All posts by Tom


About Tom

Mostly Retired old dude buildin', fixin' and cookin'

Pallet Furniture


A friend of mine came to me in spring of 2017 asking if I ever made any pallet furniture.  No, but that never stopped me before from taking on a project.  So she gave me some ideas and we started collecting old pallets.  If I only knew how involved “simple” pallet furniture can get.

First, if you want to do a pallet project, you have to find a place to get pallets.  Lots and lots of pallets.  When you think you have enough, go get more.  Each seat takes three pallets placed down flat on top of each other and another for the back.  That’s four for each seat.  Then you need some to take boards off to repair the ones you are going to use.  And if you want tables to go with your seating, you need even more.

To save money by not having to buy cushions, we used crib mattresses for the seat cushions.   This is a popular idea because you can always find used crib mattresses for free or cheap.  You still have to get enough fabric to cover all the cushions and have someone that can sew to make them work.  My friend also found someone that was throwing out a couch with loose back cushions and grabbed them before it was taken away so we could use those for the back rest cushions.  I wasn’t involved much with the cushions, somehow the woodworking kept me pretty busy.

The actual wood working starts by cutting the pallets down from their original 40″ wide to 27-1/2″ wide, the width of the crib mattresses.   Leave them 48″ long, that works well with the mattress size.   If you cut off one side of the pallet and then reinstall that side member on the pallet again you don’t have much wasted wood.  However, we found that the free pallets you can get generally need to be repaired as you go.

Stack three of the right sized pallets and fasten them together with screws, then a full sized pallet screwed to the back of the stack makes the backrest.

The pallets look a little crude, even after adding better boards and repairing them as needed to be structurally sound.  It is at this point we got an idea to dress them up.  Slats, lots and lots of slats.  So we gathered more pallets, took them apart and used the recycled wood to make slats.  I  ran hundreds of feet of slats through my planer to get them sized and ready to accept stain.  No turning back now, this has got to look good.

Also I happened to find a guy with thousands of wood mill work pieces he was selling on Craig’s list.  He sold me a box full of these for $5 and was glad to get rid of them.  Planing the slats to 3/8″ they fit perfectly into those to make nice panels, ready to stain.

A little glue, and my brad nailer made some nice panels quickly.


I made them the length of the front and as tall as the seat to just above the ground for each seat section so we could move them around as modules so they can be arranged in a number of different ways.  The panels for the sides of each module was made the same way.  Then we got everything stained before installing them.

I also made panels to cover the backs of the modules so when the cushions are in place the units look very finished.

Finally I made some small panels to cover the part not covered by the larger panels and installed trim boards on the corners.

I don’t know if you noticed, but these are positioned on some nice white marble stones.  That also was part of the project.  You can probably get these delivered in bulk, but we did it with many, many bags of stone from Lowe’s.  Two trips with my little pick up, they were nice enough to load them for us but we still had to unload and spread them after we dug out the appropriate amount of soil and put down a double layer of landscape fabric to control any weeds.

Then came the idea for a center table.  My friend said she’d like a couple trays in the middle of the table that could be used to hold ice and drinks for parties or for plants to dress it up at other times.  I got to work.

More pallets, more boards, so many more boards.  Then more slats, a lot more slats.  Glue and clamps, some reinforcement to keep the funky pallet boards in line after they’re assembled.  A table top is made, cut outs done, then stain and some spar urethane for protection.

Did I mention more pallets?  Well, you need more pallets for the table and some real cutting and fitting to make the planters fit and have support.  And more slats to make 4 more panels, and more stain.   But nothing we couldn’t do, just look.

Now what furniture group is complete without at least one end table?  What’s just a few more slats and another table top, with a round cut out for another planter?  By this time making slats and table tops out of used lumber is becoming second nature to me.

For the end table I didn’t stack any pallets, just used the recycled wood to make the frame and slats, and of course, the top.  More stain.  Oh, and one detail I haven’t mentioned up to now.  I cut blocks of pressure treated (from 2 x 4 stock) and installed them on the bottom of all the units to hopefully control rot from the bottom up.

I think this pretty much concludes the pallet project of 2017.  It doesn’t look like pallet furniture anymore, but is does look good.



Off My Rocker

This was a restoration project on a very worn glider rocker.  It was given to me free and I always wanted to understand how a glider rocker worked, so I got busy restoring it.

It didn’t take much to take it all apart because there were very few joints that still had any glue holding together.  Right away I found out that all the bearings were bad.  So the first job was to find the right size bearings.

