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We moved a few months ago and I noticed behind the new Taekwondo school that I was going too that there were a bunch of pallets. I asked if I could have some, and they said I could have as many as I wanted. Since then I've been building stuff out of pallets left and right.

This is a little guide showing all the stuff I made out of those pallets and some of the tricks I've learned taking them apart, preparing, and finishing them.

Each step is a different pallet project with the exception of the first 3. All the projects have the general dimensions of them with the exception of the coffee table which has the specific dimensions of the wood, incase you want to build it. Also, let me know if you want specific dimensions of other projects.

Thank you to all the people who voted for this project in the Manly Crafts and the Workshop contest.

Step 1: Taking Apart Pallets

Taking apart pallets is probably the most tedious and time-consuming step in making whatever it is you want to make out of them. With that in mind, this is how I (after much experimenting) took my pallets apart.
  1. (picture 1) The tools I used were a hammer, a sledgehammer, a mallet, and something called the wonderbar (a small crowbar).
  2. (picture 2) I picked the side of the pallet that had the least or junkiest boards to pry up.
  3. (picture 3) I wore safety glasses (as everybody should) and I also wore hearing protection because I was working in my garage which made the pounding vary loud.
  4. (picture 4-8) For the prying part I used the mallet and the wonderbar. I hammered underneath the board at the end which seems to work best. I pried up only a little bit at a time where each board was nailed down to keep the board from splitting as little as possible. I repeated the process until all the boards on one side were off.(pictures 9&10)
  5. (pictures 11&12) I slid two 2x4s underneath the pallet so that the 2x4s attached to the pallet could rest on them.
  6. (pictures 13-21) I proceded to pound/hammer the boards out with the mallet/sledgehammer (depending on the condition of the board) moving the 2x4 back after each board was pounded out until all the boards were pounded out.
  7. Next, I pounded and then pried the nails out.
And that is how I took apart my pallets, and still do.

Step 2: Preparing Pallet Wood

I found that the best way to prepare pallet wood is to power wash it, especially if you don't plan on sanding the wood. The power washer sometimes takes the paint of the wood too.

When power washing, spray the wood with the nozzle about 3 to 4 inches away. Don't spray to close or you will take to much off and end up with a bunch of lines in your wood.

Make sure to let the wood dry for a couple of days especially the 2x4s which tend to take longer to dry.

Step 3: Finishing

For most of my projects I usually put two coats of polyurethane on with a light sand using a sanding block in between the coats. The polyurethane I usually use is satin.

I usually don't sand the wood after power washing it (with the exception of the coffee table). I like the natural texture to the wood better. If your not going to sand the wood I recommend that you brush it of with a wire brush to get some of the loose splinters off.

Step 4: Corner Table

Going back, there are things I would have done differently on the corner table, but overall I like the way it turned out.

I got the metal bars from the wardrobe boxes left over from are last move. I had to cut of the ends of four of them off and them bolt them together so that it would be long enough in the front.

General dimensions: 37 3/4" wide, 26 3/4" deep, 24" tall

Step 5: Magazine Holder

The magazine rack was one my first projects, so it's not as precise. That's also when I discovered that wood screws don't work to well. They tend to split the wood even with pilot holes.

I decided to leave the wood natural on this project to give it a more rustic look. The bar going across is from a wardrobe box. I plan on buying a big dowel to screw underneath the bar to give it more comfort.

General dimensions: 24 1/4" long, 10 3/4" wide, 11 1/2" tall

Step 6: End Tables

This is my version of MidnightMaker'sRecycled Potted Plant Table. I made two of them to use as end tables, and they work great! They is no difference in dimensions between mine and his. The only difference is that I used screws instead of nails. I also power washed it and put two coats of polyurethane on.

Step 7: Bench

The bench was kind of a complicated project. The main reason being that I didn't have any pallet 2x4s long enough. I did figure out a solution though as you can see.

I took two 2x4s and clamped them in a pipe clamp. Then I screwed a board into both 2x4s (pictures 12-14). I then screwed in two 3" screws at angles, one on the bottom (picture 19), and one on the top (picture 20).

I also tried something different. I decided to put a coat of stain on the top. In my opinion I like the look of polyurethane better, but the stain still looks pretty nice.

General dimensions: 47" long, 16" wide, 18 3/4" tall.

Step 8: Little Table/Stool

We had an old folding chair that had disintegrated, so I decided to use the frame to build this little table/stool. All the screws I used for this project were 2 in. screws.

I ripped a 10" 2x4 in half, giving me two pieces which I screwed into from the underside (picture 4). Two of the holes in the chair frame were already the perfect size,(picture 5) but the the other two were to big, so I used washers (picture 6). Next I cut three 10" boards for the top. I had to slightly rip one of the boards to get it to fit.

Step 9: Coffee Table

The coffee table was my pet project. It took me forever to design the thing. So far it's the nicest piece of furniture I've ever built.

The boards I used were thicker than normal being almost an inch thick! The whole thing has two coats of satin polyurethane with the exception of the top, which has one coat of satin and two coat of semi gloss.

If you want to build it, make sure to look at the image notes. They tell which boards are which, and they also give the length of the screws.

