Introduction: Fruit Basket From Pallet Wood

About: Find more of what I do on my homepage - but no matter where you go, remember to Be Inspired!

Need a place to store your fruits and vegetables? All you need is some pallet wood! And watch my video. It has rolling produce in it... Well, actually, here is what you need:


  • Pallet wood. Kinda obvious. A word on that, though - I know there are ways out there to take a pallet apart completely, leaving you with longer boards. The ones I use are from a pallet that would not come apart like that - the boards shattered before the nails would give. So I took a circular to it and cut out the smaller sections you can see in the next steps.
  • Wood glue. This should not be that surprising. I used waterproof glue, but I do not think that the moisture from rinsed fruit would actually endanger the integrity of the thing.


  • A table saw works best, but you might get away with a bandsaw or, with some imagination, a jigsaw or circular saw. But I still recommend the table saw.
  • I also used a mitre saw for a very steep angled cut, but if you have the panach for it you might get the same result from a table saw, jigsaw, hand saw... You get the picture.
  • A jointer can come in handy to flatten the first side of the pieces. I have seen pallet boards that came flat off the pallet and would work fine without it, though. A hand plane might wirk as well if you are so inclined and proficient.
  • Clamps. Seriously, how can one work wood without clamps? Well, okay, a brad nailer might do the trick.

Step 1: Interlude: Count Your Blessings - and Fingers!

That the table saw is a versatile tool is probably common knowledge among all those who have used one for at least a little while. Same goes for your hands and fingers, and I will venture a guess that most of us have used their digits far longer than they have any kind of power tool. With that said, some of the cuts made in this project are pretty dangerous if you were to attempt to do them with your bare hands - and even one of those flimsy plastic push sticks that sometimes comes with these saws would be hard pressed not to be a liability rather than actual help.

While there are some "better" push solutions on the market (not saying that they are better, just less cheap), you can see here what I am using. It is a piece of thick board (although you could laminate two layers together) and modelled after something that Jay Bates over at showed in one of his videos. The angled faces and the hole make for easy holding, and the size keeps your hands above the danger zone (unless you actually try to stain your project red, that is).

The most important feature, though, is a small piece of scrap screwed to the back (with the screws set high enough that the blade is unlikely to ever catch them). This acts as a catch that allows you to push stuff through the blade - as the name implies. And since both that catchpiece as well as the sole of the main body are sacrificial, you can do tricky cuts with ease - and replace and refurbish your push behemoth whenever the cuts you have made have worn away too much material.

Why I have mine painted like that? Well, before I flattened the sole, it also had teeth, and looked much like a velociraptor that tried to gnaw its way through the table. Who said safety could not look cool...

Step 2: Preparing the Stock - 1st Face

This project is designed to use a large number of equally sized pieces, small slats if you will. In order to get those out of the boards, I need to "treat" all the four faces.

For the first face, I run the pieces through or rather over my jointer, but like I said, this step might be obsolete if you have sufficiently flat pieces, bad hand plane skills - or no jointer. Since I have (a cheap) one, I give it several passes to flatten and clean up one face each.

On a side not, yes, with a planer you could do the other side as well, but I felt that these pieces are too short to safely put through the planer (not to mention severe snipe, which is the cutter almost always digging deeper into the wood that it should towards the ends of the board). And as you will see, it does not make much of a difference anyway.

Step 3: Preparing the Stock - 2nd Face

Like I said, the treatment for the remaining three pieces of the slats we want is pretty similar, so once you get the hang of it it is pretty simple. For this, I will be using my table saw.

To clean up the second face, I set the fence of my saw so just a little under the width of my boards. This way, the sawblade will take away just a little bit of wood - not actually cutting off anything, i.e. less than the kerf width - to make for a clean face.

Yes, I know - a "natural" face is running against the fence (natural in respect to free-roaming pallets everywhere) and might cause problems if it is bowed. If it was cupped (i.e. concave, both ends touching the fence) it would still go through straight since the piece should be short enough so that both ends are in contact with the fence before the wood hits the blade. If you do have a bow you should check the opposit face - if you have a cup there, then just use that side for this step.

And if you happen to have a piece that is bowed on both sides... Well, it is a widely recognized technique to run the piece through anyway and hope for a straight cut. You might get lucky, and it it turns out bowed you have not lost anything.

Step 4: Preparuing the Stock - 3rd Face

The third face automatically "happens" when I cut the boards into small slats. I set the fence to a position that would produce cutoffs of pleasing and arbitraty size. With the side flattened in the previous step running against the fence, I cut up all my boards into slats as far as they will go - let me once again emphasize how great of an idea it is to use a proper push stick or shoe. At least the one I introduced you to in Step 2 will allow you to take these boards apart up to the last piece.

Step 5: Preparing the Stock - 4th Face

All that is left to finish up the stock preparation is to clean up the one remaining small face, which I now accomplish by once again using the table saw with the fence set to slightly less than the width of the piece. And once again a push item as described before is a real finger saver.

If you still think you can do this by hand - what use are nerves of steel when you get to admire them sticking out from a severed finger? Just saying...

Step 6: Finishing Up the Stock

Yes, I realize that there is actually a 5th and even a 6th side to any cube-like body. To account for those I use my table saw sled, but a mitre saw would work as well, with a stop block to help with getting them to equal length..

