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How to build a pallet bar

Becoming a Leader

Difficulty: Beginner

There’s something warm and inviting about a bar, drawing people around and sparking great conversations. How good would it be to have your own bar for entertaining friends and family?


This pallet bar is cheap and easy to make. It only requires two pallets and virtually no dismantling required.


Inspiration for this project came from the Service bar made by the pallet maestro @Yorky88. Some of Marty’s other bar creations have also influenced the design, including this very popular creation, this bar with built-in coolers, and this rustic version.


Step 1

Choosing pallets isn’t rocket science, but for this project it would help if you had two pallets the same size, shape and type of wood. Newer, lighter-coloured and lighter-weight wood pallets tend to be easier to work with. The older the pallets, the more twisted and gnarled the nails might be, making them harder to dismantle.


There are a few ways to dismantle pallets, which has been a popular topic of Bunnings Workshop discussion in the past. @MitchellMc gives some great advice on how to take apart pallets in this post, while @Brad shares a great video in this post. Fortunately, this project does not require a lot of dismantling. You just need to remove the boards from the back of one of the pallets – with most pallets that’s only four boards in total.


1.1 Choose 2 similar pallets .jpg

Step 2

To prepare the wood, take a file and scrape off the splinters that tend to hang along the edges of the pallet boards. It’s a quick job that can be done by just scraping your file along the edge of each board.


Then sand the top of each cross board using an electric sander with a medium grain paper such as 80 grit. With pallet furniture, especially the outdoor variety, you don’t necessarily need a super-smooth finish. If you do one side of the pallet at a time you can get a sense of how the wood is changing. You can sand by hand, but it is much quicker and easier with an electric sander.


2.1 File off splinters.jpg  2.2 Sand with a medium grain.jpg  2.3 Sand to a smoother texture.jpg  2.4 Half sanded half still rough.jpg

Step 3

The front of the bar is an untouched pallet. There’s no need to do anything other than sand the wood and then stand it on its side.


3.1 The basic front of bar.jpg

Step 4

There is a really quick and simple way to make the sides of the bar without dismantling the pallet. Take the pallet that you have removed the back boards from. Mark a pencil line along the entire length of the central pallet runner. Then take a jigsaw and cut through these lines. Repeat on the other side of the central runner and you will be left with two sides for your bar.


4.1 Mark lines parallel to centre strut.jpg  4.2 Continue line across whole pallet.jpg  4.3 Cut line with a jigsaw.jpg  4.4 Repeat cut on both sides.jpg  4.5 Sides of bar ready to attach.jpg

Step 5

Attaching the sides should be fairly intuitive. Line them up with the front part of the bar and clamp one of the side panel boards to the side runner of the front pallet. Do the same to both sides and your bar should be taking shape.


Now drill two holes diagonally through the top side board and the supporting runner of the front pallet. Screw together with two timber screws. Then repeat this all the way down the side.


5.1 Clamp sides to front bar.jpg  5.2 Drill holes in top side strip.jpg  5.3 Put in 2 diagonal screws.jpg  5.4 Screw in the whole side panel.jpg  5.5 Basic bar structure complete.jpg

Step 6

There are a few different ways to complete the top of the bar. If your boards from the back of the side pallet are intact, then you can use them - although it’s nice if you can find wood that contrasts with the rest of the bar. Some dressed pine or rough timber is good if you have some around. I had the off-cut of a timber panel from another project that offered a good contrast. Your bar top needs to be 1.2m x 25cm.


You could get an invisible join by using wooden dowels and drilling holes halfway through the underside of the bar top. But because this is for out-side and I’m happy for it to look rustic, I just attached the bar top with timber screws. As the wood panel is soft, the screws are easily sunken.


6.1 Choose bar top.jpg  6.2 Drill holes in top bar.jpg  6.3 Attach top bar with screws.jpg

Step 7

You can add a stain or varnish to your bar, or paint it according to your taste. For my bar I’ve used a gloss varnish on the bar top. A small 250ml pot will be more than enough. With only one coat, you can already see the contrast between varnished finished wood on top and lightly sanded bare wood on the structure. There are no rules, but if you’re going to leave the bar outside at all times in all conditions, then varnishing the whole unit would be recommended.


7.1 Use a varnish to finish bar .jpg  7.2 Bar top varnished.jpg

Step 8

It’s always good to customise a bar. You might like to add pictures or paint a slogan or name. I had an old drinks crate in the workshop and also added some retro ornaments.


One other addition to consider is an internal shelf below the bar top to store things on. This can easily be done by running wood from one side panel strut to its corresponding strut on the other side.


Hey presto - the bar is open!


8.1 Add bar signs or embellishments.jpg  8.2 Add bar accessories for fun.jpg


  • 2 Pallets
  • A piece of timber (1.2m x 25cm)
  • 30-40 65mm timber screws
  • 250ml of varnish


  • Hammer or wrecking bar
  • File
  • Electric sander
  • Electric jigsaw
  • 2 clamps
  • Electric drill
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Paint brush
  • Ruler
  • Pencil



1.1 Choose 2 similar pallets .jpg

2.1 File off splinters.jpg

2.2 Sand with a medium grain.jpg

2.3 Sand to a smoother texture.jpg

2.4 Half sanded half still rough.jpg

3.1 The basic front of bar.jpg

4.1 Mark lines parallel to centre strut.jpg

4.2 Continue line across whole pallet.jpg

4.3 Cut line with a jigsaw.jpg

4.4 Repeat cut on both sides.jpg

4.5 Sides of bar ready to attach.jpg

5.1 Clamp sides to front bar.jpg

5.2 Drill holes in top side strip.jpg

5.3 Put in 2 diagonal screws.jpg

5.4 Screw in the whole side panel.jpg

5.5 Basic bar structure complete.jpg

6.1 Choose bar top.jpg

6.2 Drill holes in top bar.jpg

6.3 Attach top bar with screws.jpg

7.1 Use a varnish to finish bar .jpg

7.2 Bar top varnished.jpg

8.1 Add bar signs or embellishments.jpg

8.2 Add bar accessories for fun.jpg

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