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Hill farmer

Making things from old Pallets

I do not get in this site much as I have long been a member of the River Cottage - it seems its shutting down so I thought this is the best site to migrate to.
I wanted to ask if anyone has any good ideas in re configuring old Pallets - I have access to loads ( via a friend ) and have built two sheds for log storing and a garden tool shed. They can be awesome materials if you know how to deal with them.

Sorry if my post is in the wrong forum mods its just I wasn't sure where to put it.
Anyway the whole Pallet thing is a good idea all you need is a few screws a saw large hammer and a crow bar.
Anyone done it ?

Hello Martin. I'd be interested in this following.
Hill farmer

Cool , I now see this should have gone into the DIY forum -- hey ho

Cool , I now see this should have gone into the DIY forum -- hey ho

As if by magic... Wink

hello and welcome aboard .

i have made many things from pallets ranging from work benches to a wood shed/growing platform ,bender floors,beds and the usual stuff such as compost enclosures and higgledypigeldy pens.

three tools i have found very useful are a demolition saw (to cut the nails as well as the timbers),a palm sander and a good drill/screwdriver(with turboscrews) but as you say the basics are hammer ,saw and wrecking bar.

I have always started with good intentions, got quickly fed up trying to rip nails without splitting wood & ended up taking the chainsaw to them & turning them into kindling.
Patience & aptitude aren't my best virtues.
I also follow with interest.

many pallets are made with annular shanked nails from a nail gun,these are a nightmare to pull out even with a nail puller let alone a wrecking bar or claw hammer.

a demolition saw slid between timbers to get to the nail shank separates the timbers but does leave both halves of the nail in place and so prevents the use of a plane ,hence the power sander.

untreated for furniture etc,treated for structural.

DIY thread cross-pollination:

(pulling nails from pallet wood)

DIY thread cross-pollination:

(pulling nails from pallet wood)

Excellent. Very Happy

the methods on the video will work with some pallets esp.the single use light ones but the very solid multi use type often need the nails sawn or to use them as whole as possible ,they are usually treated so are not suitable for furniture or firewood but are perfect for structural stuff.

if bashing timber off the nail a pad to protect the wood is sometimes required to prevent splitting (and a club hammer works far better than a claw hammer ).
when popping the head up by hitting the nail tip take care not to bend the nail.

a mix of methods will dismantle all pallets.

The two uses for a pallet that I know of which do not involve modification are: Compost bin (drive steel pickets down the insides of the pallets to hold them in position), or tool storage for your long-handled garden tools (just screw it to the wall of your garden shed and pop the tools in handle-first so you know what you are grabbing).

Wrestling them apart does seem to be the main obstacle to doing all those creative things you see scrolling down your FB page - I am particularly take with the small garden chalet myself, sigh.
Mistress Rose

A fellow coppice worker who uses the light ones to start his retort kiln has a crowbar type thing with two welded on prongs to go either side of the nail. The nails are cleared out of the fire box after each firing. Rusticwood

Having broken pallets apart for reuse I wouldnt do it again. I found I broke
more boards than I could save for reuse. Having said
that I have seen these type of things advertised

Having broken pallets apart for reuse I wouldnt do it again.

Nor would I. Apart from the time and effort required I've always been disappointed by how quickly they rot away (outside) Would still use pallets to block gaps in fences, store stuff off the ground etc where they don't need taking apart, or for firewood!

these are quite useful but very often wont pull a long annular shank nail hence my saw comment

cheaper saws are available but those beasts are quite good at taking things to bits(houses for instance) hence having one in the tool collection.even a sabre saw with a metal cutting blade will do the job given enough time.

