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Expandable Pallet Table

I wanted to build a table that would seat four people for everyday use but then would extend to seat 8/10 people if we had friends/families over. The idea of using wood from pallets appealed to me as I wanted to keep costs down and because the idea of giving old products new life appeals to me.

I’m certainly not a carpenter, and the whole process was a learning process for me - if I were to make the table again I think that I could do it a lot better and a lot quicker!

The table is two separate tables that are locked together, and therefore, it has eight legs. Overall I think the table used five pallets to make, and I had to buy four pieces of timber (44 by 70mm by 670mm) for the legs as well as four pieces of timber (44 by 18mm by 1245mm) for the long horizontals. The most expensive part of the table is the polycarbonate sheets which sit on the surface of the table which was £77. The total cost of the build (including screws etc.) was roughly £130.

The table measures 935mm by 1245mm when its closed and 1665 by 1245mm when it’s extended. The height of the table is 750mm.

I started by removing the timber from the pallets using a crowbar and hammer - This was a lot harder than I thought it would be. I then had to remove any nails that were left in the planks; I found the easiest way to do this was to cut the nails quite short using a Dremel so that they would be less likely to bend when knocking them out with a hammer.

I allowed all the wood to dry out and the I sanded the sides with a belt sander and a 40 grit belt to clean them up. I then went over again with an 80 grit belt to remove the majority of the fluffy bits.

The next step was to cut the wood along the length of the plank using a table saw - As the surface of the table is the “edge” of each plank, this meant that I had double some edges to work with. It also meant that the edges were a lot squarer than they were before (I was oblivious that pallets are not made with nice neat planks!). Each plank was now 35mm wide.

I then cut each plank to make sure that it was 950mm long - after a few mistakes, the lengths of each plank was finally 935mm long!

Next I drilled 2 x 10mm hole in the same spot on each plank to allow me to insert a threaded rod through in order to gang sand the edges of the planks at the same time - The plan was that the rod could also be put into the finished table to lock it when it was in the closed position (this hasn't worked!). If I were to build the table again I would completely skip this step and would just sand the top of the table when it was finished - Measuring where the holes needed to go took a very long time and ended up being pointless anyway.

After the edges had been sanded I screwed each of the planks to my long “horizontals” - Every other plank was connected to alternating horizontals (Hopefully the picture explains it better than I have). I put a 4mm gap in between each plank so that there would be no friction when the table is extended; this was done by resting tile spacers in-between the planks when attaching them to the horizontals. I left a gap between the horizontals and the planks to allow for brackets to be fitted later

Next I needed to create eight legs. The legs are made from timber which is 670mm long, 70mm thick and 44mm wide. These were screwed and glued to pieces of wood which were cut from the leftovers of the horizontals. These measured 200mm long, 18mm thick and 44mm wide. These legs were then attached to the ends of each of the horizontals to make the legs.

At this point, I flipped the table over as I thought it was pretty much finished. It was sturdy in one direction but VERY wobbly in the other. To fix this problem, each leg was connected to heavy duty right angle brackets which then connected directly to the planks.

Finally, I put some clear rubber feet on the table and then the polycarbonate sheets - In hindsight, I would have probably had chose toughened glass instead of polycarbonate as the plastic does have quite a loud plastic sound when you touch it. I have since learned that toughened plastic would have been cheaper too!

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Oliver Kingston

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