Celebrating Pallets for DIY Craft Projects

How to Find Pallets and Tips for Safe Handling and Crafting

Here's to wood pallets. There are a lot of them out there, and many are available for DIY projects and upcycling. Not all are safe or practical to use, however, and some navigation is necessary to better understand which ones you can legally take, and in terms of safety and best results, which ones are the prospects of choice for home projects. 

I have been writing about pallets for over 20 years, mainly for the pallet industry rather than DIY, but this is not to diminish my appreciation for making great projects from free pallets. My first pallet DIY projects were simple, yet really practical at a time when I had small children. One of my specialties included junior picnic tables which I made from fresh new pallets that had come from Australia under canned fruit. I used the  pine 2x4 pallet stringers, which I sanded and finished with a high gloss finish, and I also built small Cape Cod chairs out of the pine deck boards. Prying apart the boards and stringers were easy, and I had very little loss of material. Many pallets require more attention to technique to successfully dismantle, as the spiral nail fasteners are designed to do just the opposite. There were some other projects I completed along the way, including birdhouses, compost bins, and some garden dividers. Now, however, projects have gone to a whole new level as there is some amazing work being done.

Let's look at the basics.

What Is a Pallet

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 The beginning of pallets goes way back in time to ancient Latin. The root of the word corresponded to the color yellow, and to straw. Beds of straw became known as pallets, and wood frames that became the beds or bases for other goods became known as pallets also. Those wood frames gradually were adopted as bases for storage of containers and casks, and eventually came to repositioned, first within workshops and warehouses, and eventually through transportation. Here is more information as it pertains to the modern pallet. More

Where to Find Free Pallets

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Wood pallets are widely available. Here are some of the leading places to find them. Remember to pay attention to pallet ownership. Just because pallets are in the alley or on the loading dock doesn't mean that they are not still considered the property of their owners. The good news is that a great many companies will be happy to have you take them away.  More

Pallet Misinformation Abounds

Photo credit: EPAL

A lot of information about pallet DIY focuses on the importance of pallet stamps or markings that don't offer much insight into pallet safety. A lot of articles make allusions to the dangers of "chemicals" with respect to pallets. More importantly, pay attention to pallet condition, the risk of contamination from the supply chain it was being used in, and of course safe handling and woodworking practices. More

Pallet and Container Theft Legislation

Rick LeBlanc

For the DIY pallet enthusiast, this might be a bit much, but it is worth remembering that general as well as specific legislation exists to protect against the theft of pallets.  More

How to Safely Take Apart a Wood Pallet

Taking apart a wood pallet can be very easy or very difficult, depending upon fasteners and other variables. Reusable pallets are engineered to stay together and deliver long life as a pallet, so it pays to have the right techniques and equipment. Safety is important, so remember your eye protection and safety footwear. Gloves and appropriate clothing will help you avoid slivers and the threat of infection.   More