Working with Pallet Wood: Breaking them down and project ideas

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I recently used pallets to sheet some cheap shelves I made in my attic. I was riding over to Lowes to pick up some OSB when I saw the pallets and thought to myself “Hey, those are free, I bet I could use those for the shelves I’m making”

It turned out to be quite a bit more work than I anticipated to break down those pallets. I first tried banging the boards out with a hammer, and those nails really don’t want to budge without seriously damaging the wood. I ended up cutting them a bit short with my circular saw and removing them that way.

This past weekend I went and bought a bunch of 2x4s and put them up into the attic last night. I plan to build another set of shelves up in my attic and I’m going to use pallet wood again to sheet the shelves, however this time I’m going to use a sheet metal drill bit to drill out the screws with my corded hammer drill.

I found this great article about using pallet wood from toolcrib.com that advised that technique:

Woodworking with Pallets: A guide to Finding, Breaking Down, and Building with Pallets

If you really want to get inspired to do something cool with pallets checkout this guys page:

The Pallet Shed

On that page you can see various structures built from Pallets, including a wood shed and a chicken coop. If you scroll all the way to the bottom you can see how one guy’s pallet wood shed doubles as a rain water harvesting system with the addition of a bit of PVC pipe gutters.

How about a Root Cellar made from Pallets?

How about decking with Pallet wood? I question the long term durability of this approach, however it’s worth a look.

What have you built with pallets? Add your own idea in the comments.

Here is one method using just a few hand tools. I might make my own video this week when I dismantle my current batch of pallets

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About the author
Webmaster of SaveOurSkills.com. Budding skill enthusiast and modern survivalist. When nick isn't plotting his next project he is probably running with his dogs, riding his mountain bike, or fiddling with his home theater.
  • http://www.homesteadgardenandpantry.com richard

    Hey Nick,
    Good post….We used to have a pigpen fence made from pallets.

    Some pallet wood around here is made of White Oak—- Is is very weather resistant for outdoor projects, unless it touches soil. If kept off the ground, on decking etc, it lasts for decades.

  • JimK

    Be careful picking up “free” pallets at Lowes. They are not free where I live in Houston. They get money back from them ($5-$10/pallet). And they take offense if you try loading them up in your truck.

  • http://www.facebook.com/nick.ladieu Nick LaDieu

    JimK – Good to know!! There is a furniture supply place near my work that has a sign: free pallets… I guess I’ll start sourcing them there.

  • Anonymous

    JimK – Good to know!! There is a furniture supply place near my work that has a sign: free pallets… I guess I’ll start sourcing them there.

  • Bethanial11

    I’ve got 4 pallets tied together (re-using baling twine; don’t have a nail gun and those things are HARD to nail into) to form a big square. I’ve got the bottom filled with old tires, and I’m going to use it as a raised garden bed. The tires are so I don’t have to shovel quite so much dirt.

  • Mike

    I have been using a few pallets and more often shipping crates lately for projects. The shipping crates are a pain to pry apart as the nails are to long and bent over. They must build them on a steel frame to bend the nails like that.

    I am loathe to run the wood through my planer as they pick up sand and grit like nobodys business. Cheaper to buy wood then planer blades.

    The sheeting from the shipping crates is very useful.

  • Anonymous

    Mike, where do you get your crates?

  • Apk404

    Back in the 1980s, my father built a small barn (including a loft) out of practically nothing more than the wood salvaged from pallets at his place of work. As I recall, the foundation beams were the only non-pallet wood in the entire structure. He was a design engineer and, alas, worked from the plans in his head, so no paper plans remain.

    I’m biased, but that barn was the best piece of recycling I’ve ever seen.

  • http://www.facebook.com/dustin.bajer Dustin Bajer

    Thank you for sharing your pallet dismantling technique; I found that the hardest part of working with pallets it, in fact, taking them apart.

    I’ve been working at a school trying to create a permaculture program and in the spirit of turning ‘waste’ into resources, we decided to make some compost bins with some discarded pallets we were able to find.

    We took picture, wrote about the experience, and drew up the plans we used in a blog post: http://permaculture.jasperplace.ca/?p=454

    Our entire blog can be found at http://permaculture.jasperplace.ca if anyone is interested.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=514590094 Heidi Ellis

    I am in the process of making a wood pallet shoe rack as seen as
    http://www.junktion.co.il/page%2006/products%20html/shoe%20holder.html

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_XPJO7FMRFWMQPRECAYFSGCW7AM Robert James

    Interesting post.. Really, very amazing to see how we can work with the pallets and project the different ideas that we want to implement.. Specially, your video I loved the most, because you have shown in which way, we can do this easily..

    pallet racks

  • Wolflax44

    This is awesome, I have made many projects with pallet wood, here is the latest one.

  • saveourskills

    what is it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jennifer-Ruth/500182012 Jennifer Ruth

    Can somebody tell me how to prep used pallets? Do they have to be sanded and varnished? I’d like to set up a pallet bed for my daughter .

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