Check out our vintage-themed office desks built with upcycled pallet wood. With a little creative elbow grease, you can build these functional conversation pieces on a limited budget. Scroll through these pics to peer in on our process…
A challenging part of the project can be finding a source for old pallets that are free, in decent shape and have some character. These looked neglected, but we still asked permission to take ’em. Really though, you don’t have to look far to find a pile of these somewhere.
TIPS: When dismantling the pallet boards, you may wanna use a sawzall (reciprocating saw) to cut the nails. Trying to pull the nails can be blister inducing and back breaking. When applying the old boards to the new framework (above) nail guns reeeeally help.
We painted the desk surface with a Kilz primer followed by a brown. The white/brown base coat seals the grain nicely and looks cool later when we sand through the yellow top coat, which is a basic latex paint.
The inspiration for this desktop was an old motorcycle manufacturer. Love the old font treatment and its board track racing history. We created a vector trace of the logo, imported it into our sign-making software and cut a vinyl mask (like a stencil).
We somewhat roughly painted the lettering, intentionally making heavy brushstrokes visible to create a hand-painted vintage vibe.
Once we peeled off the vinyl mask, it looks close to final. But, to enhance the “old sign” look, we pulled out the palm sanders and put the hurt on the surface with really heavy grit pads…like 100. Maybe even a 50 grit was used. There’s an art to picking places to wear, but it’s not a science. You can really go crazy on it, but try to make it look consistently worn, not patchy with old/new areas.
For the second desk, we imitated an old Studebaker service station sign. We love the old days of auto and motorcycle manufacturing; for this piece, just up the highway was the origin of the once prominent brand.
Same process as desk 1: Prep surface with layers of color, create vinyl mask (stencil), brush in lettering and distress the heck out of it. Afterwards, we applied a polyurethane protective coating; we’d recommend a satin.
The beauty of having casters is that we can wheel them around easily to different configurations. The undersides also allow for a lot of out-of-sight storage.
We often have visitors who are compelled to walk up and feel the desks. We like that. A handcrafted, distressed work station with some nostalgic flavor helps create an approachable mood in the office. It’s the kind of roll-up-yer-sleeves style we aim for.