Something else to consider when working with 'found' pallets:

the comments from the pallet makers and timber folk are relevant however i have had pallets that have been treated with a copper compound (basic flame colour test) which i assume is copper arsinate (a well known and iirc now banned wood preservative) which as it gives off arsine in some conditions aint a good idea indoors or when working,tributyl tin is another possible treatment compound .

pallets made in the eu/usa etc should be safe ,those from less regulated places might not be and there is always a chance they have been dipped in something nasty during recycling/reuse by a less than scrupulous firm ,so being aware of such things is sensible.

as mentioned ht are safe,mb should be safe but why risk it(ppe) and chipboard ,mdf etc is use basic ppe when machining whether it is an old pallet or fresh stock from a timber yard.

I have been making things for years from old pallets. I used to do horse jumps, making different types of wing using 4x2 and 3x3 and 3/4x 4 (all Imperial inches!), and buying in the poles. It was possible as the pallets I got were from a steel company and the sheet steel arrived in big sizes-pallets up to 96" lengths were common.
As you are a fair way from me I will pm you if you want, with things I make now. The quality of the timber is the most important thing, horses for courses etc! I would advise against using those pallet blocks which are compressed out of sawdust for firewood as they usually have an adhesive to keep them together-excellent for bonfire night though. This I am told can make a mess of your chimney, similar to using fresh sawn spruce in particular for logs! Dirty marks on the chimney breast in the room don't always put you in good books with the other half.
I have a machine for demolishing pallets, google them and you will find there are several on the market. I sell the nails to the scrappy.
Hill farmer

The next Pallet project is a fence around a new veg plot.
Euro Pallets cut in half and screwed together fortified with fence posts in a rough rectangle the end result is still in my head but I think its going to be ok.
Also if a chicken wire strip is tacked to the base - Rabbit proof.
I will post pics when its done.

You can get proper sides for euro pallets Martin, and these can allow you to move them from place to place in a garden if you want to, a sort of mobile raised bed; also you can reduce the amount of slug damage by raising the crop off the ground and applying your slug control system under the raised bed I use solid boxes with copper wire nailed to the base of my 'raised bed' boxes-doesn't stop the cabbage whites attacking! Hill farmer

Gregotyn , when you say have sides do you mean they are constructed to fit the Pallets ?
Or is there something else - you see I have access to lots of free Euro Pallets and they all look the same to me,some are better nick than others but the shapes are all the same.
I like the idea of a mobile veg bed - very cool.

The euro pallet has manufactured sides about 200mm to 250mm deep, about 22mm thick. They are joined at the ends by hinges to make them be in one 'piece'. The base of the hinges has 2 tags sticking down. So they will travel flat. To erect you simply place pallet on the floor, open the flat surround to form the rectangular shape of the pallet and place this on the pallet base. In a former life I was a fork truck driver in a manufacturing plant, and one of my duties was to make these pallet sets up to the height for the operators to put the finished goods in to send to SAAB in Sweden I think. So to answer your question they do make the sides to fit the pallet- but they are hinged to allow them to flatten for transport when they are sent back to the company who fill them. You can buy them of the net if you look for them. There are several sizes-the standard I think is 1200mm x750mm. The euro pallet was devised for transport purposes to maximise lorry space- not done for gardeners at all, but they are very good!
The tags at the bottom of the hinges allow the sides to hold onto the pallet, we used to stack the sides one on top of each other to make a side up to a metre high! Hope I have explained this well enough.
Nicky Colour it green

we have access to a lot of pallets - we only get the broken ones - as the good ones are reused.
We use them for firewood mostly - nothing gets the esse to frying temperature faster than pallet wood

we have also made
feed troughs
hen houses
a garden table
kitchen shelves
log stores
a cold frame

I'm sure there is more...

