find free pallets
Projects like this compost bin are easy to make for free if you can find a source of pallets.

Pallets and reclaimed wood make up the majority of our materials when creating our DIY projects.

More often than not – the one question we get hit with is: “Where do you guys find free pallets?”

Here are six tips and hints that have worked best for us – including specific details on the best places to look for  those elusive materials to recycle into your next project:

1. Think Small

The smaller the business – the easier it will be to get quality materials to make your craft or project.  Large businesses tend to have processes already in place to handle their waste materials.  On top of that, for safety and time saving reasons – they are not fond of letting  people in to take one or two pieces of scrap material.  So think small business.  They usually don’t have the resources or volume to unload scrap and spare materials to big haulers – so more often than not, it ends up in their dumpster.  

2. Learn The Art of  Asking

Always, always always ask!  Just because there are some pallets piled up against a wall – or some leaves bagged on the road – it doesn’t mean that they are “free” for the taking.  In fact, in some cases – stores that take deliveries on pallets pay a deposit on them – and are charged if not returned.  

find free palletsIn the case of  items left at the curb – asking is always the safe and courteous thing to do.  For a business – first thing in the morning or late in the day are some of the best times to stop in and ask.  Why?  Those times tend to be the slower periods  – and they are much more likely to take the time to talk to you. And when you ask – be sure to share your plans for it with them.  Trust me – when people find out your building a coffee table, a desk, a chicken coop or playhouse for your kids – they are much more likely to be on board and help.  It also goes a long way to our next point:




3. Develop A Relationship

If you do find a business or a builder that has available items – work on developing a relationship with them to get materials as they become available.  Exchange email addresses and stay in contact.  Over time, we’ve developed a network of people who are on the look out for items we use.  We make it a practice of emailing back a photo of the finished project we made from their “junk”.  This works great for more than just pallets and wood – we have people that call us when they have left over stone,  garden materials, etc. because of the relationships we have built.  We have even gained some loyal blog followers now from our suppliers – wanting to see what we are building next.

So enough of the how to ask – here are some of the best places to find those materials.

4. Where To Find Free Pallets

You can usually find some great clean pallets that are perfect for building projects.

Pallets are one of the hottest materials used right now – and you can find a myriad of projects all over the web to make from them.   The key in making great projects is finding nice, clean and damage free pallets.

Our secret?  First – we forget about looking at those big commercial and manufacturing businesses.  

Almost all of them have recurring contracts with pallet pick ups and deliveries  – and you never know what chemicals or materials have been used near them or spilled on them.  Instead – we concentrate on small stores that  get a small but steady supply of pallets.

The best places?  Small Garden and Hardware Stores, Motorcycle Shops, Lawnmower and Power Equipment stores.

Garden and Equipment Stores usually have a nice supply of available pallets – most of the new equipment is shipped in clean crated pallets

These stores seem to get inundated with pallets and shipping crates – and in many cases struggle to get rid of them. They are usually nice and clean because they are transporting brand new equipment in them.  Most of the power equipment stores receive their equipment and parts on pallets, or small shipping crates – which are great for re-purposing.   We have a small motorcycle and lawn equipment store nearby that always has a pile of lumber waiting to be scrapped.

5. Where To Find Misc. Lumber and Framing Material Scraps

New home builders and small business construction sites.

New home building sites are a great way to find nice scrap lumber and plywood

Ever drive by a new home building site and see that little fire going in the side yard?  Well,that is what some builders do to get rid of scrap lumber not used on the job site.   If not in the fire – it usually ends up in their dumpster.  Usually a simple walk up to the crew and they are more than happy to let you rummage through the pile.  You can usually find a nice supply of 2×4, and 2 x 6’s in short but very usable lengths.  For a desk or table – remember – most legs are between 28 to 30″ high.  Another great find at these places can be nice supply of short plywood pieces  – great for projects of all types.  Again – you will have much better luck with small time builders.

New Business Openings.

Have a new business coming to town or going into a strip mall or store?  How do you think they get all that product in to start the store?  That’s right – on pallets and in shipping crates!  When you see a new store coming in  – stop and ask  once again – many times – the store is so concentrated on getting open and running – they are more than glad to give you as much as you can take.  Just last week – we stopped by a new store ready to open and asked – and were greeted with a YES! please take them – you will save me from having to get rid of them.

