pallet wood
A straw bale pallet crate garden container we constructed with pallet wood.

How to work with pallet wood! Whether at the house or at the farm, pallets have played a major role in helping us to build much of what we need on the cheap! We’ve used free shipping crates and pallet wood to build the original chicken coop, compost bins, canning cabinet, straw bale crate planters, garden marker signs, shelves, fencing, a buffet hutch – and even our mailbox!

For us, it has always been a great way to build and create without busting the budget.

pallet wood
Even our farms mailbox is made from pallets

With a little ground work, pallets can usually be found for free – and used by themselves or in conjunction with purchased lumber – the projects you can build with them are limitless.

With that thought in mind – we thought we would share a few of the tips and tricks we’ve learned along the way creating our pallet projects.

We hope you find them helpful to your next pallet project!

Taking Pallet Wood Apart – Make It Easy!

pallet woodProbably the single biggest factor in discouraging people from working with pallets is the daunting task of taking them apart!

In reality – with the right tool and process – it can be simple and quick!

Our answer – a reciprocating saw! We have found the best method is to use a basic reciprocating saw to cut through and release the nails and screws that hold a pallet together.  (See Our Step By Step Tutorial : How To Quickly And Easily Disassemble Pallets) .

A pallet like the one above can be quickly disassembled with a reciprocating saw.
A pallet can be quickly disassembled with a reciprocating saw into single wood slats like above.

It can be done in just a few minutes, and leaves the wood in great condition – much more than can be said when trying to rip them apart with crowbars and hammers!  And as for the remaining nail heads – we actually like keeping them in for a great rustic look. But even if you want them all out – it’s much easier to push them through or dig them out after the boards have been quickly disassembled with the reciprocating saw!  Be sure to use bi metal construction blades, for your reciprocating saw – they make all the difference! The longer 12″ blades make cutting through the pallets a breeze.

 Selecting Safe Pallet Wood:

Selecting the right kind of pallet is the key to a successful and safe project.

When building something like this compost bin - you want to make sure the wood is free of any chemicals, paint or stain.
When building something like this compost bin – you want to make sure the wood is free of any chemicals, paint or stain.

Avoid  using stained or painted pallets – as the fumes and dust can be dangerous to work with when sawing and cutting.  Also be cautious when using pallets that have been used to ship food products – many times they are sprayed with fungicides that are hazardous to work with.

Some pallet companies treat their pallets with a process called Methyl Bromide fumigation, and although more and more companies are starting to make pallets free of chemical sprays for a one time use, you definitely want to avoid those using Methyl Bromide.

Our canning pantry cabinet is made from untreated pallets and shipping crates.
Our canning pantry cabinet is made from untreated pallets and shipping crates.

So how can you tell? Pallet manufacturers are now required to mark their pallets with a two letter code, and if you see a large MB stamp (Methyl Bromide),  avoid using it for your projects.

Instead, look for an HT symbol, which stands for Heat treating. Heat treating is a safe method, that involves taking the wood to a high temperature prior to use in order to destroy bacteria and insects in the wood.

Of course it goes without saying that whenever working with any type of wood, it’s important to protect yourself and wear a dust mask and safety glasses.

Where To Find Great Pallet Wood

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

So where can you find safe, quality pallets to use for your projects? One of the best places to look is at your local hardware, farm or implement stores. Small tractors, ATV’s and motorcycles are usually shipped in standard crates and pallets – as are large parts – and the wood is usually free for the taking. (Always make sure to ask first!)

We get many of our pallets from a local implement dealer. They receive their lawnmowers and parts in shipping crates and pallets that are built from raw pine and oak boards  They contain no sprays, stains or paints – which makes them both easy and safe to work with.

Here are some other helpful tips and articles from our site that can help as you tackle your pallet projects – just click on the link to take you to the article!

6 Must Have Tools For The DIY/Repurposer 

6 Simple Tips To Find Free Pallets And Salvage Materials

Our Pallet Projects                                                                                                                                                                                                               

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Happy Gardening – Jim and Mary!




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