Wood shipping pallets are eco-friendly and wallet-sparing when you turn them into functional items. Once you find a reliable source of pallets, you will need some hard work and a few simple carpentry tools to make furniture for your home or your patio. The most difficult part of making furniture from pallets is the deconstruction; they are built to hold heavy loads and withstand rough handling.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Wooden shipping pallets
- Claw hammer
- Nails or wood screws
- Varnish, stain or paint
Locate pallets. Look for discarded pallets in industrial areas. Tool Crib says you may have luck at warehouses for appliance dealers, electrical supply, paint and tile stores, and heavy equipment repair sites. Don't overlook your local grocery stores and shopping centres. Check near the trash bins or behind them. Always ask the building management if you can salvage the pallets. Often, they save money by giving them away.
Select a simple project, such as a coffee table or benches. Depending on the design and dimensions of your furniture project, you may be able to use pallets with very little modification.
Consider furniture projects that don't require you to dismantle the pallet. You can use a reciprocating saw or other woodworking saw to cut the entire pallet crosswise to suitable dimensions for your furniture plan. Home-grown Evolution's outdoor garden table is a good starter project for people who don't want to deconstruct pallets.
Reclaim the wood from your pallet for projects that require board lumber. Locate and remove the nails holding the pallet slats to the support blocks. Opinions about the best way to remove nails vary widely, but Tool Crib suggests using a claw hammer, if you can loosen the slats enough to expose the nail head. On average, Tool Crib estimates, it takes about 30 minutes to deconstruct a pallet. Each pallet will yield 30 to 40 board feet of usable lumber, depending on the condition of the slats before you remove the nails.
Construct your furniture, using your own design or plans that fit your project. Measure the slats, cut them to the sizes you need, and combine them to fit your design. Use nails or self-starting wood screws to attach the pieces to each other and to supports.
Sand the rough edges of the pallet wood, including the places where you cut the wood or removed nails. Finish your furniture with a sealant, stain or varnish. If you build outdoor furniture, use waterproof paint.
Tips and warnings
- Check your local freecycling group and classified sites like Craigslist or Kijiji. You will need to pick up free pallets.
- Avoid pressure-treated wood. Before the Environmental Protection Agency banned its use in 2001, arsenic was one the most popular chemicals that manufacturers used to preserve wood, including wood pallets.
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