We built our own... coffee table

We recently got access to a living room for the first time in years… (Basically, one of our flatmates moved out and we were able to replace him with a sofa and a TV instead of another person.) This was really exciting, but also a bit of a challenge. We splurged a bit on an amazing sofa, but didn’t want to spend too much else on the furniture… but we play a lot of board games and drink a lot of tea. So that meant we needed a coffee table.

I love trawling Pinterest for ideas of things to make and build, and something that kept cropping up were coffee tables made out of old haulage pallets. Cue some Gumtree trawling, a bus journey to and from an old warehouse, and hey presto: the project began. If you want to do something similar, read on:

home made coffee table salvaged wooden pallets

How to make your own pallet coffee table

You will need:

  • An old pallet
  • A saw (I did this by hand, but if you have a power saw, more power to your elbow. And you have my jealousy.)
  • A sander (either elbow grease or, thankfully, in my case I was able to borrow a power sander from P’s dad.)
  • Varnish and a brush
  • Hairpin legs
  • Screws


  1. Choose your pallet. I went for one where the planks were already in pretty good condition and pretty close together so the surface of the table wouldn’t have big gaps between the planks (and I wouldn’t have to fill them in with spare bits of wood).

  2. Decide what size you want your table to be. I pretty much eyeballed it based on how much space we had in the room, and how big the pallet was to start. Mark out the size it needs to be on the pallet and decide which way you want the planks to go before you start cutting. (I did this based on not wanting to have to slice through too many planks; if you’re less lazy, decide based on what you think looks best!)

  3. Cut the table down to size. Sand the rough edges down too.

  4. Sand the surface of the table so it’s smooth. Clean off any dust.

  5. Varnish it in your chosen shade - I used a dark-ish wood stain first, and applied a couple of coats. Then I varnished it - my chosen varnish took three coats. You’ll need to leave it to dry for several hours between coats; the cat didn’t like being kept out of His Living Room for that long, but anything’s preferable to coating him in varnish too.

  6. Once it’s fully varnished, flip it upside-down and position your table legs.

  7. Screw them in. Because my legs are slightly too big for the thicker parts of the pallet where I was able to screw them in, they stick out in a ‘charmingly handmade’ way from the surface a little. I tell people this is part of the charm of DIY furniture. I think hairpin legs possibly also come in standard sizes so there wasn’t much I could do here.

Whole cost of table?

  • £3 - bus fare to pick up the pallets
  • £0 - Tools; I borrowed or already had everything I needed.
  • £0 - Pallets; these were free.
  • £0.50 - varnish and wood-stain (based on the amount I used…)
  • £19.99 - hairpin legs (eBay).

£23.49 - total.

OK, so you can get a similar-sized coffee table from IKEA for £16, but personally I don’t think it’s as pretty as the one I made. Plus, you have to pay for travel to and from your IKEA, or home delivery. So I still think I win this one, a bit. Either way, the smug feeling of having made my own is a definite bonus!