Did you know your next DIY project could (and should!) help recycle waste material? The wood pallet is a versatile building block that can be turned into many useful indoor and outdoor items. To get you started with your first or next DIY wood pallet project, Jeff Richard, a recently retired homeowner who’s been building home projects for more than 30 years,  and Shaun Crawford, an avid DIYer, graciously offered up their pallet wisdom. 

Image via Brent Keane on Pexels.

Finding wood pallets

The first step to any DIY wood pallet project is the pallet itself. Richard finds most of his in the outdoor lumber area of hardware stores. 

“It’s usually very clear which pallets you can and can’t take,” says Richard. “Pallets that aren’t for removal are painted red or blue.” 

Besides hardware stores, check out industrial sites and other businesses that have large ticket items shipped to them. Crawford’s even had luck at landscape depots. Swap and listings sites like Facebook Marketplace and Kijiji are also possible sources—though these pallets can come with a price tag.

Pallets are sometimes stamped “treated wood” but another way to tell is by their colour—if the pallet is an unnatural wood colour, like green, it’s usually treated. For his DIY pallet projects, Crawford looks for “larger pallets that use thicker boards.” Plus, keep in mind not every wood pallet will be ideal for your DIY project. 

“Only pick untreated pallets for garden purposes since chemical treating isn’t good for your plants,” Richard says. 

DIY #1: Bedframe

This is probably one of the easiest DIY pallet projects out there. Depending on the size of your pallets—and of your mattress—you’ll likely require anywhere between four and eight pallets. Stack them one or two deep on the floor and lay your mattress on top, and that’s it! To customize the look, consider painting the pallets to match your room. Or, if you want more versatility, secure the pallets together and add wheels for a movable daybed. Plus, thanks to their structure, pallets come with built-in underbed storage.

DIY #2: Tables and tabletops

In only a few hours, Crawford turned wood pallets and recycled cabinets into a new workstation for his garage. First, he broke down the pallets and removed all the hardware. 

“If I decide to cut or plane the boards, any leftover metal can ruin the blades,” says Crawford. 

To “square” the boards, he runs them through the table saw to take a small amount of material off the edge so they glue tightly together. A light sanding is the last step. 

“In the case of the table I made, the pallet wood was weathered and grey, so I didn’t sand much to preserve the look of the wood.” 

You can also use a pallet as a coffee table, painting it and securing wheels so it can be moved around the room. Add a piece of tempered glass to the top for a flat surface and modern look.

DIY #3: Bookshelf

For a DIY wood pallet bookshelf, you’ll first need to break down and square the pallet planks as Crawford did for his tabletop. This project will be a little more time intensive than building the pallet bed as it involves breaking apart the pallets, sanding, measuring, and painting or staining (if desired). Once you have enough usable wood, you’ll be able to create just about any bookshelf you want. There’s plenty of inspiration to be found online.

Image used with permission from Jeff Richard

DIY #4: Compost structure

For another easy DIY wood pallet project, look no further than your backyard. You can build a compost structure in less than an hour with five pallets. Use one pallet as a base, though Richard says this is optional. 

“It just depends on if you want your compost to leach into the soil or sit on a raised bed,” he explains.

Three more pallets, lined with chicken wire, serve as 75% of the sides. Break down the final pallet and attach the slats to the front with screws. When ready to turn or unload your compost, simply unscrew the slats. Richard recommends this type of front “so you don’t have to raise your pitchfork over a four-foot drop.”

Bonus DIY: Canoe paddle

Crawford has turned numerous wood pallets into decorative or usable canoe paddles—watch him do it in the video above! The paddles take about eight to 10 hours each since many of the steps involve waiting for glue to dry, so make sure to set aside a weekend for this DIY!

Advanced DIY: Porch Swing

If you’re ready to take on a really advanced project, create a porch swing using wood pallets for a unique piece of outdoor furniture! As you can see in the video above, this project requires a lot more work and specialized tools to ensure the project is safe to use. This particular version is made for a gliding mechanism, but you can also create swings that hang from chains or rope. 

Whether it’s for the backyard, garage, or the home, there are a ton of affordable DIY wood pallet projects to try. The best thing about them? You’re upcycling material that might otherwise end up in landfill. 

Courtesy: realtor.ca

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