Introduction: Eco-Friendly Entertainment Piece

I wanted to have an entertainment piece that would hold all of the components we had and give storage space for movies, games, etc.... It also had to be easy to move to clean behind and to plug/unplug components or to change them out. I love pallets and I created my design using the pallets I had received textbooks on weeks before. When I was an assistant principal I received boxes and boxes of new textbooks on pallets. I asked if I could keep them and the maintenance guys were happy to not have to return to collect them. They said they threw them in the trash.....Not any more!

Step 1: Select, Inspect, and Clean, Clean, Clean

The first step is to secure pallets. Then make sure you clean them very well. Use gloves and a mask when you clean them. You never know what has been on the pallets and what they have been exposed to or even how they were made for that matter. Safety first! I would only use pallets indoors if they had been properly cleaned and then heavily sealed - just in case. Check the stamp on the pallet to see if it was heat treated (HT) or is stamped with MB for methyl bromide treatment to prevent using chemical treated pallets inside. There are probably many other things to check for on pallets to make sure they are safe for interior use but since I sealed mine well and don't use them near any food source I feel ok with them in the house.

Inspect your pallets to make sure they are structurally sound enough for your project. You don't want ones that have too many broken or splintered boards or that have obvious damage, or heavy grease or oil on them. I also do not use the newer pallets I have come across that seem to be made with some kind of particle board blocks rather than solid wood. I only use the solid wood type pallets.

Clean them well! I used detergent, bleach, regular liquid dish soap, and a pressure washer.

The picture of the white painted pallet and the one with blue paint is displayed as an example. The one I painted white is a great pallet to use and I used it when making a daybed. The one with the blue paint seemed to have more problems and no stamp. It was super heavy and looked like it had a lot of stuff spilled on it. I have not used it. It is still in the "bone pile" in case I find a use for it on an upcoming project. If not, it goes away.

Step 2: Gather Your Materials

  • Cleaned pallets
  • mask and gloves (you used them when you cleaned the pallets too I hope)
  • a way to cut the pallets if you want them halved, or cut to some other dimension. I use a sawzall to cut pallets.
  • Sandpaper of various grits. The smaller the number grit the rougher the sandpaper. Start rough and go smoother. An electric sander is ideal but you can do it without one. You want your final product to be smooth.
  • I ended up using a 4 foot pine board that is a 1x10x48 just as a base board for my tv to rest on. I stained it to match the rest of the structure. I did this because I did not add wood slats to the pallets and I wanted to make sure my tv was not going to move or accidentally slide between the pallet boards and fall over if I moved the piece.
  • finish - paint or stain
  • Casters if you want your's mobile
  • drill and screws or drill bit and a few bolts to hold base pallets together.
  • screws to attach casters
  • old rags or towels to wipe down the wood and remove dust before you apply paint or stain.
  • embellishments, if you desire
  • soap and water to clean up
  • On mine I used strips of wooden panelling and cut holes in it and fit cracked marbles in the spaces. Then I attached those strips to the top level of pallet openings. They look pretty with the glow from old strings of Christmas lights shining through. The lights are tucked in behind the panel strips.

Step 3: Begin to Arrange Your Pallets to See What Type of Arrangement Works Best for Your Project.

Find the two pallets, or the two halves of a pallet depending on the dimensions you want the piece to end up being once complete. You will use these pieces for your base. These are the only pallets, actually half pallets, that I have fastened together. The first design I made I arranged to two base pallets with the pallet opening facing the living room (as seen in a few of the pictures). I took it apart later and rearranged it because it looked like it was beginning to sag. I rearranged my design and the base pallets are arranged with the solid side facing out toward the living room. This seems to have given the structure more support and there is no sagging at all. I have had this piece in my living room for the past 4 years with no problems. Sometimes I think I want to take it apart and get a traditional entertainment stand but I am spoiled by the storage, versatility, and ease of movement to clean or get something from behind it due to the industrial castor design.

Paint or stain your pallets in the desired finish. I stained mine after a lot of sanding and then I used 3 coats of sealer (polyurethane) just to make sure they were safe for the air quality in my home.

Stack and arrange your pallets in different ways until you have the style right for you. I came up with this idea because I love Japanese Tansu type furniture and it sort of has that feel to me. You can secure the pallets together if you choose to do so. I never have because it has not been necessary. If I wanted to I could disassemble the entire piece in a matter of a minute or two. The weight of the tv and accessories holds it together fine. If I move it a lot to clean and I think the pallets have shifted a little I just bump them back in place. This has not been an issue for me at all.

Step 4: Begin Your Final Stack/build

Start with your two base pallets. Screw them together where the two pieces will meet or use a drill bit and drill 2 holes and secure the pallets together using bolts and nuts.

Screw on your castors at this step. Make sure you have enough so that your structure is secure. I used 4 per pallet foundation or base piece.

Arrange and stack your pallets any way you choose

Add your tv, components, etc....

You can also add the thin paneling piece at the top if you want to drill holes and add marbles once you stain the paneling to match the structure. If you do this step attach it to the front of the pallets at the top open section. Wrap stringed lights behind the panel pieces or carefully staple to the top underside of the top pallet so that the light glows softly through the marbles. I planned to use tile pieces too and that is why they are in the picture but I decided to only use the cracked marbles.

Enjoy your unique entertainment piece! You can feel good about completing a cool project and about keeping more materials out of a landfill. It really is an eco-friendly project. I would love to see your designs if you make something similar.

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