Introduction: Easy, Quick Make-Do Shelters From FREE Pallets!

Okay, so I'm workin' my butt off trying to get ready for Halloween, the theme of which was going to be Gotham City and Animated Series version of Batman, and something I noticed while building these huge structures in my yard to simulate skyscrapers... How easy it would be to make cubicles about 6 1/2 feet by 6 1/2 feet by 7 1/2 feet tall out of the pallets I was using! So, I decided that eventually I would publish a quick rundown and use some of the pics from my Halloween build to illustrate this remarkably easy way of erecting a temporary shelter or shed.

Step 1: Just the Facts, Ma'am...

I'm only going to show you the very basics of how I put up the framework, and posting the appropriate pics. This should be enoughn to get you started and you can then take it to whatever level you desire.  I had the good fortune to come across an ad on Craigslist for free pallets from a local warehouse. I took my truck and utility trailer over to the place one afternoon, and found that most of the pallets piled up outside of the business were used to ship queen and king-size mattresses! The ones I chose were 76" x 86" and I managed to load nine pallets on the my trailer.  The idea was to make a three-sided base, then put up a single piece in front and over the base to simulate a tall building. 
I laid the pallets out and began by attaching a nice long piece of 2x4 to one end of the front facing pallet.  I stood the pallet up and let it lean back just a bit against the board.  This kept the pallet in place while I stood up the second pallet at a right angle to the first and screwed the two together.  Something I figured out quickly was that I needed to slice off the overhang of the slats on the side pallet in the front so that I could run screws through the slats on the front pallet into the frame on the second pallet that was exposed by the cuts.  This made the joint pretty solid.

Step 2: Cont'd From Step 1

I then removed the 2x4 because it was no longer necessary, and then I set up the third pallet in similar fashion as the second one.  The front-facing edge had the overhang of the slats removed, then the exposed surfaced was screwed onto the overhanging slats of the front pallet. I wasn't sure how strong the structure was going to be, so I had added some corner braces to add strength, but it turns out that this wasn't really needed. I had had a cross brace to keep the first two pallets square while I added the third side.  I ended up leaving it in just because it added stiffness.  The second pic here is actually the second base of three I eventually built.  As you can see, this forms a structure about 6 1/2 feet on a side and just over 7 feet tall.  If you add a roof and closed in the 4th side with a door and even a window, you would have a practically free temporary shelter!

Step 3: Some Additional Pictures From the Build

I am adding some more pics from the Halloween build to illustrate how I built and sheathed the towers.  I had another piece of luck by advertising on Craigslist myself asking for scrap plywood, and I received a reply to tell me that a local haunted house was being dismantled and if I asked real nice the manager of the project might give me some plywood panels.  I ended up with about 15 sheets in varying degrees of condition.  That wasn't a major factor, because the build was going to be temporary, and I went ahead and used a couple of gallons of flat black paint across all the plywood surfaces of the towers to cover any deficiencies.  I was not so happy with my end result, but alot of that had to do with running out of time for the project.  But, I learned a valuable lesson: Erecting a shed-sized framework can be super-easy and very inexpensive if you put your mind to it!