Free Heavy Duty Shelves




Introduction: Free Heavy Duty Shelves

So I know there are a lot of pallet tutorials but I've never found any really to be truly free or obtainable. The problem I have though is not enough room and a love for books. A whole lot of books, so out of necessity and with a little ingenuity I designed these shelves and wanted to share it with you. With minimal tools, little time, and effort you can make them to.

Step 1: Gathering Your Material and Tools

To start this off I want to explain a little bit about pallets. There are many different types but they tend to fall into two categories high profile and low profile.

High profile pallets are the ones that have wood underneath them these tend to be sturdier and a little more heavy duty. Companies will buy these pallets back making them in high demand or inaccessible from stores.

Low profile pallets don't have any wood on the bottom half and are considered almost worthless except for scraps or firewood. That's why I build from them. I only know of one place in the west coast that will buy them and only for $1 a piece so no one wants them. I get mine from a local hardware store for free and they already have everything we need to make some awesome stuff.



Circular saw

That is all that is necessary if you want to get fancy then I would recommend a sander (circular or belt), a sawzall or hand saw, screw gun, screws, and cinder blocks. But once again not really necessary mostly depends on what you want or how much you want to customize them or make them shiny.


2 ~ 3 pallets per shelving section

Step 2: Preparing the Lumber

First thing we need to do is to prepare our pallets for cutting up. Now I pound off the center piece to make it easier to cut with a circular saw and to give myself as much work/shelving space that I can. While not specifically required if you want free selves it's necessary to get the nails we will be using to put our selves together.

Second you need to raise the pallet of the ground and give clearance for the center part to come off. You can use some of the pallets like I did in my picture or cinder blocks. I have found that if I put cinder blocks close to the center I have better results because their isn't as much bouncing when you are trying to hammer our the center section.

Then I aim for the gaps between the boards and go to town. Sometimes they come off easily and other times they take some force but just keep at it and you will start to see a gap form. Once I have a gap on one side I work on the other and switch back and forth. If all goes well it should come off as one whole piece that you can use in other projects. If not lucky then it will break up and you'll have some great kindling for your fires.

Once the board has fallen off I flip the pallet over to show the nails sticking out. Once again I take my hammer and drive them through the pallet to stick out the top. Flip it over again and pull them out with the other side of my hammer. You should now have around 16 nails that are mostly straight. Save those we will be using them later in the project or at least put them somewhere no on will run over them.

Step 3: Sawing It All Up

Now this is where it depends on what you need. I like a wide shelf so I cut off the two edges by using my circular saw two cut both sides on one side and then flipping them over and cutting the sides to separate it into 3 parts. Save the center we can use it for other projects or special length shelves.

If you want smaller or bigger width you can cut between any slats.

This would also be the time to sand off all the edges and sides to make it smooth it all depends on how nice to need them. I leave mine rough because their just garage shelves and don't need to be nice. This would also be the time to stain or paint them. I did this for my library shelves but once again if you want them free you don't need to be fancy.

You can see how small you can make them as well that stack of sides/shelves is enough for three shelving units. So they pack up really flat and tight. Making them great for moving or storing when not needed.

Step 4: Start the Construction

If your like me and tend to build alone then clamps can help you out preventing things from wiggling around but if you can haves someone to help you then I wouldn't worry about them.

This is where you have another option of making them fancy or free. In a few of my shelves I've used screws because I'm still in college and tend to move a lot so easy disassemble is a plus for me. But for my garage shelves I decided to use the nails that I got out of the center board and they worked like a charm. I would recommend pre-drilling and selecting the nails that have points on them if you can.

I select the roughest ones to be the sides. To add character to the pieces as well as leaving the nice ones for the shelves so their flatter and more supportive.

Stand up your shelve and space them out then put a side on top. I find that you need two shelves per section is what I needed although for my garage I had some special spacing on my shelves. Then put one of the shelves sides flush with one of the sides. I put two nails into each shelf and haven't had any problems with weight. Once a side is complete flip it over and do the other side the same way.

You've now completed one section of shelves.

Step 5: Stack Them Up to the Roof

Once you've completed individual shelves you can stack them up drill some holes into the base and hammer it down. Each side is 40" side so you can stack them two high. Once you have them nailed on you can put a shelf on top of the connection if you want them.

Step 6: Special Cases

Each shelf is 40" wide and if you need to get them smaller than you can use the center pieces for the shelving material. Also these are the shelves that I keep the center part in the pallet and cut through them all using a sawzall. Then I can nail down the shelves onto top, bottom, and center piece.

Step 7: Now to Fill and Organize

Just load them up with whatever you need I can double stack my Hardbound books without any problem as well as all my charcoal and assorted things. I've never had a problem with bowing of my shelves no matter how much I load them up.

If you want to make them more stable/shiny you can put plywood on the back but once again you don't need it but it ups the fanciness.

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    6 years ago

    Good old American ingenuity! Great job!