So, you have an extra pallet lying around. Maybe you think you can’t do anything with it but in fact, it can be the key ingredient for your next DIY. You can actually use a spare pallet for a variety of projects around the house but if you want a neat addition to your backyard, you could always use it for extra seating by using it to make a bench.
What Do You Need?
The first question for any DIY is what do you need to get the job done? First, you need to know your materials. Obviously, you will need a pallet. Your best choice here is to find a pallet made of oak or some other sturdy timber. This will help to make sure your bench lasts even as it sits outdoors.
Next, you will want to make sure you have a 2×4. This will need to be about 8 feet long and your best bet is to get a pressure treated option. Pressure treated wood is much better at lasting longer. It will do better warding off the elements and it’s much less likely to fall victim to termites and other pests.
You will also need some screws to hold your bench together. For size, you will want 2 and a half inch deck screws. Your easiest option is no drill needed star head screws. If you do decide to use the drill in screws, you will want to make sure you have a drill with the proper bit on hand. Otherwise, a power screw-gun will do the trick.
Now it’s time to gather the rest of your tools. As far as larger tools go, you will need a saw. A circular saw is easiest but you can also use a reciprocating saw as long as it has a wood cutting blade.
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Additionally, you will want both a hammer and a nail-pulling crowbar. Finally, you will need a few smaller item to ensure that you have correct angles and distances. For this, your simplest options are a regular tape measure and a carpenter’s square. You can also use a level in a pinch if you want to make sure you are creating a straight and level surface. A marker will also serve you well to keep track of the measurements you make.
How Long Does This Take?
If you are sure of yourself and have done a few DIYs before, you should be able to finish this project in 2 or 3 hours. If you aren’t as sure about your skill level or want to take things in slower, more measured steps, this can make a great weekend project.
Step 1: Prepare Your Pallet
The first thing you will want to do when you are ready to start your bench is to gather your pallet and prepare it to make a bench.
The first thing you will want to do is to remove a plank on the pallet – the center plank is usually best. This will give you an even spot to cut your pallet into sections.
When removing the plank from the pallet, you will want to use your crowbar and hammer. Be careful not to break anything off unevenly so that your bench doesn’t have a jagged corner.
However, you won’t want to cut your pallet directly in half all the time. You can also measure out a certain height for the back of your bench and cut accordingly. Make your back to high, though, and you won’t have much of your plank left to create a seat. If you really want a large seat and large back, you can use sections of two separate planks. For your average bench, though, one plank cut to have about a 17-inch back is enough. This will leave your back slightly shorter than the seat of your bench.
To cut your pallet, you will want to measure your distance – in this case, 17 inches – carefully and mark the distance with your marker. Then you will want to set your circular saw to cut two inches and make the marked cuts on your pallet. If this isn’t deep enough to cut through, simply flip your pallet over and finish the cuts from the other side.
Once you have the pallet prepped, you can set the back vertically on top of the seat with the end of the seat where you removed the plank resting underneath the matching open end of the bench’s back.
Step 2: Make the Armrests and Legs
For the next step, you will want to make the armrests and legs of your bench. After all, you don’t want your bench to rest on the ground and armrests are both visually appealing and comfortable.
This is where you will need your 2×4 because you have already used your pallet. You will make the armrests and legs the same way – that’s why this is all one step. To do this, you will want to cut your 2×4 into 4 equal sections. For an 8-foot 2×4, these sections will be 21 and ¾ inches each.
Now you have a bit of freedom and creativity. The bench legs can be as high or as low as you want them. All you have to do is to screw them on vertically to the side of your bench both even with the back and even with the very front of your bench. At this point, your front legs will stick above the seat – don’t worry about this. Once you have chosen your bench height, you can use your drill to screw the legs into place. You will want to make sure you drill these into place straight up and down and at the same height on all four legs. If you don’t, your bench may wobble or sit unevenly.
When you screw the legs into place, you will want to make sure to use 4 screws each. This way, you have 2 screws on each of the planks of the pallet – both top and bottom.
Next up is the armrests. Remember how you had excess wood sticking up from the top of your bench legs? This is where you will want to attach the armrests, which will sit so that they lay flat with the broadest part facing up.
Step 3: Additional Options
When your bench is finished, you can add additional touches. An example would be to add finish to give it a shine or to add a seat and throw pillows to make it more comfortable.
Author: Hi there, I’m Woodworking Pete Alman. I’m a former carpenter turned writer, and proud resident of Nashville, Tennessee. When not working on a project in my shed, I’m lifting weights or hanging out with my three dogs (Dobermans).