually already weathered. (You don’t have to beat it with a hammer to get that worn-in look.) This desk was based off the plans over at Shanty 2 Chic, just altered slightly for the recycled wood.
The trickiest part of using pallet wood is getting the pallets apart. If you have lots of time and patience, you can take the nails out one by one, but this can leave a whole bunch of holes in your wood that you don’t want. I have found that the best way to get them apart and still leave the wood mostly intact is to use a reciprocating saw, or a sawzall. With the right blade, it will cut through the nails between the boards like butter! For this desk we had two piles of pallets about this size- most of the wood that will come off the pallet itself isn’t sturdy enough for furniture but is great for other kinds of crafts. You need about 10 or so pallets to have enough wood for the desk, and you may need to buy some extra boards at the hardware store to supplement, especially 4x4s for the legs. You don’t want to skimp there!
Sorry there aren’t more photos of the top of the desk. It was a whole lot of eyeballing, but I will explain it as best I can. Going off the measurements from Shanty 2 Chic, I laid out some of the prettiest boards 1x4s and 1x6s I had. I cut and spliced other boards to fill the rest of the space. The outline is in 2x4s that were salvaged from an old fence. The underside is also braced with 2x4s, significantly more than the original plans called for because I am paranoid! After much sanding, I had the majority of a table top, with an unsettling number of holes. I used a wood filler to fill the spaces between boards or larger holes, and then sanded a whole lot more. I even busted out some wood files to get the boards mostly even. The pallet wood is seriously uneven, and I tried to make the tabletop as flat as possible without destroying the integrity of the wood.
Now comes the fun part. I used old 4x4s from a fence to make the base of the legs. I used the measurements from the Shanty 2 Chic plans to measure and cut the legs, and cute little feet for the base of the desk legs.
To make sure that when I screwed the legs together I had the right amount of grip, I pre-drilled holes in the legs at an angle.
The screws didn’t all line up perfectly flat to the wood, but that was okay with me, at least they gripped securely to the other piece.
When the main part of the desk legs were secured, I started on the braces. This got a little bit tricky as we had changed some of the measurements to make the desk slightly taller, but overall after some nail gun magic and some hammer time, it got done! You can really see all the variations of the different wood in this photo.
Each leg has 4 total braces, two bracing the top and two bracing the feet.
With the braces and legs secure, we added our cute little feet. This got a little tricky too, as one of our feet broke when we screwed it in. We had to glue it back together twice with liquid nails to get it to stick.
Here is the finished underside of the desk- check out all that bracing on the desk top!
And here is the finished build. I am so happy with how it turned out. Now for a few coats of stain.
So I used two different kinds of stains, and let me tell you now- do not ever stain the way I did! I put a coat of grey and then a coat of dark brown and I put it on way way to thick. I treated it like paint rather than like stain and boy did I regret that! After 24 hours of drying the top was still sticky, so I put it in the sun to dry, and 24 hours later it was still sticky. So, I brought out the sander.
After about 2 packs of sanding pads, a gummed up sander, and days of work, I finally had most of the stain off. The final result was a shipwreck-esque black and natural color, with the grains and red color of the wood really showing through. I added just the lightest touch of grey to the natural portions to even everything out and called it a day. With a coat of flat wax, the desk was ready.
I think it looks beautiful next to the storage shelves! And it makes for a perfect office corner. I am planning to make one more desk for an L-shaped work space.