Pallet Upcycle: Kate's Real Bench

Pallet Upcycle: Kate's Real Bench

Posted by Kate's Real Food on 30th Mar 2015

The Kate’s Real Food office crew recently moved into a great new space. After erecting the cubicle walls and getting the workstations assembled, we promptly put our heads down and got to work. It wasn’t until weeks later that we realized should a visitor happen to stop by; there would be no place for them to sit.

In our daily practice as a team, we exercise ingenuity. We also try to waste as little as possible in our approach. These principles are a part of our culture at Kate’s, and we immediately thought of a way to apply them to our seating challenge. Let’s just say we weren’t about to buy a couch.

I shared with a handful of people that we intended to upcycle some pallets into a bench, and the feedback I received was invaluable. All were interested in the idea, and each of them knew someone that had tried it. The input was the same across the board: prying a pallet apart and making it into something else is a pain in the ass. Answer: choose a design that will not require the use of a crowbar.

Finding examples of pallet DIY projects on the internet is not difficult. In fact, the return on that search is overwhelming. There are about a million and one examples on Pinterest alone. If you are looking for project plans or even step by step photo instructions, you are not going to find them. Instead, you must come to the table equipped with some creativity and imagination. Then you must stare at the pallets. Then you must stare at the design you have chosen. In the space of mere minutes, you will know what to do. Or, you could ask the stone sculptor you live with to stare for you and come up with a plan of attack, which is what I did.

I informed my design and construction partner KatieB that we would need to use sanding equipment for this, a screw gun, and a circular saw. The saw got her attention, just as it did mine. Both of us were a little intimidated by the idea of using it. I reminded myself that healthy fear breeds attention to safety measures.

The kind gentlemen at Valley Lumber (who just happen to carry Kate’s Real Food) donated the pallets to our project and the work began.

After a safety briefing from the stone sculptor who is also familiar with power tools, we both took a turn with the saw. Approach with caution. No sudden movements.

It should be noted that prior to cutting up the pallets that we used – the project was accomplished with two pallets – we sanded them in order to prevent splinter butt and also hammered down the nails that were imbedded into the pallet with a heavy carpenter’s hammer.

We clamped that sucker together and got to work with the screw gun. L brackets were applied on the underside using carpenter screws.

This stage provided a lesson about the hardness of oak, and the power of a screw gun to tear off the head of a screw. Of course, that lesson is far different from learning about the power of a circular saw through the loss of a finger. Thankfully both KatieB and I still have five on each hand.

If you like to swing your legs, this bench is for you. That is just a cute way of saying that if you actually want your feet to touch the ground, you better double check your measurements. The bench was broken in both outside of the office and within its walls. Our guest did enjoy swinging her legs – and I can attest to the sturdy feel of it. I wonder what will be witnessed from the perspective of this bench at Kate’s Real Food. Stay tuned.

[Special thanks to Tim Rein, stone sculptor, for design guidance and safety briefings!]