Wood pallets are simple wood structures used in shipping to transport large stacks of items from one place to another. The pallets are constructed of simple 2 by 3 wood planks, which are ideal for transforming into a variety of projects. Many grocery stores and other locations discard the pallets after use, which make them an inexpensive and easy-to-find source for wood building materials.
Wood Pallet Safety
Not all wood pallets are suitable for hobby use. Many wood pallets are heat treated with formaldehyde or other toxic chemicals that can be dangerous if used indoors, especially by babies and children. Other wood pallets are sprayed with the pesticide methyl bromide, which is highly toxic to humans as well as insects. The IPPC ( International Plant Protection Convention) requires that all pallets come with a label that identifies if they were heat treated or pesticide treated: pallets stamped with an “MB” or “HT” symbol are not safe for regular human use. Pallets made in the United States (stamped with the letters “US”) have the highest chance of remaining safe for reuse. Never use a pallet that does not have an IPPC logo on it. Pallets from sources like grocery stores and other food-related sources are also less likely to use toxic chemicals on their pallets.
Where to Get Free Pallets
Finding free pallets is not difficult. If you are worried about chemical contamination, you can also purchase inexpensive chemical-free pallets from online stores.
- Local stores: Ask the manager of your favorite local store if they will allow you to remove any of their unwanted pallets. Many stores throw away unused pallets because shipping them back to the product distributor is not worth the extra expense.
- Local factories: Local factories may also have free pallets you can take home. Watch carefully for unsafe pallets at these locations.
- Online sources: Sometimes people give away pallets online. Look at Craigslist and other trading or freecycling websites to search for safe pallets to use.
Easy Pallet Furniture Projects
While some pallet projects are quite complicated, there are a few projects that you can try, even as a novice woodworker. These projects take few special woodworking tools, and you should be able to complete one project in one or two days.
- Planters: A simple planter is easy to make from pallets using a saw, nails or screws, and a measuring tape. All you have to do is break down the pallet into planks, then screw the planks together to create a simple planter box for growing flowers or plants. These planters look pretty, and are ideal for patios or smaller yards. Instructables has a great set of simple planter plans.
- Shelves: You can make a simple one-shelf rack for holding books or smaller objects, or make a larger shelf as a more ambitious project. Ana White has some simple shelf plans for first-time pallet makers.
- Seating: Pallets plus form and some upholstery fabric make creating inexpensive seating a breeze. This easy tutorial from Apartment Therapy will help you build usable furniture in just a few hours.
Additional Pallet Project Ideas
Pinterest has tons of pallet project inspiration that should last you for years.
However, if for some reason you can’t find enough project ideas online you can also purchase Build It! With Pallets or 100% Pallet: from Freight to Furniture from Amazon, and furnish yourself with a zillion different furniture ideas.
Have you made anything using pallets?