Picture of Pallet Adirondack Chair

Here's a fun way to reuse wood.  Make this Adirondack chair from shipping pallets or other reclaimed lumber. 

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Step 1: The low-down on pallets

Picture of The low-down on pallets

Pallets come in many shapes and styles.  They're made from lots of different types of wood.  They are readily available for free.

In fact, most companies pay people to take them away.

But there's a catch: pallets aren't easy to take apart.  They're also usually not made of very good lumber. If you use them for projects, you're going to spend A LOT of time dismantling them and you're not going to get much from a single pallet.

If you're expecting perfection, than pallet lumber may not be right for you.  You can try salvaging used material from places like craigslist.  I collected an impressive amount of wood for my other pallet instructable, the Pallet Playhouse.

If you're not interested in turning a pallet into something else or trucking around the nation looking for free stuff, substitute the pallet wood for some nice cedar or pressure treated wood.  I made a PT set in a similar pattern that's held up for 11+ years of direct exposure to the elements.  They're still perfectly sound.  You won't get that kind of performance from pallet wood. 

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bulldawg131 month ago
How much wood would I need if I would buy the wood
theway20041 year ago
Is all of this clicking through needed? Could warnings not come all on one page, and the "where you get them thin, did that need to be spread out over a couple? I just Want to get to the directions! Start with the warnings on one page, then the where to get the next then start into the task

Please stop whining.Just be happy he made the instructable!

Directly under the title you will find 4 buttons. Download, View All Steps, Go To Step and Next. The view all steps will show you the full instruction all on one page. The download is also great if you would like to save the instructions for offline viewing. (These options may only be available if you are logged in.)

kcook19571 year ago
I take the pallets apart by cutting between the 2X4 and the board with a sawzall and a blade that will cut through nails. Then I use a punch from the back side to push the nails out. This saves splitting the wood and results in the most usable lumber in the fastest time.
mortagaz1 year ago
Thanks for sharing.
I will be shrinking it down and making one for my 2 year old this afternoon.

Thanks again!
great explanation great chair i found a saw that may help in taking pallets apart quicker and with less waste
its called a demolition saw you can cut though the gap between the planks and the blocks to cut the nails (i hammered the left overs later)
thanks for a great description
Seems the pics didn't load, I'll try again.
jkratman (author)  skirmishmonkey1 year ago
Thanks, and thanks to you for the great easy to follow 'ible.
Another angle.
Great instructible. I needed a chair so I could relax with a nice cold beer up on the rooftop space after messing about in my 'workshop'. I had some pallet wood and this gave me an idea. Anyway, here is a pic of the completed project (with a few minor tweaks - rounded over the seat slats and back slats and gave the arms more of a curve). The only problem, is, the wife and my daughter saw it and now want me to build one for each of them.
I also made full sized cardboard templates first which helped, but will now make 1/4" plywood so I can make exact replicas.
Another tip for filling in the holes and cracks / finishing in reclaimed wood - instead of wood putty, I mix sawdust (collected from the dust bag of the sander) with wood glue. It dries to the exact colour of the piece.
woodwarrior2 years ago
Great work, very well explained!! I´m going to try it!! With your explanation I see it easy, I think that the most difficult is to pass inch to centimetres :D.
Regards from spain.
allteal2 years ago
What size screws?
Depends on how thick your boards are.
For 1" boards use 1/4" by 1 5/8"
For 3/4" boards use 1/4" by 1 1/4"
paganwonder2 years ago
I have used this pattern for many Adirondack chairs and it is exceptionally comfortable...highly recommended. When I breakdown pallets if the ends are cracked I tend to just cut them off prior to prying the center loose. I also tend to wait until the wood is dry and cold...
mscharf3 years ago
A great place that I have found to salvage wood is in trashed box springs. I have found the the best place to find them is around apartment buildings and even more so around college dorms. due the high turnover rate of occupants. The wood is generally strong and in pretty good condition.
I agree with Achilles...based on what I know because I am a nurse I would have to find a way to treat box spring wood before I could use it...but as a nurse I am squeamish about things normal people aren't bothered by...all of that being said- the wood found in side upholstered furniture is generally very good quality, despite being rough on the surface.
Watch out for bed bugs however! those little buggers can hide anywhere, and once you've got them they aren't leaving.

A lot of mattresses/box springs may have been left out for a reason.

Great idea... just be careful
On this step I found it easier to copy the image into Excel. I cropped the image to include just the board than re-sized it using the ruler. You can also re-size the image by double clicking the picture and a format tab will appear at the top of the page. In the upper right corner you can type in the dimensions you want for the height and width. After this I copied it into paint and whited out most of the board color (to save ink when I print). I saved it as a JPEG formatted picture to my desktop. Then in Excel I inserted the picture. Resize again.

Even with margins at 0" you can only print 7.5" x 10" on 8.5" x 11". So set the margins at 0" all around. Orient the page to 'landscape'. Then I copy and pasted 3 of the same pictures stacked on top of each other, not overlapping. Then in page layout view cropped the first picture to just be on the first page horizontally. The second image down on the second page horizontally. The third image on the third page horizontally. And the fourth image on the fourth page horizontally.