6. Use The Power Of  The Internet

Local Facebook Community Pages Are A Great Place To Find Materials

Look For The Free Salvage Materials On Craigslist or your local Facebook Community Pages.

Okay – so beyond the pitfalls and the horror stories you hear about buying things on Craigslist.  If you use common sense, and some basic personal safety rules –  it’s a great place to find materials for next to nothing or even free!  In our case – within just the last year we have found an old barn, 1000+ paver bricks,  and a huge load of crates and pallets – ALL FOR FREE.  We concentrate on the “for free” and “General” and “Materials” tabs – making sure to give a quick glance every few days to see what’s out there. On the being safe side –  we never ever pick anything up alone, always pick up during daylight hours and stay mostly with businesses that have items to unload.

Also – don’t be afraid to put out a notice on Facebook for what your looking for – you would be surprised to find people that may have something that has been sitting in their garage waiting for the trash.  Also – many local areas have Facebook Community Pages set up to look and ask for items for free, for sale or trade.

So there you go – our tips and tricks of the trade in picking up great building materials on the cheap!  If you want to receive our weekly DIY and Gardening Tips each Tuesday – be sure to “Like” us on Facebook or sign up to follow us via email on the blog.

– Jim and Mary

 




Pallet Projects - Canning Cabinet, Wall Shelf and Crate all made from Pallets
Pallet Projects – Canning Cabinet, Wall Shelf and Crate all made from Pallets

36 thoughts on “6 Simple Tips To Find Free Pallets and Reclaimed Materials

  • August 27, 2016 at 11:54 pm
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    What about non pallet items? I see crates and plywood items from furniture stores–some that come from overseas. I don’t know whether these are safe to use as they don’t have any marks on them. I also find mdf boards which I’d like to assume have not needed to be fumigated. Anybody know the answers about whether these items are safe or have MB on them?

    Reply
  • July 2, 2016 at 9:13 pm
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    Thanks for the advice in finding clean pallets…finally I have hubby looking out for some to diy projects…finally after years of showing him what can be done with pallets he is into creating some cool stuff…first one for me will be a wooden flag display…next will be making organizers for both his office closet and garage…look out world we are in the pallet business lol…I will post pictures of our accomplishments…wish us luck…especially doing something together to enjoy….thanks again!!!

    Reply
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    • April 19, 2016 at 7:56 pm
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      Tim, yes. Sorry about that. We should have said smoked in the article.

      Reply
  • February 8, 2016 at 11:59 am
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    I suggest carpet, tile and flooring stores. They can have some really beautiful pallets. Thanks for a good article that confirms what I have already experienced

    Reply
  • November 29, 2015 at 6:27 am
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    Really good information. I try to repurpose about everything. I love canning and I see you have a whole section right on your blog. My main reason for writing was about pallets, thanks for the good information!

    sincerely
    Rach

    Reply
  • September 5, 2015 at 5:41 am
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    Thanks for advice on wooden pallets just need to doleg work know and find me some wooden pallets for my alotment karen

    Reply
  • August 20, 2015 at 10:32 pm
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    Hello, I was recently driving by my local target and in the back by the dumpsters there were pallets. Am I allowed to take them or no? Or do I have to ask the manager? I would like them but dont want to get in trouble!

    Reply
  • August 6, 2015 at 10:22 am
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    This is fantastic and I can’t wait to look more around your website 🙂 Thank you

    Reply
  • July 20, 2015 at 10:34 pm
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    Thanks! This is really great information! I’m just beginning working from home on making distressed wooden signs. I’ve been buying most of my wood from the local lumber store, but when I find those old pieces of wood, it just makes the piece look so much more unique and I love it!

    Reply
  • June 19, 2015 at 11:58 am
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    I have 40 pallets in very good shape my warehouse is In Franklin Square New York 516 437 5100 ex 14 please take them for free all different sizes

    Reply
    • August 25, 2015 at 3:51 pm
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      Oh man, if I didn’t move off long island I would be there in a heart beat.. granted if they were still available haha

      Reply
    • October 20, 2015 at 1:04 pm
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      Are they still there?

