Our kitchen table got old and damaged, and I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on a new one, so I decided to do a kitchen table makeover. Since I like using pallet/reclaimed wood and chalk paint, I decided to change the laminate tabletop to wood and paint the bottom part(which is wood) white.
The idea was to create a DIY farmhouse tabletop and stain the wood top a beautiful weathered gray and fill the loose/missing knots, nail holes, and cracks with epoxy resin.
This project took me ages since we needed a working table in the kitchen, and the weather wasn’t great either. Sanding indoors wasn’t an option, so I had to be sure I could do it outside.
Materials and tools
- Pallet planks
- circular saw/miter saw
- Random orbital sander and sandpaper discs- P-40, P-60, P-80, P-120, P-180, P-320
- steel wool/vinegar mix plus strong tea
- sanding sponge
- old rags
- tarpaulin sheet/dropcloth
- aluminum tape/plastic tape/duct tape
- rubber gloves
- new hardware
- drill and drill bits
- dowels and dowel drilling tool
- wood glue
- epoxy resin kit-kitchen scales, plastic cups, wooden stirrers
- mica powder in metallic silver gray
- water-based poly finish
- white chalk paint/chalk paint powder and latex paint
I’ve bought the pallet boards at a local wood recycling center, so I didn’t have to go through all of the pallets disassembling process. I just had to make sure that the planks are the same thickness to have a nice even surface.
Since this table wasn’t typical- the tabletop has three parts: a middle part that is secured to the bottom and two wings that can be folded. I do realize that this project can’t be replicated in the same way.
Prep the boards
The first step was to pick the planks with the same thickness and make sure I had enough of them to build the tabletop. Since the table had three parts-the attached middle part and two wings that can be folded, I had to make sure the planks fit the same dimensions.
I also wanted the wings to be rectangular, not rounded like the originals. This would create more space.
Cut to size
After picking all the boards and deciding on the layout, I needed to cut them to the desired length. Since I don’t have a space for a miter saw, I got my hubby to do it for me using a circular saw.
Now was the time to sand the boards. You could leave it until you have them all glued up, but the pallet planks are not perfectly flat, so I was worried about damaging my sander and decided to sand them separately.
You could use a planer to smooth them out, but reclaimed wood has its beauty in all of the dents, nicks, and scratches. I started with P-40 to get rid of a lot of material and then went up to P-60, P-80, P120, and finally P-180. You don’t want to go higher if planning on using wood stain. If you did, the stain wouldn’t take properly.
After cutting and sanding, the next step was to decide on the wooden planks’ final layout. I had to make sure they fit together and don’t make a lot of crevices in between.
Drill dowel holes
The next step was to drill dowel holes for the dowels. I got this simple tool that makes sure that the holes are right in the middle of the board. I got five dowels to hold any two boards.
Mind that you should use a drill stop, not a rubber band, to get the precise dowel depth. but I was in a hurry and didn’t have any at hand, so I had to improvise, hehe :)
Glue the boards together
Since I didn’t have enough clamps to hold the boards during glue curating, I had to get creative. My hubby helped me with this whole process.
I used two clamps for any two boards, and we stack them on top of two other boards. So using only two clamps, we were able to glue two pairs of pallet planks at once. We used brown tape to prevent the squished glue from gluing the two pairs together.
The middle part was made out of four planks, so we glued two pairs of planks first, then we put the two pairs together to form the central part of the table. We placed it between table legs we use for storage in our garage to hold it together tightly during glue curation.
The wings were made of five planks, so we had two pairs and one plank in the middle. We used a weight lifting frame in our garage to hold them together while the glue was drying.
Filling the cracks and holes with epoxy
Since pallet wood is usually full of nail holes and cracks, and knots, I decided to use epoxy resin to fill them. This would fix the holes and loose knots and would make the whole top more robust.
Prep the board for epoxy-tape with aluminum trape
I decided to use aluminum tape for securing the holes, cracks, and edges. You can use painter’s tape or any other plastic tape(duct tape should be fine too). Just make sure that the tape you use is thick/strong enough, so it doesn’t tear during removal and keeps the resin in place.
Decide about pouring side
I decided to pour the resin from the bottom up. This way, you get a nice flat surface on the right side without any air bubbles. Check the video below explaining the process in more detail.
Prep the epoxy
Prepping the epoxy is pretty straightforward. Make sure you work in a well-ventilated area and have all the bits ready. The epoxy I got was a very low odor, so I could easily work indoors.
