Pallet wood table repair

A little repair job I’ve been getting on with over the past couple of weeks for an old pallet wood table. The table has been sat in the garden for the past ten years, and was in desperate need of repair (or chucking out!).

The original table was a bit of an experiment using irregular forms and material from only one pallet which led to its slightly unusual design. Each leg assembly consists of a leg and corner block, with a small piece of frame sandwiched between the leg and corner block. All four leg assemblies were then attached to four longer side frame pieces, with the tabletop attached to the longer side frames.

The first part of the repair involved replacing a leg and two of the longer frame pieces. I had some pallet wood that was the same thickness and width (recovered from a chair I made at the same time that had long since bit the dust), so this was just a matter of cutting to the right length, removing the old components, scraping off the old glue, and attaching the new pieces with screws and glue.

New tabletop pieces were then made from pallet wood using the following process: (1) checking for any nails, loose knots and bad splits, (2) cutting to the correct width using the table saw, (3) planing to the right thickness, and (4) shaping the angles for each piece using a panel saw and the disc sander.

The tabletop slats were attached to the frame using finishing nails (as I wanted the nails to be hidden after painting) and glue. To avoid the nails splitting the slats, pilot holes were drilled for the nails, and I made a test piece first to check this would work.

After all the slats had been shaped and drilled, I gave them a couple of coats of acrylic paint. I wanted to paint the slats before attaching them to the frame to get a nice contrast between the painted table top and the weathered frame and legs.

The next stage was a dry assembly to ensure everything fitted correctly. I’m glad I did this, as something I hadn’t accounted for was that the paint added a tiny amount of width to each slat. When I used the original 6mm spacers between each slate, the fit of the tabletop to the frame was slightly off, so I had to make the spacers slightly smaller to adjust for the additional width created by the paint.

Each slat was then attached to the frame with the following process: (1) spread glue on the frame beneath the slat, (2) clamp the slat to the frame using a small piece of rubber to protect the paint, (3) hammer the nails most of the way in, (4) use a nail punch to make the nail flush with the tabletop, (5) wipe off any glue that splurged out with a wet cloth, (6) line up the next slat using the spacer and repeat 1-5.

The table was a little wobbly as the frame had warped a bit over the years, so I turned it upside down, measured each of the legs, and sanded a little off two legs until it rested on all four.

The last stage was to give the tabletop a final coat of paint using the following process: (1) lightly sand the existing paint with a fine abrasive pad, (2) wipe the slats with a tack cloth to remove any dust and particles, (3) apply the top coat of paint.

And voila! Old battered pallet table brought back to life!

A little happy accident: When I was replacing one of the side frame pieces, I didn’t want to use the side frame piece in the image below as it was so gnarly, although I ended up using it as it was the only piece I had that was long enough. However, now it’s made, I quite like the contrast between the super rough side frame and the crisp lines of the tabletop, so I might think about how to do something similar in future projects.


Nice project Matt! Table looking great :smiley:

1 Like