Hi! This is probably one of the easiest but most versatile things I’ve ever made. Its primary purpose is as a craft bench with storage, but the person I built it for is renting and wanted something versatile that she could reconfigure in another house in the future. All it is is stacked boxes. As I was building them I had them lying in all different positions and I could really see how many things you could make from a humble cube! Planter box, side table, shelves in heaps of different configurations (tall thin, long low, stepped). Add a lid and you’ve got a storage box. Awesome.
Notes about these boxes –
- It’s very important to check for square at just about every step in the process of building a box. I’ve learnt from experience! I’ve done a separate post on checking for square, but the basic concept is that the diagonals need to be the same length!
- Pallet slats come in all different thicknesses. Because the boxes will be stacked 2 high and will form the ‘legs’ of a table, they need to be the same height. This means that the slats on the bottom or the top of one box need to be the same thickness as the corresponding slats on its partner box. If the boxes are going to go up against a wall, it would be ideal for the slats on the back to be all the same thickness, but this isn’t that important.
- The slats that make up the sides of the boxes do not necessarily need to be the same thickness, but will look neater if they are.
- Each box will have 5 slats on each side. If your pallets are in good condition, you should be able to get 2 pieces out of 1 slat.
- About 5 x Australian pallets (1165mm x 1165mm)
- Thick 40mm nails
- 1 piece of pine panelling, 1400mm x 600mm (I bought 1800×600 and had 400mm offcut to practice the stain on 🙂 )
- Interior stain and varnish (or 2 in 1). I used Cabot’s Marita Grey stain with clear varnish over the top.
- drop saw or circular saw
- Nail gun or hammer
- Hand sander
Dismantle all your pallets and sort them out into piles of like thicknesses. Then work out which piles are large enough to give you your tops, bottoms, backs and sides and then sort them into corresponding piles. Then start cutting! Here’s what you need to end up with:
- 60 pieces (approx 30 slats) @ 40cm, with 20 of these the same thickness (for the backs of the boxes) and the rest the same thickness by the 10 (for the tops and bottoms of the boxes)
- 40 pieces (approx 20 slats) @ 47cm. These will form the sides of the boxes. Ideally they should be the same thickness by the 5.
You’ll end up with a lot of pieces!
The pile on the right is the corner pieces 🙂
You can either sand all the pieces now, or sand the boxes once they are put together. I sanded at this step.
Use the stringers (thick pieces of wood from the pallets) as the corner pieces of the boxes. If you want smaller, less obvious corner pieces like mine, you can use any thick wood as long as it’s at least 35mm x 35mm so that the nails don’t go right through it. You could rip your stringers right down the middle using a table saw, circular saw or jig saw, but make sure you check for nails first.
You need 16 corner pieces @ 40cm each.
Sides. Attach 5 slats to 2 corner pieces.
I found the easiest way to do this was to lay the corner pieces out perpendicularly on the workbench, then attach the end slats with one nail in each corner only. Then check for square and push the square at the corners to make the diagonals even:
Then fill in the spaces with the remaining 3 slats. Space them using your eye rather than measuring, because the slats most likely won’t be square or straight-edged.
I found the easiest way to do this was to stand the sides up on their ends:
Repeat step 4 for the top side of the box.
Back. Tip the box on its front, then nail on the back pieces. The middle 3 pieces will only have the thickness of one slat (approx. 15mm) to nail into. To make sure you don’t miss, pre-drill the holes 🙂
Repeat all the steps for 3 more boxes.
Benchtop. Give the pine panelling a light sand. Apply stain. For this project, I practiced with a brush and cloth on the offcut. The stain was actually quite dark so to stop it seeping in too much, I applied with an old rag in circular motions. So I basically rubbed-on-rubbed-off. I then sanded the edges and corners to give it a worn look and tie it in with the pallet wood.
Rest or screw on top of the boxes.
Done! I love how this turned out!