So far I have dismantled six pallets, cut the wood into pieces which range from 10" to 19" in length about 1 1/2" wide and are approximately 1/2" thick. My goal is to laminate these pieces together.

Cut wood so far

I would like the wood to be put together on the flat sides (not sure of the correct terminology). I would also like the pieces to be randomly alternating in length. See picture below:

Laminated Wood

This will end up being a surface 5' long and 15" deep, for the surface of a media unit. My plan was to basically put them on a flat surface, glue them up and clamp them together. Obviously this is a rough idea and I am looking for some advice before I glue myself to the floor.

As a side note, this wood is for the most part straight and square, I have put each piece through a planer enough to remove about 1/4" of material in total from both sides.

  • 3
    I wish the pallet wood I got looked as good as yours :(
    – Matt
    Apr 16, 2015 at 22:29
  • To clear up your terminology question, the flat sides you want to glue together are called the faces. Also rather than planing both faces through a thickness planer, ideally you want to joint one face flat, then plane the other face parallel to the first with your thickness planer. Otherwise if the board weren't flat to start with, you'll just end up with a thinner warped board.
    – rob
    Jun 10, 2015 at 0:48

3 Answers 3


My plan was to basically put them on a flat surface, glue them up and clamp them together. Obviously this is a rough idea and I am looking for some advice before I glue myself to the floor.

There's nothing essentially wrong with your plan, but there are some minor modifications that will make it go more smoothly.

On a substantial glued panel like this, made of so many parts, it can be advisable to work in stages. This is because the first glued surfaces can have dried quite a bit by the time you get to the very last glue application at the end, before the clamps are even on much less fully tightened. If this occurs it will lead to a weaker join on the drier joints, no matter how firmly you clamp. So unless you can do the whole thing very swiftly it would be better to plan on doing it in thirds, maybe even quarters, and once those have dried you can glue the three or four sections together with ease to make up your full width.

Even working in narrower sections like this you should probably use cauls (a batten clamped down firmly onto the surface of the boards) to help ensure they dry as flat as possible. The flatter you can make the surface during glue-up the less time and effort you will have to expend making it perfectly smooth and flat later on.

If you're working on the floor you should cover it with something the glue won't stick to. Any sheet plastic including rubbish bags (US: refuse sacks) and plastic food wrap works well.

approximately 1/2" thick

Also have to mention in case it's not obvious: the boards really have to be of uniform thickness for this glue-up to go smoothly.

You don't mention whether you've surfaced and jointed the pallet wood. In case you haven't done so, to ensure a proper joint between the face of each board every one must be sanded or planed smooth. This is vital, even if the pallet wood looks perfectly clean and appears quite flat. The jointed edges aren't to aid the glueing operation, they are to ensure the eventual top surface is as flat as possible before any further work is done on it.

  • The wood has not been jointed but it has been planed multiple times. I say approximately, because I plan on bringing it down to exactly 1/2" with a few more passes in the planer. If I glue this up in sections, can I run each section through the planer, then join those together? What would a caul look like on a narrow section?
    – rgmrtn
    Apr 17, 2015 at 18:43
  • @rgmrtn, yes you can run the sections through the planer. A caul at its simplest it just a scrap piece of wood that you clamp across the top. Here's a link to an article on them for this purpose on Fine Woodworking: Clamping cauls: the secret to good glue-ups.
    – Graphus
    Apr 18, 2015 at 7:11

The simplest way is to just glue the boards together. Making sure all the pieces are square. You can glue a short piece to a longer piece and then glue the next piece to both of them making it out to the 5' mark. (or maybe a couple to get the full length.

If you have a 15" wide planer it makes it easy at the end to run it through to even out the top/bottom. I have yet to glue boards together so perfect I don't at least have to run a sander over them.

To add extra to it, you can use a biscuit joiner to help glue the pieces together and make an even stronger joint, the strength isn't likely needed but it would keep the pieces aligned as you glue them together. You can also use a finger bit in a shaper or router to glue the boards end to end making them 5' long before gluing the faces together.

But the most important part is to align (finish surface) them stagger the joints and clamp them well.


I'm not sure if you realize, but that's going to be one heavy top, at 1.5" thick x 15" deep x 60" long.

As far as the how, you can do it in sub-assemblies. Basically, build up some smaller 4 or 5 board length sub-sections, and laminate them together.

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