I just did an online search for ‘DIY Pallet Projects’. Search outcome: “About 45,700,000 results.” Whoa. To say that DIY pallet projects are popular is an understatement. And if you’ve spent any time on Pinterest or glanced at the cover of a DIY magazine, you will certainly have seen some truly WOW pallet projects.
Why DIY Pallet Projects Are So Popular
Here are a few of the reasons why DIY pallet projects are popular.
- Versatility – rustic or lux! Mixing different sizes and colors of pallet pieces can create a beautifully eclectic project, and with a little sanding, brings a rustic touch into your home. Or with sanding and proper preparation, pallet wood will take paint or other finishes to deliver a more high-end finish.
- Cost Control – one of the reasons why you’re doing a DIY project might be because you want to control your expenses. If you’ve gone to a lumber yard to get an estimate on how much wood will cost, you might have some serious sticker-shock depending on the kind of wood you looked at. But pallet wood can be way less expensive. Yes, you can buy pallets, but there are also places you can get pallets for free. Check out this article for more ideas.
- Less Intimidating – pallet wood just seems more approachable. It can be easy to work with and if you make a mistake, it’s just pallet wood. And because it was free or you paid a lot less than you would have for something like walnut, it’s not so nerve-wracking to take a saw to some pallet wood.
- The Crème de la Crème of Upcycling – pallet wood has already had a great and productive life. And instead of ending up in a trash pile or bonfire, you get to breathe new life into pallet wood and turn it into something functional, something fun and funky, or something beautiful.
Photo credit: Imgflip.com
The Downside of DIY Pallet Projects
When you click on that DIY pallet project on Pinterest, one of the first things you’ll read is how easy these projects are. The project itself might be easy, but one important step is often glossed over: pallet preparation. If you are doing a DIY pallet project on your own, here are the 5 things you need to consider before you even start:
- Personal safety. Always wear gloves and eye protection. Depending on where your pallet wood came from, there is probably all kinds of muck and build up. Gloves are simple and you will be so grateful for the protection from splinters. Plus, there are nails everywhere that could be sticking out. Eye protection will be necessary when you start cutting the pallet or prying it apart and possibly scraping the wood. Dust masks are optional but recommended depending on what kind of shape your pallet is in, and whether you’re working in a well-ventilated space or not.
- Disassembly. Cut the two outside boards off the pallet slats. If there is a center board supporting the pallet slats, you’ll need to decide if you want to cut the slats where they attach to the center board. If you want to keep the length, you’ll need to separate the slats from the center board by using a hammer, mallet, or prybar. All of this is a workout! Check out step #3 in this article for tips on how to disassemble pallets.
Our rule of thumb is that we will only be able to use half of the material that comes from a pallet.
- Metal. Did I mention there are nails in your pallet wood? You might even find staples. All of these items can spell disaster for your other tools. Make sure to inspect your wood closely and remove stray nails, staples, or other metal materials. Any one of these can be dangerous and can wreak havoc on your saw blades while cutting your pallet wood. We have a metal-detector in our workshop that is invaluable.
- Sanding. Probably the least glamorous part of any DIY pallet project is the amount of sanding you will likely need to do. If you want a look that is totally rustic and no one will ever touch your project, then you might be able to get away with minimal sanding. But if your project is at all interactive, is a piece of furniture, or has any functional element, you will need to sand, sand, sand. You don’t want your friends getting splinters while they admire your amazing project.
- Plan for waste. Pallets can be in pretty rough shape, especially the free ones. Some of the slats will be split, some will have too much gunk and build-up, and some just won’t look good. Our rule of thumb is that we will only be able to use half of the material that comes from a pallet. So when you’re calculating how many pallets you need for your project, we suggest doubling your estimate.
Let’s get a pallet project started!
If that all sounds like more than you bargained for, we have some creative class options where you can opt for pallet wood as the project material, AND we will have already disassembled the pallets and ensured all the wood is ready to go!
Check out our Pinterest page for more pallet projects ideas!