storage bench with pallet top

A long time ago, in a land far far away on one of my visits to the tip shop, I found this little cabinet. Like the one I posted about previously, this little guy was made as a base to a wardrobe. A small wardrobe. This is the only ‘before’ pic I can find (not one of my best, I confess).

It didn’t have a top at all, had a couple of big cracks on the sides and the drawer was broken. In fact it was a real mess. But I liked the shape and handles, and was already thinking bench and shoe storage.

My vision was that one day I’d put a new top on it, give it some new paint and make the drawer into a door.

It sat in the casita for about a year. Maybe more. It held all kinds of junk for a while. It stood on its side a fair bit trying to look inconspicuous… It hung around gathering dust and possum poop (thanks to the resident possum, Mr Ponsonby who has since been relocated, and turned out to be a Mrs anyway).

Eventually I noticed it again and decided it was about time to do something with it and regain some space in my workshop. Especially given I’d pulled apart and repurposed the old shoe cabinet/bench.

I started off by giving it a coat of paint. At the time I was experimenting with greens so I painted the body green, but the handles were painted in a creamy yellow so I stuck with that for the door. I put a shelf inside the cabinet and painted the inside a slightly brighter yellow.


I pulled apart the broken drawer keeping the front. I had to fill the dovetail joints with bits of timber and gap filler to make it into a door rather than the front of a drawer. (Sorry, no pics of that.) I attached a clip closer and hinges so it now opens downward.

I’d always been itching to make something out of pallet wood (I’ve used pallets for many things but never made anything out of the wood) so I went and collected a couple of pallets from the ‘free’ pile outside a hardware store.

To be honest, I’m not sure they’re totally free, I was told they were by a friend and I chose to believe her, but whenever I’ve taken any I’ve always felt rather sneaky about it. Whatever… most of the ‘free’ pallets are broken or made of really cheap wood. Obviously. They’d never throw out good pallets.

Anyway, I got my pallets home and started pulling apart the only one long enough to make a top out of. I split most of the bits of wood I got off. In the end I got enough better pieces to create the top.

It wasn’t easy. I see so many pallet wood projects and I wonder how people do what they do… either they’re getting much better quality pallets than I got, or they’re just plain better than me!

I finally pieced together a top with as few gaps as possible, matching warped boards together like a jigsaw puzzle. I joined the wood together using 2 slats of wood underneath to hold them together and to give them added strength. (Did I mention this was crappy timber?)

Once that was done I sanded it back really well. It looked great.


Only problem was I wanted a weathered timber look, not a brand new look.

So I looked around for some steel wool to put in vinegar and resigned myself to waiting for the requisite rust to age the timber with.

I couldn’t find steel wool. I think I used all I had patching up holes around pipes in the wall in the kitchen! (Apparently mice won’t chew through steel wool. At least I hope they don’t!)

Well, that was the end of that idea. What else could I do?

I got out my artist acrylics and mixed up a watery solution of burnt umber (a colour you hear about a lot on my blog), grey and black. Grey cause weathered wood is always grey and black cause nails holes always go black.

I slopped the watery solution over the wood and let it soak in a bit, then wiped the excess off with a clean rag.

Not quite right yet.

I got out undiluted colours and painted them on and wiped them off, leaving darker areas. I dabbed black over areas of the wood, especially around holes.


I love the way it turned out.

When it was dry I put 3 coats of satin polyurethane on it to finish it.

Finally, I distressed the cabinet a bit in areas where it would normally get wear and rubbed in some burnt umber to give it an old appearance. Not that it wasn’t old, but the paint was new and burnt umber is like the accumulation of years of dirt.

Funny how I refresh something, make it nice and clean, then make it look grimy before putting it in my house… I wonder what that says about my personality…?

I’m still not entirely sure about the colours. I didn’t want just another white or cream cabinet and I had this colour mixed up and thought it would go well with the creamy yellow. An antique colour mix I thought. Do you think I achieved it?


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