There are lots more things to be made; what doesn't happen very often is that you get the quality of wood in the pallet to make exactly what you want. The trick is to take it even if you don't need it for a job today, then keep it if it is quality and burn it if it is rubbish I have lots of storage space so I keep a store of the stuff, then when I need a job in the town I have it. Years ago for taking it away I had access to 16-18ft lengths of 4&5 in wide boards, so useful, dried up after about 6 loads, but my pile is still going after about 7 years!
The thing to watch out for is the dreaded worm! I still I don't know how to control it.
Hill farmer

Thanks Gregotyn , you have enlightened me I really didn't know the Euro pallets had sides - the ones I get hold of are from Germany a friend of mine had a solar panel farm put on his land and all the products came of a wagon straight from Germany and he was suddenly swamped with hundreds of pallets. He mainly burns them in a biomass furnace but allows me to harvest what I want.
Some of the slats are really lovely wood and quite smooth I have made two perfectly fitting shed doors from them and I am no carpenter I just look at the expensive posh stuff in the garden centre photograph it on my phone and copy it at home with the pallets, I reckon I have saved hundreds of pounds doing this.

The raised beds are simple box or rectangle constructions with the thick sections of pallets for bracing - they wont last forever but I reckon a few years will be had and hopefully a few meals from what they are surrounding !

I have been fortunate enough to have a supply of pallets from a Printers..because they are used for paper they are smaller but have a solid face and are clean wood.. The printers are glad to get them taken away..
When we have used the usual ones for the front of a porch floor we have filled the gaps with wood to fit rather than rip them up.
Jam Lady

Having recently gotten a pickup truck load (that's 21) of pallets my darling daughter sent me this link

No directions but a slew of images to inspire you. Click on the top row of boxes - patio, bed, etc - and the images will conveniently sort themselves for you

Nice link, we have a few pallets in need of re-purposing, though I think they may be too crap to make much use of.
Aiming to get them checked tomorrow.
Rob R

This is my favourite pallet creation. Mistress Rose

Some of those things are amazing Jam Lady. You would need good quality pallets to make a lot of them. Rob, rather daft, but amusing. gregotyn

Jam Lady I have just looked at your daughter's link-spoiled me for choice! My librarian has ordered a small round seat-off home to make a start. I just have to get a planer thicknesser. I always wanted an excuse! jema

lol, I have never come up with a legit excuse for one of them. Mistress Rose

Husband wants one but the problem is where to put it. It would certainly be useful for our milled timber. I still live in hopes of having bellows made from out own timber and son doing the leatherwork for them. gregotyn

I have my family bellows, still working, made from elm and leather. I am not even going to volunteer to photograph them after my last fiasco! But take it from me they are beautiful if you are into antiques! JB

I tried to make things out of pallets in the past but gave up after I found that most pallets are so cheaply made that any attempt to make them into anything else just turned them into a pile of splinters. The pallets that are good enough to be used as something else tend not to be given away or to be more useful as pallets (the last time I reused pallets was some decent pallets which I used under a workshop sitting on a stable yard where we weren't allowed to put any foundations down so I wanted something freestanding but which would have airflow - so pallets used as pallets were a great option. lowri

I have a friend who used to work at a printers, and she provided me with much smaller pallets than your average back-of-a-lorry type. Much lighter to handle, sometimes with solid tops which made tables! Also easier to pile up when not in use.
One of my sheds occasionally floods to a depth of over 2 inches (ditch behind it takes runoff from the roof) and my 2 medium size freezers each sit on a pallet. No worries! In case of abundant floods, add another pallet!

Oh dear, I see Ginkgotree has already covered the printers pallets area! That'll teach me not to read the whole post!! gregotyn

lowri, all ideas are welcome, but do you stand the freezers on polythene on top of the pallets, as wood absorbs the water and so if the pallet comes into contact with the freezer when the pallet is wet could rust it?. lowri

Never thought of that - but the freezers have feet which are the only bit touching the wood! The Hotpoint big freezer seems to be coated and non rust, it never has in X number of years; the little cheapo Ice King I would be suspicious about, it does rust at the drop of a hat (round the lid - no pun intended!)
I always thought there should be a drill on the apple-corer principle to drill out nails, but never managed to source one! This was in pre-Internet days! I now use them whole anyway!!
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