Pallets: The Basics
Making pallet furniture can be useful and rewarding - but it’s important to know the basics in order to have a flawless experience.
Step 1: Finding a source of pallets
Depending on how much pallet furniture you plan on making, you may need a significant source of pallets. It’s important to know where you can get pallets, as well as the quality of the pallets. -- The pallets that have been rotting in your neighbors yard for years probably shouldn’t be used
Have you ever eye balled a pile of pallets behind a store or in an alleyway? Don't be afraid to contact local businesses at all. Many businesses have to pay companies to take there pallets away, so they love it when a local hobbyist offers to take a few off their hands. Contact a business that you know has some good pallets and simply ask if you may take a few to make furniture with, they should have no problem. If they do, just ask a different business.
Step 2: What to look for in a pallet
When looking for a good pallet, there are a few key characteristics to look for.
First, make sure the pallet does not have the MB stamp on it. MB stands for methyl bromide. Methyl bromide is a dangerous chemical that was used as a pesticide in the pallet wood. It is highly toxic to humans, causes irritation, and causes damage to the skin and eyes.
Secondly, assess the quality of the wood. Look for imperfections in the wood. This includes splintering, chemical spills, and cracked pieces of wood.
Judge the weight of the pallet, typically the lighter the better. This is because pine is wood that is less dense and it is easier to extract nails out of, which is important to the dismantling of the pallet. Similarly, a lighter color may also mean the pallet is made of pine.
Thirdly, look at the the way the pallet is constructed. Depending on what your building you may need a pallet with blocks of wood, or one with long beams. The width of the boards may be important as well. Make sure you take this into consideration while selecting pallets.
Step 3: Dismantling pallets
There are many ways that you can dismantle pallets, however some work much better than others. I use a method that applies leverage and surface area to make the process as easy as possible without splitting the wood.
Using an eight foot two by four, you have enough length to dismantle the pallet with minimal work. Insert the tip of the two by four at the end of the pallet between the plank furthest from you and the plank next to that one. Pull down on the two by four and the plank should pop right off where the nails are.
Continue to do that to each place the plank is connected to the rest of the pallet. Complete the same action to each plank.
When you reach close to the end of the pallet, it will begin to rotate with the two by four. To fix this, move to the opposite side of the pallet and repeat the same process
Step 4: Using your new lumber
Now that you’ll have plenty of recycled wood, put it to use! Creating rustic, beautiful reclaimed furniture. There are so many things that you can do with pallets, so try some different things out. For inspiration, I love to use pinterest. Also, feel free to check out the gallery page of this website.