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Pallet projects for the people: How to be a DIY pallet pro

by Ben

Pallet popularity continues to grow unabated. You can’t log onto Pinterest without stumbling across a series of cool and innovative pallet projects. I am on the site as I type this, and a simple search for pallets brings up hundreds of creative pins, from  a roomful of furniture to picture frames and even planters.

Are you ready to jump on the pallet bandwagon (and I assume someone out there has made a bandwagon out of pallets at this point)? You may have questions about getting started. Here are some answers to help you launch your own reuse revolution.

1.) So what exactly is a pallet?
We’ve all seen pallets before. If you need a definition, a pallet is “a flat transport structure that supports goods in a stable fashion while being lifted by a forklift, pallet jack, front loader, work saver, or other jacking device. A pallet is the structural foundation of a unit load which allows handling and storage efficiencies. Goods or shipping containers are often placed on a pallet secured with strapping, stretch wrap or shrink wrap and shipped.”

In other words, one of these:

Pallet description

 

2.) Where can I get pallets?
First of all, do not pay a Breaking Bad-style visit to your local lumber yard. You can purchase pallets online from companies like Uline and OneWay Solutions, but that kind of feels like cheating. Half the fun of the project is the good feeling you get from creative recycling and reuse.

So to answer the question: check Craig’s List. I just did a random search of five U.S. cities and found people giving away pallets in each. Grocery stores, hardware stores, and department stores are often willing to part with their pallets. This outstanding list from Old World Garden Farms has a number of great suggestions for procuring free pallets (thank you, Lifehacker, for the link). Basically, consider places that would receive a lot of shipped goods and ask nicely — it can be that simple.

 

3.) I have all these pallets. Now what? 
Now the fun begins. What is it that you want to make? A simple table or chair? No problem — download free instructions from The Pallet Room (don’t be scared by the Italian! The instructions are non-verbal). DIY Pallet Furniture offers basic instructions on how to make several different kinds of furniture, ranging from coat hangers to wardrobes. Scraphacker shows you how to make a remarkably beautiful sofa. CoolMaterial.com has a variety of instructions for items like headboards (really cool), wall art, swing chairs, work benches, coffee tables, and more.

The list goes on — a simple Google search will turn up thousands of ways to make your pallets into something unique and special.

 

4.) Are these things safe?
Full disclosure – some people think that pallet projects are not a great idea. Others believe that basic precautions should help prevent any potential issues.

Check for the stamp — treehugger.com notes that Canadian and newer American pallets are not treated with a nasty chemical called methyl bromide that kills insects. Repallet.com explains key issues like pressure and heat treatments. Halifax Media Co-op addresses the fear surrounding health risks like e.coli.

Like any other reused item, you should do your homework. Make sure you are comfortable with any secondhand lumber before bringing it  into your home.

 

5.) This seems like a lot of work! Can I just buy some pallet furniture?
Yes, you can. Check out crafting sites like Etsy to find local artisans who are putting in the labor for you.

Of course, if you ever need a place to store that pallet furniture, or the furniture you move out of your house to make room for your new hobby, check us out at UncleBobs.com.

 

Header photo from urumix.com.

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