Then I stacked the images all on one page to save paper. Print it and cut it out. Attach to board and voila!
I use a 24" pry-bar with a wedge on one end and a claw on the other.


Start with the middle 2" x 4" support when prying and then do the outer ones.

With the wedge I pry the board up a little (about a half inch) than stomp the board back down. This will force the nail head (not always on softer wood) to pop up above the board. Then it can be removed. If it doesn't pop up, I pry the board so that the nails come up with the board, making sure to do the middle support beam of the board first.

An advantage to cutting the boards off is that you may save time and get rid of the parts of the board that are holy.
wulfhardt2 years ago
This is a great instructable, thanks for uploading all this good info and clear pictures.

The only changes I made are in how I took apart the pallets and the width of the chair. I used a reciprocating saw with a bimetal/demolition blade to simply cut through the pallet nails, then used a nail & hammer to tap the nail stubs out of each board. I did this because I used heavy-duty pallets with five stringers through them, making it nearly impossible to rock the boards back and forth like you would with a three-stringer pallet.

The chair itself is very comfortable. I sit in it and just don't want to get up. But I'm a big fat dude, so I wanted a little more room to spread out. So I went back and added 8 inches to the width, and the final product is ideal for my size.
rx7ja19893 years ago
Thank you very much for your instructable. It was clear and detailed, making it easy to follow, especially the templates for each piece of this great puzzle.
I have little woodworking experience and the pictures help tremendously.
I just finished assembling my chair, no I just need to sand and apply some polyurethane.

Thanks again.
Picture 003.jpg
jkratman (author)  rx7ja19893 years ago
Hey, nice work! Glad you liked the instructable.
We got two pallets free from out neighbor the other day and the next day I work up and thought you know what Im going to use those to make my dad an Adirondack chair for fathers day. After a quick google from plans I found yours and I was luckily enough to have a few days back to back to work on it and I now have a rock solid chair thanks to your great instructable! Im 99% sure I had seen this before and thats why I was inspired to build it. Anyways thanks for the great post my dad is going to love it!
Twotim2214 years ago
Nice chair. I like to make things out of pallets too-recently I made hanging chair out of a pallet and made an instructable about it. Some people commented to me that pallet wood is treated and can be bad for your health to work with. Have you heard anything like this? Someone even said that you shouldn't  touch it.
The pressure treatment that is given to wood that you can buy at your big box stores these days are not as unhealthy as it has been in the past. The arsnic based treatment has been changed to a copper based one that does not contain carcinogens although you still don't want to burn it.
jkratman (author)  Twotim2214 years ago
I saw your chair, it's pretty awesome.

Take a look at step 2 of this instructable-- I talk a bit about pallet treatment, etc.

I'd say if you use common sense, you'll be fine.  I wouldn't want to handle MetylBromide treated pallets, but they should be clearly marked as such.

Use a speed square for your saw guide. 
The cut will be Square to the wood plank every time.
Excellent suggestion!

I was just mulling over how best to get square cuts without too much messing about when I just want the pallet to come apart. I doubt I'd have thought of using a speed square, but if I'm not mistaken I've got one buried in the garage somewhere. You just saved me a huge amount of time.


gonzaloleal4 years ago
very good

Roughly how many pallets do you use per chair?

Thanks for the great project!

jkratman (author)  no1sangel19784 years ago
It really depends on what condition the pallets are in.  If every board were perfect, it would only be one or two.

Usually, though, 50% of the boards are unusable.

Figure 4-5 pallets.

Good luck!
Want longer planks?

Sometimes there is enough room  to use a reciprocating (sawzall) saw and cut the nails between the two pieces of wood.

 If not I use a breaker block, which is a scrap 2x4 with a 45 angle on it.

  Place the block on the backside of the plank, angle the point toward the nail Head; hit it  a few times to free up a gap.

The blade is thin so you can work it in with minimal damage. 

 You can cut all the nails this way even the center support. 
This will give longer planks to work with. 

If you don’t want the nail heads, just use a punch (old nail) tap the heads up and pull them out.

Note, I use junk old blades. 

digimancer5 years ago
 This is a pretty cool idea. I work in shipping and have access to tons of free pallets. I think i'm gonna grab a few every week and bring them home to stockpile up some scrap wood for this. I'm also gonna try to under engineer this a bit to see if I can reduce the need for jig saw cuts and use my chop saw and sander more. 
jkratman (author)  digimancer5 years ago

You could certainly use the chop saw for the armrest supports.

The major pieces for the jigsaw are the armrests, the top and bottom seat rest brackets, and the seat stringer.  You might be able to do something with the seat stringer, but I'm stumped on the rest of it.

The jigsaw isn't my favorite tool.  Wish I had a bandsaw.

Good luck.  I'd love to see how it works out.
Speidumb5 years ago
 Great Instructable - Now I have to figure out how to haul pallets in my car.  
LoneWolf5 years ago
Adirondack as in Adirondack Mountains?
Oh, thanks for the link.
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