Pallet Workbench

I threw this together (almost) in a morning and it was useful even before it was finished!

I was fortunate enough to get a really clean pallet with an almost completely slatted top. Along with timber from a couple of other pallets that I've taken apart, and some heavy duty castors, I was able to put together this simple but very sturdy workbench.

The Good:
  • The bench took a few hours to put together and is the kind of project that a beginner could do very easily with a limited tool set.
  • This was really cheap. The only costs were a sheet of 18mm ply, some screws, exterior wood glue and the castors.
    • The pallets were free. Pallets are still readily available free - look for any local business that takes in deliveries on pallets but doesn't export goods back out on pallets and they'll will usually be more than happy to give away a few.
  • It's really robust, easy to move about and will last for years.

The Bad:
  • Even with a good set of crowbars, prybars and/or a pallet deconstruction lever tool; it's simply a royal pain taking apart pallets!
  • The support blocks within the base pallet are chipboard and low grade chipboard at that. So I had to add additional screws to support the legs into this weak material and I added secondary supports that run inside the leg and sit flush with the underside of the pallet for a little more peace of mind. 
  • I was lazy when mounting the castors and have the screws running straight into the end grain of the legs. To any woodworker this is a facepalm thing to do but I did it knowing the risk and cost. What I really should have done is added a second set of apron rails flush with the bottom of the legs so that I could attach the castor screws into cross grain. I'll probably have to go back and do this when the castors inevitably get loose but right now I just need a bench.

Tools Used:
  • Mitre saw. You could just as easily use a circular saw or even a handsaw for this, the mitre saw makes it faster.
  • Combi drill/driver
  • Roofer's square
  • Pencil!
  • 80mm pz2 screws
  • Exterior grade woodglue because this bench is going to live in a damp environment.
  • 60 grit sandpaper to take off the worst of the splinters from the pallet wood before building.
  • 80 grit sandpaper for the final finish - this thing doesn't need to be fancy.
  • Clear, tough varnish to give it a little protection - I have done this yet, I want to get the top on first.
  • 130cm x 120cm of 18mm plywood for the top.
  • 1 clean and solid pallet for the top support.  
  • 4 full length legs to the length of your choice from at least 2x3 pallet stock (remember to account for the height of the castors and the thickness of the top you'll be adding).
  • 4 shorter leg supports from at least 1x3 pallet stock.
  • 4 apron lengths; one for each side.
  • 1 cross member to give some extra rigidity and to act as a support for the shelf, which is comprised of pallet slats.

That's it really - there's not much value in me providing a cut-list and measurements because everything is derived from the pallet, the height that you want the bench to be and the height of the castors that you choose but let me know if you'd like some more detailed photos so that you can see what goes where.
    Note that if you want a narrower bench, you can just cut carefully along the side of the central block supports of the pallet to produce a mini, rectangular pallet. A circular saw or jigsaw will definitely be easier than a handsaw for this but watch out for random nails because pallets are full of them and can destroy blades in a moment!

    The last thing I did was to put on the bench top with a large clamping overhang. I used some really warped 18mm ply. I actually had this left over from a previous project. It was pretty easy to pull flat with some 80mm screws straight into the blocks of the pallet. Later I'll add a replaceable top above this.