I do NOT Pinterest or Etsy. I waste/spend enough time on Facebook as it is (if you’ve seen my house you’ll know this is the truth).
I do not consider myself a ‘crafty’ person; but I do possess some skills. I can sew, I can type/word process, I have office and phone skills, I can paint, I can identify a good many tool items and I love hardware stores. IN fact, I’d rather spend hours in a hardware store than a shopping mall.
Every now and then I delude/convince myself that I can do a project. I’ve done a macramé plant holder, embroidery, a quilt (with a friend), installed electrical outlets. I’m really more of an idea/design person — not an actual worker bee — but that’s mostly because I lack the self-confidence and knowledge to complete some of the tasks I’d like to do.
Construction is one of those things that I know a bit about; I know nails and screws and nuts and bolts; hammers and crowbar/pullers, lumber measurements and the like. But the actual putting together of a project scares the creep out of me. Because math and saws and embarrassment and things falling apart.
I am surrounded by crafty people who post these really cute things they’ve done like corsages for prom, French-braids in hair, chairs, jewelry, yadda-yadda. I decided that I was going to try my hand(s) at pallet furniture. I’ve spent months looking at photos and websites with all manner of instructions and photos and videos. They all make me nervous because I have little skills in fractions and all that.
My husband is pretty handy with the tools, but usually if I say I want to learn or do a project, he kind of takes over. And, I kind of let him although it makes me mad. So, I usually bury the craft urges unless it’s cooking or photography or sewing.
We have this lovely deck that we use all the time. I’d love to be able to put furniture on it but the prices of patio furniture are out of my budget, so we have plastic chairs and folding chairs that get us by. If we have a dinner on the deck, we move the dining table outside with the falling apart dining chairs (another project I imagine I can do but don’t think I possess the skills and certainly don’t possess the money to have someone do it for me).
So, I decided I wanted to build a couch with end tables out of pallets. I gathered my pallets; free from some friends on Buy Nothing Redmond (*). My husband and teenage son thought I had lost (what was left of) my mind but they drove around with me and loaded them in the black beast, then unloaded them to stand at the side of the house for several months.
I spent still more time looking online for photos and instructions and trying to convince myself that I could actually do this. I got an unexpected day off from nannying and decided to just get started. None of the sites I looked at had clear, beginner’s instructions, so I asked for help from my handy-husband who promised to only help and not completely do it for me.
Couch with end tables from Pallets
Level: Intermediate (or beginner with some really construction-minded friends)
Materials We used:
1 – 7 ft. pallet
2 – standard pallets
2 boxes #8 x 2 inch star drive coated screws (we used brown)
1 box #9 x 3 inch star drive coated screws
2 – 1″ x 6″ x 8′ pine boards
1 – 1″ x 8″ x 10′ pine board
4 x 6 pressure treated scrap lumber
1 – 2″ x 4″ x 8′ lumber
Claw/puller and hammer
Tools we used:
Power drill driver
About $75 (without the pad and stain, just the sitting portion — no back) and about 10-20 hours of time.
So I drew a plan on a piece of paper so my husband could see what I was thinking…The basic idea is a long couch with attached end tables on feet.
An architect I’m not…
First thing we did was talk about the plans (over a beer at our favorite Irish place). We brainstormed and threw ideas around and decided we’d just take each step as it came because we didn’t have the dimensions of the pallets and couldn’t remember the quality the pallet wood was in. I’m not sure the beer helped but it certainly didn’t hurt and we didn’t start the project until the next morning anyway, so not drinking while operating power tools was involved.
The next day we brought up a paint cloth to put on the deck so we didn’t scratch the decking material. I wanted to build in place so we didn’t have to cart the huge monstrosity up some narrow deck steps. We chose three pallets to use; the others were in pretty poor shape so we’ll use those for other projects like maybe the chicken coop.
We laid the two shorter pallets on the ground and then the longer pallet on top. The idea was to see what boards we needed to remove and if we needed to purchase any 1″x6″ wood (we did). We also brought up some scrap pressure treated lumber left over from the retaining wall/fence project last year. The plan was to use either the 4×6 or the 2×10’s for the legs.
The next thing I did was to remove the boards we wouldn’t be using or the ones that were damaged that needed to be replaced. YOU could remove them all and then replace them to be more spatially pleasing, or just the ones that you aren’t going to use. The idea is that you’ll re-use them in the project somewhere else, but some of them were pretty damaged and by the time I pulled the staples or nails out others were split or damaged too.
One of the main frame 2×4’s was split so we used wood glue and clamps to hold it together. As it was 80+ degrees this entire weekend, this was an awesome time to get a drink of water, catch some lunch and take a trip to the big box hardware store for screws and lumber. We removed the clamps about 5 hours later.
The next step was to set-up some saw horses so we weren’t bending over during construction. We laid some particle board across to stabilize them and give us a flat surface to work on. This was pretty helpful and made it easier to get to all the angles of the project. You will need to measure your pallet(s) to get the right length of the boards. It’s also helpful to decide which side is the front and which side is the back of your project (I marked a “B” on the back of each short pallet and on the long pallet so we attached them correctly).
Using the 2 inch screws, we attached pine boards to the short pallets to make the end tables; I chose to have 3 panels on each end as the table. After we attached the pine boards into the end spaces to make the end tables, we took the long pallet and laid it on top; spanning the two shorter pallets / end tables. We found we needed to remove/adjust/replace a couple of the boards on the end table pieces (under the seating pallet) to make it fit together. When we had it square and balanced, we screwed the three pieces together with the 2 inch screws.
Because the ‘front’ of the couch still had some rough edges and imperfections, and for added stability, we attached a 1 x 8 x 10 ‘fascia’ board to the front to clean it up. We had to cut a bit off the end to make it match.
Now you need to turn the entire piece upside down to install the legs. Originally, husband wanted to use the two 4×10 pieces laid front to back with notches cut out of the middle to be the legs. One of the boards was too short and one was too long; I told him I had envisioned legs, not bars, so we decided to cut the 4×6 into 4 pieces 16 inches in length. We screwed them into the bottom using the 3 inch screws, stabilized them with 2 x 4 (scrap pieces cut to measurement at big-box hardware store) and shimmed as necessary.
Shims are your friend…
Turned it over and we have a couch with end tables! No back yet, but it’s time to clean up, make dinner and get ready for the work week.
The couch is too large for the pad, but it’s comfortable!
We still have to build and install a back; we’ve gone back and forth between a static back and an adjustable back. I thought it was too much work to build the adjustable back, so we’re just going to build a frame, attach boards to it (I’m going to find a couple more good pallets to scavenge from) and make it structurally sound with some braced 2×4’s.
Then it’s time to find a cushion for it. I had a friend suggest that we use a futon mattress which was a fantastic idea until I discovered that the couch seat size would mean I’d need a King or California King futon mattress which run about $300 (I checked IKEA, Target, Macy’s, Sears, JCPenneys, Wayfair and Overstock). That kind of killed the budget, so I’m back to the original plan of buying foam at the fabric store and making a slip cover for it out of patio material. The back and the cushion will be in a 2nd post.
You might want to decide what size pad you want to use and make the project fit the pad, instead of my way. Just a suggestion.
The dog isn’t a necessary tool or material, but he made sure we kept on task.
(*) if you have a Buy Nothing page in your area on Facebook, I encourage you to get involved. It is really a fun way to repurpose and recycle lots of stuff you don’t need, want or use but don’t want to sell or throw away. I’d prefer to give stuff away than to throw it away because then someone else can use it and I don’t feel quite so guilty for letting it leave my possession. Hoarders unite!