Lately I’ve been dabbling in wood working. I’m certainly no expert at it but I actually find it relaxing and it brought out a creative side of me I didn’t even know existed. A few weeks ago I purchased 70 bags of topsoil for what I hope turns out to be a garden at some point in the future. They were delivered on a standard 40 x 48 inch wooden pallet. From the look of it, this pallet has had its fair share of use. As I stood there in my garage looking at this worn and weathered pallet, I noticed a sense of beauty about its rusted nails and abused gray wood.
I pondered what the story was behind it and how many adventures it had been on. So what did I do? I started to dismantle it with a pry bar and a hammer so I could use it to burn in the backyard fire pit I had recently finished. After I had finished taking it apart, it laid on my garage floor in pieces and I suddenly had an idea, I don’t know why or what had prompted it, but for some reason I thought to myself “Hey, that would make a neat looking coffee table.”
My intent was to build a coffee table for my living room, as my current coffee table had a lovely 70’s flair to it that I wasn’t exactly fond of. The first task at hand was to decide what I would use for the table legs. I noticed that the 3 stringers (the pieces of wood that support the deck boards) had arches cut in them, this were used to accommodate the forklift in its previous life. I found these stringers to be perfect for the legs as they are sturdy and the arch cut into them would provide a decorative look. I cut the stringers right down the middle of the arches and was able to get 4 identical pieces that I could use for the legs.
To create the top of the table I was initially going to lay 5 of the deck boards parallel to one another. After laying these out it looked nice but since I’m recently creative, I knew I could do better. I decided to cut the deck boards into random lengths and laid them out so each cut was offset from the neighboring board. Doing this seemed to give the table a little more personality. I now had finished the legs for the table and the boards I would use for the table top. I used the remaining wood left from the pallet to attach the table top boards together and provide additional support.
In order to assemble everything together I simply used some wood screws I already had and some trim nails. In the process of building the table I came across two pieces of rebar I had in my garage, using my newly discovered creative side I cut these and placed them between the table legs on each end. I did this by drilling a hole (not all the way through) on the inside of each leg just big enough to hammer the rebar into.
All of the above took me approximately 2 hours or so and I was quite proud of what I had made, it looked pretty darn good! This is when another light bulb went off in my head. What if I could actually sell this magnificent coffee table I had just created. In the past I had attended a few flea markets with my wife and I knew there was at least some market for my creation. I relayed my grand plan to sell the table to my wife. She was immediately against my plan. Why you ask? Because she loved the table and wanted to keep it. I assured her that if it sold I would create another one just for her.
This brought her on board with my master plan to sell it. In preparing my creation for sale I put a coat of polyurethane on the table’s surface for some extra protection. I then created a local and free online classified ad for the table. I was about to list it for 50 dollars, but this was balked at by my better half. She thought I’d be able to get at least 100 dollars for it. To me this price sounded ridiculously high, so I did what any self respecting husband would do and I listed it for 100 dollars. I didn’t actually think anyone would pay that much for a table I created out of free pallet wood.
Later that afternoon I checked my email and to my surprise 3 people were interested in the table. The first of them actually said how it was exactly what she had been looking for. Since I’m a firm believer in first come, first serve I responded to the first email informing her the table was still available. Within a few minutes she replied and wanted to come pick it up right away. An hour later I was loading the table in her car and in turn she paid me 100 dollars for my beautiful creation.
This coffee table experience led me to the realization that there is potential to make some money doing this sort of thing. This is something that can be done with almost no initial investment. The material to build items like this is freely available in the form of pallets or other scrap wood. Do a quick search in your local online classifieds for free pallets and you will likely find a few people giving them away. Another option is to visit any of your local retailers and ask if they have any pallets they are trying to get rid of. Most places are more than happy to have you take the pallets off their hands. I also want to stress that this isn’t only limited to coffee tables or even pallets for that matter, there are endless products you can create out of wood.