      Reply
  • Pingback: Weekly RoundUP - Upcycling News for June 12, 2015 - UpcyclePost Blog

  • May 12, 2015 at 6:48 pm
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    This was the BEST article! I was about to drop $130.00 on a pallet. I want to make a garden wall and what better then pallets, now I can do the whole fence living near some small businesses…plus, one of the places mentioned is construction sites and stupid me, my house is currently under construction!! See what I can repurpose???????

    Reply
  • May 6, 2015 at 1:39 pm
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    I really like the comment about learning the art of asking! I used to be pretty timid about asking for things but then I heard a pretty good quote: “If you don’t ask, it’s automatically a no”. That’s when I decided to not worry so much about it and just ask! I’ve ended up getting a lot of good discounts as well as free items over the years. Thanks a lot for the article!

    Reply
  • May 27, 2014 at 6:24 pm
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    One piece of advice to go with this is to look for the letters “HT” stamped or burned on the pallet. This means the wood was heat treated, and not chemically treated. Wood from heat treated are better for use as chicken coops, compost bins, planters, etc, anything that might involve food production or gardening.

    Reply
  • April 13, 2014 at 4:39 pm
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    beer distributors. good oak pallets.

    Reply
  • January 20, 2014 at 10:12 am
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    One area, especially here in the UK, of commerce is large store refit outs, same applies nearly everything arrives on pallets and mostly it’s management companies who run the sites, getting rid of pallets normally costs them money…so!

    Hope that’s helpful to some of you.

    Al

    Reply
  • September 30, 2013 at 3:41 pm
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    I’m looking for tires and pallets for now. Thanks.

    Reply
  • September 2, 2013 at 8:30 am
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    I googled free pallets and discovered your blog and am very thankful for the tips. I too like a previous poster purchased 11 acres of land to live self sustainably and am on a tight budget. I just bushhogged 5 acres of it and put a cabin down but am unable to drive my small elantra over the ground which would probably puncture the tires at this point. My brain is exploding with creative ideas for pallets (furniture, fence) and now a possible thought on a driveway (temporary just to safely avoid the sharp roots of what was cut. I appreciate your tips and thank you for sharing!

    Reply
  • July 29, 2013 at 11:00 am
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    Loved the info on how to get free pallets! As a stay at home mom, this will come in handy as soon as I can find the time to work on the projects!
    Thanks so much! I would love to get gardening tips as I hope to start a larger one next year!
    -Jen Womacks

    Reply
  • Pingback: From Pallet to Compact Wall Desk

  • February 27, 2013 at 11:41 pm
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    Thanks, great information!!

    Reply
  • January 22, 2013 at 1:05 pm
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    Have any of you ever heard of FREECYCLE??? People are giving away nearly anything you could imagine. Some great some not so much. It all depends on what you are looking for. Totally free to sign up and have a look. http://www.freecycle.org

    Reply
  • November 18, 2012 at 11:12 pm
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    Excellent tips! Thanks for sharing with the Clever Chicks!!

    Reply
  • November 12, 2012 at 7:01 am
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    Good tips. Freecycle and Craigslist are good ways to find free items. We have been fortunate to be able to get a lot of free items (pallets, barrels, misc. lumber) from my husbands work as well. He just has to keep his eyes open and ask.

    Reply
  • November 10, 2012 at 8:12 pm
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    See if there is a Freecycle group in your area — another good source of materials.

    Reply
  • November 7, 2012 at 5:29 pm
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    Those are great tips. I love all of the pallet projects I see around blogland. I would love for you to link this up to my Fall into Fall party going on right now. Hope to see you there.

    Reply
  • November 6, 2012 at 9:07 pm
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    Great tips! Very true about small businesses too. We managed a coffee house and were more than happy to work with customers to give away coffee grounds and any other recyclables they needed. Thanks for the ideas…blessings!

    Reply
  • November 6, 2012 at 9:06 am
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    Great tips! I will have to bookmark this post for future reference! Thanks for sharing.

    Reply

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