Introduction: Pallet Garden Trellis

This instructable discusses how to create a garden trellis made of pallet wood. When I was visiting my parents in Western Maryland, I noticed the short trellises they had in small planter boxes. They said they bought them at an Amish auction and that those trellises were designed to be placed in five gallon bucket planters. Since I have some cucumbers and butternut squash going wild, I figured I could scale up that design.

To make the trellis, you will need the following items:

  1. A pallet
  2. A table saw
  3. A reciprocating saw
  4. Screws or nails
  5. Safety goggles.

Before you begin, please read this instructable, How to Determine if your Pallet is Safe for Use.

Step 1: Dismantle Pallets

You will find several Instructables that explain how to dismantle pallets to harvest the wood. When I dismantle pallets, I prefer to use a reciprocating saw with an extra thick demolition-grade blade either ten or twelve inches long. The longer blade is useful for working in between the boards and offers more leverage than a shorter blade. Pulling pallets apart with a pry bar can be tricky because the wood is often brittle and can easily splinter.

After I dismantle the pallets, I sort the wood for various projects.

Step 2: Prepare the Boards

For the trellis, use the center boards, the ones that are about the same size as 2x4 lumber.

I use my table saw to rip the boards to a 1 1/2 inch thickness.

It is important to be safe when ripping pallet boards. Since nails might be imbedded in the wood, be sure to wear safety goggles in case a nail shoots out. Stand to one side of the saw just in case it hits a nail and kicks the board back.

The shortest board I harvested from a pallet was 36 inches, so I cut them all to 36 inches.

Ripping the boards will create square pieces and funny-shaped pieces. Both sides are usable. Use the square sides for the uprights and the funny-shaped sides for the horizontal strips.

On a sheet of plywood, I marked a 20-inch square that I will use for a template. The feet of the trellis will be spaced 20 inches apart.

Step 3: Shape the Uprights

To shape the uprights, I placed the feet on my template and then placed the top of the boards at a desirable angle. The angle was only my preference, so it is based on whimsy.

The bottom bar is twelve inches from the bottom of the upright. To meet my desired angle, I cut the bottoms at 10 1/2 inches. The top horizontal bar is about 4 1/2 inches from the top, so I cut those to meet my angle.

I did not pre drill my screw holes, but I should have done so to prevent cracking the pallet wood, which is often semi hard and brittle. I suggest pre-drilling holes for screws and hand-hammered nails.

I used the funny shaped boards for the horizontal bars. As shown in the image above, I cut some of the funny shapes off on my chop saw. It would have been a good idea to rip those boards, too.

I only put one screw in each joint. That will allow me to reshape the trellis int he final step.

Step 4: Assemble the Uprights

After shaping the uprights, attach horizontal boards to form the pyramid shape. Since there is only one screw in each joint, the angle of the uprights can be adjusted.
When I screwed the final pieces on, I did not take extra measures to ensure each side was angled exactly the same. I just eyeballed the dimensions because the plants might like a dip here and there. After attaching the upper and lower pieces, I added middle pieces.

You can add as many horizontal bars as you wish. You could add chicken wire or netting, as well, though I prefer to tie my plants.

Step 5: Place in Garden

A finished trellis in the garden, ready for squash.

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