Introduction: Make a Blanket Box From Pallets
This is how I made a blanket box for my mother-in-law. You'll need a few pallets for it, but the construction is really simple and strong, and you'll earn major credits if you give it to someone!
A video is available at the end of the Instructable, should you like that sort of thing.
You will require the following materials:
Pallets - how many will depend on their size and condition, and the size you make the box. I used three I think.
Contrasting wood for patching nail holes, etc.
Saw (You can get by with just a combination hand saw, but a chop saw and table saw will speed things up)
Hand plane (A thicknesser will save a lot of sweat!)
Sander (A sanding block and sand paper will do)
Biscuit joiner or doweling jig - Either of these will make alignment easier when gluing up panels.
Chisel, gimlet/drill, and screwdriver - If you want to install hinges.
Step 1: Material Preperation
Dismantle your pallets:
There are loads of methods for this available online, so I'm not going into detail here. I use a couple of folding wedges, shims, and a hammer, to force the slats off the bearers.
Select the slats you want to use for the lid, front, back, and two sides, and then from what's left for the base. Also select a few good bearers from which to cut the corner posts and base supports. If your pallets don't have long bearers, you can simply glue slats face to face in pairs to make thick enough stock.
Now clean all the slats and bearers by either passing through a thicknesser, as shown, or by sanding. Ideally, all your slats should end up the same thickness and width, as this makes assembly much easier, so take your time on this step.
Step 2: Cut Panel Pieces to Length
Front and Back Panels:
Cut alternate slats long and short - this will result in staggered ends, and forms the basis of a finger joint. The length of the short slats should equal the internal box dimension, and the difference in length between long and short should be a fraction over twice the slat thickness.
The slats for the lid should be cut to the same length as the long slats of the front and back.
Once again, cut alternate slats long and short, to form the other side of a finger joints.
The slats for the base should all be cut a fraction shorter than the short slats of the front and back.
How many of each of these pieces you need will depend entirely on the the size you wish to make your box. But don't worry, if you end up needing more, just grab another pallet!
Step 3: Glue the Front, Back, Lid, and Base
If you have access to a biscuit joiner, doweling jig, or similar, then it's worth spending a few minutes to install these handy alignment aids (remember to stagger the slats of the front and back as you do this!
The two important things when gluing these panels are that they should be clamped flat, and that the slats of the front and back panels are staggered to create the finger joint.
Use an off-cut to stagger the slats correctly on the front and back panels.
To keep the panels flat while the glue dries, either use panel clamps (like I have in the picture), clamping cauls clamped across the surface, or rest the panel on a flat surface and apply weights to it (use plastic, etc. to avoid it sticking to the surface or weights).
If you wish to hinge the lid, then don't glue the rear most slat on.
Step 4: Glue the Sides
Use the glued up front and back panels as a jig to hold the slats of the side panels.
If all your slats were the same width, then the side panels should come together straight away, but a shaving or two may need to be taken off for a perfect fit.
Glue the slats together to make the two sides, but avoid gluing them to the front and back panels. I glue them up jigged in the front finger joint, and then clamp them and pull the finger joint apart.
Step 5: Sand the Panels
Once all the panels are fully cured, they need to be sanded. This removes any excess glue and prepares them for a finish.
Step 6: Make Corner Posts and Base Supports
Rip the bearers down into approximately 1"x1"s, and cut to length, to fit as corner posts and base supports.
The corner posts should be the as long as the box is high, and the base supports should be long enough to fit between the installed corner posts, all around.
All these pieces should be sanded, and any sharp edges and corners rounded over and smoothed.
Step 7: Main Assembly
Now you can glue the front, back, sides, and corner posts together.
Apply glue to the four finger joints and assemble them, checking for square.
Then apply glue to two faces of each corner post in turn, and attach them in the four corners. I drop the corner posts about 1/4" to act as feet.
Finally, glue the base supports around the bottom of the inside surfaces.
Step 8: The Lid
For a lift off lid:
Glue on four small locating 'buttons' to the under-side of the lid, which align with the internal corners of the box.
Optionally, cut out a hole in the lid to use as a finger pull.
For a hinged lid:
Glue the rear slat of the lid in place. Add a full length, full width, glue block, made from a pallet bearer, which will stiffen the slat up considerably, and give more room for the hinge.
Glue an additional slat to the under-side, at the rear of the opening lid, to stiffen it and make room for the hinge. This extra slat should be held short at each end, so that it can enter the box as the lid closes.
Mark the position of each hinge, chop a mortise to fit, drill pilot holes for the screws, and screw the hinges in position.
For a pull, you can carve a beveled mouth opening, as shown.
Step 9: Finishing Touches
I chose to inlay patches, and plugs, to fill nail holes and other defects in the pallet wood.
Then, after a good sand, a couple of coats of a wiping varnish should transform the box into an heirloom.
Thanks for stopping by - I hope you enjoyed my Instructable.
You can watch a video of me building this very blanket box here:
7 years ago
I LOVE reclaimed wood! This is a great use for it :)