How to Build With Recycled Wood Pallets

Recycling wood pallets saves money and the enviroment.
Recycling wood pallets saves money and the enviroment. (Image: bunch of pallets image by timur1970 from Fotolia.com)

You can build just about anything with recycled wood pallets. Wood pallets are used for moving and shipping a variety of manufactured products, which makes them available in an infinite range of sizes. They are made from raw, untreated wood, but with the right tools you can take them apart, smooth their rough edges and make your woodworking projects at a significantly reduced cost. Building your wood projects from recycled wood pallets might take a little more time, but you will be doing your part to keep them out of a landfill and saving money.

Things You'll Need

  • Wood pallets
  • Pry bar
  • Mallet
  • Claw head hammer
  • Jointer
  • Thickness planer
  • Jig saw
  • Table saw

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Separate the individual boards from the pallet by inserting the edge of a pry bar between two of the boards, with the aide of a mallet and exerting downward pressure on the pry bar before lifting them apart.

Remove all nails with a claw head hammer and dispose of them properly, or reuse them if possible.

Sort the individual pallet boards by dimension and length. Remember that pallets are constructed with unfinished boards and you will note that they are not the typical 2- by 4-inch boards that you purchase at the hardware store, they are the same dimension as when they were when they were cut at the lumber mill. So choose a sorting method that works best for you, but don't mix them with your other pieces of finished scrap lumber.

Flatten one face and joint one edge of each board on a jointer.

Make the board parallel to the flat face you made with the jointer by running it through an electric thickness planer.

Trim off the ends that have irreparable nail damage and cut out any irreparable splits on each of the boards with a jig saw. Re-sort the boards by size as you go.

Rip the pallet board to your desired width with a table saw by setting your fence or edge guide to the desired width and using the jointed edge of the board as a reference.

Cut the boards to the desired length with a table saw.

Use your wood pallet finished wood for any woodworking project that calls for untreated wood in the lengths and widths that you have made.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can also recycle the pallets without finishing the boards by using it for projects that call for rough-cut lumber.
  • Wood pallets or crates can be used as-is for a variety of projects, including fencing, dog houses, and chicken coops--your options are only limited by your imagination.
  • Wear safety glasses while using power tools.

References

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