The kit came with a couple of plastic cups, wooden stirrers, and gloves. If you have only a few cracks or small holes, you can use this gorilla epoxy instead. It’s super affordable and pretty easy to work with.
Mix the epoxy
You should always follow the manufacturer’s instructions for preparing the mix. I needed one part of resin and one part of hardener. I used kitchen scales to measure.
Add the pigment
After pouring the ingredients into the cup, I added the pigment and mixed it all for five minutes. Then I had around 30-40 min to work with it. If you’re not sure how much you’ll need, it’s best to work in small batches unless you have a large amount of epoxy available and don’t care about wasting it.
Pour the epoxy and let it cure
Now the fun part. Slowly pour the epoxy into the holes and cracks. The problem I had was that I didn’t realize I pallet wood is cracked inside the planks. So in some places, I was pouring and pouring, and either the resin was filling the cracks inside the planks or was coming out on the other side despite the tape in place.
The resin was going through the cracks till it found the way out. Note to myself was to always make sure you have taped a lot bigger area that you think is needed. i had to redo some holes from the top side as well.
Remove the air bubbles
Since I was pouring the resin from the bottom-up, I could easily skip this step. The beauty of the epoxy I got was that it was pretty much degassing itself. I also used a silver-gray metallic pigment, so the air bubbles weren’t visible at all.
If you use a clear epoxy and are pouring from the top, you should use either a
Sand the planks and epoxy
Once the resin is cured(48-72h depending on the thickness and always check the instructions), remove the tape and sand it with 240 grit sandpaper. Don’t worry about it being cloudy. Once you finish the surface with a topcoat, it will be pretty shiny again.
Make sure you sand off all the spillages completely and the epoxy in places you don’t want it. Otherwise, once the wood is stained, these places will show up unstained. I had to redo the planks in a few places and restrain them again. Not fun.
Stain the wood with steel wool and vinegar mix
So now I had the boards ready for staining. I used the homemade steel wool and vinegar mix I prepared a few days earlier. Check this post for full details.
Let it dry
Once the stain has gone on, the wood needs to dry. Depending on the type of wood, it will turn into different weathered gray shades, as you can see in the photos.
Sand again by hand
The next step is to sand it lightly with a fine sandpaper/sanding sponge to reveal the beautiful gray color. As I mentioned above I had to redo the stain in some places after sanding the epoxy residue that has showed up after staining.
Wipe the dust
Wipe the dust off with a damp cloth to get rid of any sanding dust residue.
The final staining result
Seal with a topcoat
Next, seal the surface with a top coat of your choice. I used Ronseal diamond-hard in clear satin since I needed a bit more protection than the matt finish would give me. This topcoat provides you a super tough finish and doesn’t change the look of the wood. Just ads a bit of sheer.
For more options, check my post on how to seal wood surfaces for high traffic. I painted three layers and sanded between them with very fine sandpaper, like P-280 or P-320. You can do it by hand as I did or use a finishing sander.
Dismantle the tabletop and clean the rest
Once the tabletop was ready, we dismantled the old one, and I cleaned the bottom part. I used dish soap, and a scour sponge first and then gave it a wash with an elbow grease degreaser. Then i let it dry.
Clean the chairs
I repeated the process with the folding chairs I had, scrubbing all the dirt accommodated over the years.
Paint the table bottom and chairs with a chalk paint
The next step was to paint the table bottom and all the chairs with chalk paint. I used chalk paint powder and white latex paint. I mixed it up and painted three layers. Then I sanded it all very gently with a sanding sponge. The last step was to wipe the paint dust with a damp rag.
Seal with a topcoat
The final step was to seal it all with the topcoat. I used the same finish as the tabletop one as I wanted more protection than wax would give me—two layers for the bottom of the table and three for the chairs. I sanded gently between the coats wiping the dust with a damp rag.
Install the new tabletop and hardware
The last step was to install the tabletop. To do that, we needed to copy all the holes required for securing the middle part and for the hinges in the wings.
Once that was done, the central part was installed and secured using screws, and the wings were hanged on the hinges. I got new hardware as well for the drawer and the door and I love the new look.
All i need to do now is buy some charcoal gray cushions for the chairs. I’m very pleased with how it turned out. We have a lot more working space now. Not mentioning that the table looks so much better. If you have any questions about the process or any techniques used leave a comment in the box below or shoot me a message via contact page.
Don’t forget to pin it to your pallet projects or furniture makeover board. Thanks!