Where can I find free pallets? And how do I know if a pallet is safe to use?
When it comes to the DIY pallet projects we feature on the blog, those two questions always seem to make it into the comment section.
And after last week’s article on creating a pallet wall (see : DIY Pallet Wall), we thought it was a timely subject for today’s blog post.
Here is a look at 5 big secrets to find free pallets. And how to know if they are safe!
5 Big Tips To Find Free Pallets
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 reasons, many are not fond of letting people on their property.
So think small business. They usually don’t have the resources to unload scrap and spare materials.
More often than not, it ends up in their dumpster.
Most small garden and power equipment stores receive their equipment and parts on untreated, single-use pallets and small shipping crates. These are perfect for re-purposing.
2. New Business Openings
Have a new business coming to town or going into a strip mall or store? It is a great place to find free pallets and scrap lumber!
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.
Many times the store is so concentrated on getting open, they are actually quite happy to get scraps out of their way.
3 . New Home Building Sites
Ever drive by a new home building site and see that little fire going in the side yard?
Many home builders pile up their scrap lumber and simply burn it to dispose of it. If not in the fire, it often ends up in the dumpster.
Usually, by simply walking up to the crew and asking if you can rummage through the scrap pile works wonders.
Often, in addition to pallets, you can find a nice supply of 2 x 4, and 2 x 6’s in usable lengths.
There is also usually a nice supply of short plywood pieces. And plywood is all kinds of home DIY projects..
Much like in the business realm, small, single-home builders will be your best source.
4. Develop A Helpful Relationship
When you do find a business or builder that has available items, work on developing a mutually beneficial relationship.
Exchange email addresses and stay in contact.
Find out what are the least busiest times to get the materials. This helps to avoid interrupting their business flow. Help them take unwanted materials to their dumpster.
And whatever you do, leave the pile or facility cleaner than you found it. Respect goes a long way in building any relationship!
Over time, we have 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”. It lets them become a part of your project. And you might be amazed they start to keep an eye out for things you might use.
This works great for more than just pallets and wood. We have people who now call us when they have left over stone, garden materials and more. All 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.
Last but not least – know which pallets are safe to use. We covered this a bit before, but it is so important to cover again.
5. Know Which Pallets Are Safe To Use
Stay clear of stained, painted or treated pallets.
Select only pallets with an HT symbol branded in the wood. This symbol means the pallet has been treated with heat instead of chemicals.
Avoid pallets stamped with the letters MB. Those letters are short for Methyl Bromide fumigation.
The chemicals on these pallets are simply not safe to work with.
So what is you next pallet project going to be? If you need a little inspiration, check out our entire page dedicated to all of our DIY projects here : DIY Projects.
Happy Building! Jim and Mary.
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