I first true up one side, and as you can see I use what I had on hand to hold the batch down. To do the other side you need to align the ends so the cut yields equal pieces (or use a stop block).

Step 7: Board Stretching 101

To make a fruit basket of the size that I envisioned I needed a few longer pieces. You could get away with simply gluing them together with an overlap, but I decided to do it slightly more elegant - and complicated.

Simply put, I cut two slats at an angle and glued them together to form a longer slat of the same dimensions (except, of course, for the length).

In order to provide the joint with more strength, i.e. more surface for the glue, I made the cut at a very acute angle. To do that, I clamped a piece of beam to my mitre saw to make an auxiliary fence. A good fit, the perfect alignment with the saw blade, is achieved by actually cutting the beam off with the mitre saw itself.

Next I set the saw's angle to an angle that looked right - as you can see in the pictures - and did the cut with care not to get my fingers anywhere near the blade. You could use a piece of scrap to hold the slat down if you felt so inclined. Each long slat requires two short ones cut like this.

Step 8: Board Stretching 102

Gluing these pieces together is about as straight-forward as the angles imply - meaning not that much. If you do multiples - you will need multiples for this project, after all - gluing them im bulk will allow you to clamp them with a single clamp. Here, friction will keep the pieces from sliding around on you, once you get them aligned properly.

As an aside, and only because I glued the first one separately, there is a simply way to facilitate a good clamping experience for a single pair of short slats. As you can see in the second picture, the trick is to use the cutoffs to create clamping faces that are parallel to the glue line.

Step 9: First Floor: Vitamins and Bright Colors

Finally it is time to put all the pieces together. This is mainly be done by eye and spacer, so the first step is to put two long slats on your working surface. I used my table saw - again - as the working surface in order to utilize the fence as a reference to keep things properly angled (which is to say use a square on the two long ones).

I free-handed a lot of this and made it up as I went along, but here is what I did. First, I put a slat against the fence as a spacer for the intended vertical support, then I placed and actually glued the first flat one in place. From there, I first did a mock-up to test two different options - the wide and the small width of the slats as spacers.

I had decided in advance that I wanted to put the slats down flat as opposed to on their small side, because doing so would have taken up more wood than I had set aside for this but also yielded something that would not give me as much space to store fruit. It would not look good, either.

I decided to go with the wider option, the flat slat as spacer, and continued gluing them in place. On the second picture you can see a trick that I used after I glued all required pieces onto one of the support struts. Actually, this would not be necessary if you glue them to both supports right away, but I did not do that because I thought that with double the amount of glue spots it would be twice as hard to keep things aligned.

So for the second support, I placed it where it was supposed to go, but moved it one slat-width to the left. Then I applied glue on all the visible spots, lifted the rest of the floor up slightly and slid the support in place - this way, there was glue underneath every slat.

Step 10: Second Floor: Proteins and Feelings of Happiness

The second floor, i.e. the raised one, was supposed to be slightly shorter than the first, so id does not hinder access to the one below too much. I also used the first floor as a reference, with long slats in the spaces of it to give me a reference to place the new pieces.

I did not place the long slats much closer together, though, since the idea was to use this floor upside down - with the support slats serving as border pieces. As you can see in the second image, I had to use the cut-offs with their "uncleaned" surface on the bottom since I was running out of wood after all.

And in the spirit of full disclosure, somewhere I went wrong and in the end the middle slat on the top floor turned out ever so slightly off. After some deliberation I decided that I could live with that.

Step 11: Squaring Things Off

When gluing things up, I did not take care to align the slats any more than by eye, so the result was neither straight nor orderly. To remedy that I once again used by table saw, but I could not run it directly against the fence since the slats were out of whack on both sides.

Here I used a piece of scrap that would provide an additional fence against which the long support piece would ride - the scrap had to be wider than the longest protruding slat for that to work. If that did not make any sense, check out my video. To do the opposit side I did not need the scrap anymore since the ends were now equal, but I used it anyway so it would not feel unwanted.

I did that for both floors, cutting the upper one closer to the long slats to make it a little smaller.

Step 12: Stacking Design Choices

I started the vertical part of the assembly with a slat at each back corner of the first floor. With the support and the outside horizontal slat as reference faces, there is really not much I could do about its alignment, but it turned out to be pretty much okay. Like I said before, I used waterproof glue (the one that, at least around here, comes with blue on the bottles) and clamped it to whichever face was convenient since doing both got a little tedious. If you can clamp both then go for it!

Initially, I wanted to add another pair of vertical pieces to the front corners of the first floor, but after I clamped the top floor in place (using a spacer you can admire in the video), I did not really like how it looked. So in the spirit of "inprovisation as way" I played around with it until I came upon the design as seen in the third image - with the slats slanted backwards (at least when seen from the second floor) to provide support to the front while leaving more room to the sides.

Step 13: Finishing Up

I did add a few more slats to keep produce from falling down the bacl and sides of the upper floor, not only to improve the design but also because I still had some left over. You can add as few or as many as you want, and adapt the fruit basket to your needs, maybe taking into consideration where it is going to take up residence.

Thanks for reading this Instructable. Let me know if you make something like this yourself, and share it with the rest of us! I would also ask you to vote for me in this year's pallet contest, if you feel so inclined and the option is still available at the time you are reading this. You might also want to check out my YouTube Channel for projects that do not make it here.

Thanks again, and remember to be Inspired!

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