They sell bearing assemblies for glider rockers, but they are pricey to say the least.  So I did a lot of searching and researching until I found out that the bearings I needed were the same as used on skate board wheels.  And they can be bought in sets for a very reasonable amount.  That allowed me to move forward with this project.

I had to make some parts to replace the split and broken arms.  Some of the hardware to attach these was usable, some had to be improvised.

The side panels were added to the arm assemblies so I wouldn’t need side cushions.  I think I’m better working with wood than foam and fabric.

The springs under the seat were usable but I added some small nylon rope, criss crossed and tied together to give it some extra support.

After taking the back apart and re-gluing all the joints I sanded and painted all the individual parts before reassembling it with the new bearings.  I used all new bolts and lock nuts with flat washers to make sure it didn’t come apart with use.

I was able to use the same fabric over the springs and then made a new cushion with all new foam, batting, and fabric.  A challenge to get it all sewed together but it came out quite nice.

The back cushion was much easier and finished the job.  It was really quite comfortable.  My wife said it didn’t fit in our living room so I advertised it on Craig’s List and sold it.  I almost got out of it what it cost me to refurbish it.  Not counting labor.  Some projects you do just for the fun of it.



Knap Lamp

The first thing you notice about this lamp is that when it is on, the wooden balls seem to float mysteriously in the center of the lamp.   Remarkably, that is how the lamp is turned on and off.  For now I’ll show you the wood working involved, leaving the mystery switch to your imagination.

Knap is a word in the Dutch language that translates variously to clever, good looking, smart, handsome, or bright.  All words that describe this continuing project.  There will be more designs coming soon that will incorporate this switch design.  This is the first.

To make the frame to hold the LED lights I selected a nice hard maple board and began cutting, forming, and finally mitering and joining the pieces to for an octagon.

The mitered joints are made structurally sound by using carefully designed splines, two at each joint.  Lots of cutting and fitting, but it works well for strength and looks nice too.

I needed lenses to cover the LED’s and they were made from 1/8″ milky white translucent cast plexiglass.  That comes covered in protective paper on both sides so you can cut and fit it without putting scratches in it.

The base holds the wiring and power supply for the LED’s.  It is just a basic box made with miter corners to hide all end grain.  There is a separate top frame to mount the upper framework.

Final sanding and then two coats of stain followed by three coats of poly for the finishing touch.

This is “special walnut” on hard maple.

Finally the wires are all connected, the switch strings and wooden balls installed and it is ready to go.  The lower ball has a special resting place when the lamp is off.

It has a mysterious and elegant look, especially when turned on.



Knap Gen Tu

This is the second design from Knap Lamp.  A play on words, generation two (Gen Tu).  Knap Gen Tu, as most of my designs, is a one of lamp.  It is currently for sale, the price is $250 plus shipping. Click on “Shop” on the menu bar above.  I will ship to US only.  Build pictures are available on request.

Knap Gen Tu features the mystery switch of the first design operating 4 LED strip lights (one strip on each side of the lamp), and has an 8′ cord.  It is made of Oak with a golden oak stain covered by 3 coats of poly.  Measurements of the lamp are shown in the following pictures.

Modern Conventional Lamp

I’m always looking to make something unique.  A lamp is always a good project that allows one to harvest some creativity.   This lamp is one that I actually use.  It’s unique and functional.

It incorporates a dimmer switch located in the base with a low energy use LED bulb so it is versatile to provide the amount of light you want at any given time.

The base was laminated hard maple that was then routed and drilled to accommodate the hardware needed to make it all work.

The top of the base got the edges rounded over and drilled for the switch and post for the assembly that holds the bulb.

The switch is one of the main features of the lamp as it gives it you the ability to dim the light to your needs.  Wire connections all done taking time to make them all secure.

With everything secure it was time to make the upper structure.  More hard maple cut, sized, shaped, and grooved to hold the lenses that cover it.  All glued together to make a nice frame.  The top was designed to have some style and allow the installation of the bulb from the top.  Also it has a space at the bottom, all this to allow heat to dissipate so as not to melt the lenses.  This was a lesson learned on an earlier lamp project.


Glue and screws at the key points make it pretty rugged.


The screws get capped and adds to the detail of the lamp.  Gotta insert the lenses before screwing it all together, but also have to finish the wood before putting in the lenses or any more hardware.  I used a clear finish to let the beauty of the maple wood show through.

One small detail that bothered me was the knob that came with the switch.  Silver covered plastic was functional, but I just wanted something more unique.  So I mounted a piece of maple on the lathe and got creative.  This is what I came up with.

          I think it adds to the design.

Unique and functional.

One final note.  The bottom is covered with a medium weight felt to cover the electrical details and provide a nice pad so it won’t scratch whatever it is set on.