General dimensions: 48" long, 27 1/2" wide, 22" tall

Specific Dimensions
  • top boards a. - 4 boards = 48"x 3 1/2" (picture 19)
  • top boards b. - 4 boards = 48"x 3 1/8" (picture 19)
  • legs - 4 2x4s = 21"x 2 7/8" (picture 7)
  • support boards a. - 2 boards = 40"x 3 1/2" with a 45 degree angle cut at both ends (picture 9).
  • support boards b. - 2 boards = 20"x 3 1/2" with a 45 degree angle cut at both ends (picture 10).
  • middle support board - 1 board = 22 3/16" x no more than 3 1/2" (pictures 14&15).
  • corner blocks - 4 2x4s = 5 7/8"x 3 1/2" with a 45 degree angle cut at both ends (pictures 16, 17, 18).
  • the overhang lengthwise (at each end) = 1 3/4"
  • the overhang widthwise (on the sides) = 1 7/8"

Step 10: Cat Stuff

The Cat House.
Our old cat house was too big, too heavy, and too ugly. So with some of the scrap pieces of pallet wood I decided to build a new one. I designed it to fit in one of the corners in our house so it would take up as little space as possible. I put a coat of camo-green paint to cover up some of defects in the wood.
General dimensions: 35" wide, 24 1/2" deep, 36 3/4" tall

Cat Bed
Pretty self explanatory. Just a bed for our cats. I went old-fashion on this project using nails instead of screws. I left the wood natural as well.
General dimensions: 20" long, 13 1/2" wide, 4 1/4" tall

Step 11: The End

Goodbye for now and thanks for looking at my guide. Make sure to check back now and then to see if there's something new because I will continue to add to this guide.

KneXtreme
<p>Thank you to all the people who voted for this project in the Manly Crafts and the Workshop contest.</p>
<p>A $30 pallet buster or pry bar from ebay does the job of all those tools you have.</p>
<p>Are 2x4 sturdy enough for legs or do you have any suggestions?</p>
<p>How did I miss this?! Great projects! :D</p>
<p>Thank you.</p>
love working with pallets.. please feel free to join my page on fb &quot;wood pallet stuff&quot; we would love to have you
Thank you for the offer.
Cool one
Wow, I love that coffee table! It looks amazing! Someday I wish I could have the guts to make one.
just a comment on pallets dismatyling, the ones i got I've found by coincidence on a rainy day that, wetting the pallets first before bashing out caused much less splits even on the worst looking boards. keep up the interesting work I doing much the same sort of stuff.
Interesting. I'll be sure to mention that when I update my guide after the contests have ended.
Cool projects! I know nothing about woodworking but this looks like a great guide.
Thank you. How's citadel coming?
I haven't worked on it in a while, there's only 1 element. :-P I need to start building again I guess.
Ha, ha, same here. My ball machine only has one element on it too :-)
Yay, I'm not alone. :-D
Cool! Be careful pallets are cheap wood and may contain bugs.
Wish I had your ambition! I work around wood/pallets/scrap bins all day and never take advantage of it. Great Job!
I think the stain makes it look very antiquey! <br>Can't you, or didn't you put the poly on top of the stain? <br>It looks shiny, like you did.
Thank you. Your right. I could, and I did put poly on top of the stain. I guess I forgot to mention that.
Don't be using those damn drywall screws they going to let you down sooner rather than later. Use real wood screws and not only predrill but also countersink before you drive them. There is a special bit that will do both tasks for you at the same time you can get each bit sized to your wood screws. Lastly when you drive the screws, don't drive them too hard. Driving them too hard or tight will cause the cracking problem that you have had. This is a particular problem near the end of the board , as you've shown.
Thank you for the advice. I was planning on buying one of those special drill bits anyway before my next major project. Also, most of those screws aren't just normal drywall screws. There're either galvanized exterior, deck, or fence screws. I hear what your saying though. We cleaned out my grandparents basement and they had a whole container of those screws. I was just using what I had on hand.
Love the coffee table. Wonder if the screws could come from underneath so they don't show on top? Or drive them deeper into the table top, cut the heads off the old nails and epoxy then over the screws for a completely rustic look? Not sure. Anyway, great use of pallets for cool looking furniture.
Thanks. If I were to go back and redesign it, I would probably drill in the screws from the underside. I like your idea about the nail heads though. I might have to try that.
Great idea and a great job!.... Got my vote!...
Thanks a bunch man :) I appreciate the vote.
Nice! I really like the little stool. I have tossed too many old chairs in the bon fire. I will repurpose them into stools cool.
Thank you. The stool is one of my favorites.
Don't use those damn drywall screws. Use either woodsx
Nice to see all that lovely timber getting reused &amp; some really great results too, I think you may have given people a few idea for new year projects. <br>Most of my own 'ibles are about salvage &amp; reuse so I really do appreciate seeing others doing the same.
I love this.
Wow, great! Is a model of recycling.
Thanks
thanks for the inspiration :)
Your welcome.
Sweet bro, nice job, wish I could find some pallets and crates lying around somewhere... But I also wish I lived in my own skyscraper...
Thanks. Your own skyscraper huh...
Whoa! So much nice stuff. :D <br /> <br />I especially like the cat house!
Thank you. So do my cats.

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Bio: Hi, I'm KneXtreme. I'm a Christian and I'm home schooled. I love to build with almost anything especially knex. I also do ... More »
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