Pallet Chest




After reading a few instructables I decided to build something from pallets. Inspired by thesetwo projects, I decided to build a chest. This was my second project ever (first one was the coffee table that can be seen in the first image) so there is definitely room for improvement.

My goal was to use as much recycled (and more importantly free) materials. Unfortunately, varnish came surprisingly expensive to me but I got some on a discount when the local hardware shop changed owners. Apart from that I also had to buy vermin treatment, screws and the primer and coating for the fittings. The fittings themselves are from the streets.

This is my first post on this site so I hope I'm doing this right ;)

I am also sorry for the quality of the pictures, I documented everything with my cellphone...

Step 1: Collecting the Pallets

First I got a bunch of one way pallets, later a few EUR-pallets. Originally I thought the EUR-pallets would be a better source of wood because they are supposed to be more durable and standardized. But as it turns out, the bottom boards have rounded edges (visible on the 4th image). Most of the wood for the chest came from the non-EUR-pallets (the EUR-pallets were used for the table). However, the wood from the EUR-pallets was definitely of better quality. The other wood was often bent and twisted...

Picture 5 is all the wood I got from the pallets, picture 6 is what's left after building the table.

Step 2: Plan

The actual design was done by hand but I don't have the sketches anymore. However, I also made a model in SketchUp, mainly to try out the program and because I couldn't continue work because our basement was flooded. Luckily, all the wood I was planning to use was on the table and the water didn't reach that high (you can see it on the wall). But at least there was much more room afterwards :D

The chest turned out pretty much as planned, I just had to use different boards in a few places because I ran out of wood.

The lid is the only part that used EUR-pallets. They are the boards that hold together the upper layer of the pallet (or cut to that length) which determined the width of the chest ( = depth of the EUR pallet)

Also the boards that hold the lid together are missing in the model. I attached them underneath the lid.

I added a picture of the model with dimensions. I went a little overboard because the tool is fun to use :D I removed the lower front part of the frame for better view.

The main dimensions are w x h x d = 80cm x 37cm x 41cm. The boards for the frame are all of the same kind, approximately 91mm x 21mm.

The lid was basically what I based the dimensions (width and depth) on. I was kind of lucky that I had the four boards for the bottom that came out to be the same depth together with the frame. Otherwise I would have had to cut them lengthwise to fit. I was again lucky that the boards I used for the front and back wall fit pretty good so I didn't have to adjust them. There is a little room at one of the corners but it is covered by the frame.

I also added the SketchUp Model file. I never really used software like this so I just took the first thing that popped up on google. Recommendations are welcome!

Step 3: Tools

These were pretty much all the tools I used. Not in this picture: primer and lacquer sprays I used for the fittings.

Step 4: Cut, Sand, Treat Against Vermin

The sanding was mostly fine except the boards for the side walls had a very uneven surface. I didn't really need them to be perfectly smooth but I wanted to clean out the dirt so I bought a set of brushes. I didn't take pictures during the progress but you can still see it inside the finished chest.

The first image shows all the wood that was going to be used (about 4 or 5 boards were left over in the end). I only had enough surface area to lay out about half of the wood at a time so it took pretty long to treat everything from both sides twice...

Step 5: Putting It Together to See If It Fits and Doing Some Adjustments

Stacked the wood together to get an idea of the final product. I had to adjust the boards for the side wall. At that point I got the saw which definitely would have been useful before but oh well...

Step 6: Varnish

Like the vermin treatment, this was a lengthy process because I applied 2 coats of varnish and one coat of finish. That meant I had to do it in 12 steps...

Step 7: Putting It All Together

Originally I wanted to assemble the frame and then add the walls but the wood was too bent and twisted. I couldn't glue together the upper frame and didn't want to use screws because they would be visible from outside. So I put in the side walls first and attached the upper part of the frame to them.

I was really worried that it wouldn't be straight enough in the end but the lid fit perfectly!

Step 8: Attach Fittings

So far I only added the hinges. I don't really know where to apply the handles because it just doesn't look right. Also I don't have a nice looking lock yet.

I got the fittings from stuff in the streets (in my town there is "Sperrmüll" once a month where you can put old furniture out and it gets picked up by the city. Always a great way to find stuff. Also after the flood basically everyone in the whole city emptied out there basement so there were unbelievable amounts of old stuff lying around.) The only picture I have of them is from the priming. I would have liked larger/nicer hinges but these were the best ones I found.

Step 9: Done

I was really surprised how well it turned out considering the mediocre quality of the wood and my limited skills and tools. I just hope it doesn't come apart after a while due to tensions.

First Time Author Challenge

Participated in the
First Time Author Challenge

Wood Contest

Participated in the
Wood Contest



    • Sensors Contest

      Sensors Contest
    • Fandom Contest

      Fandom Contest
    • Frozen Treats Challenge

      Frozen Treats Challenge

    18 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Since your chest is is made from pallets for a rustic look maybe you could use rope handles on the ends instead of the metal ones. Very nice project by the way.


    4 years ago on Step 9

    Nice Work :)

    To be honest i never considered treating the wood for vermin (bugs etc) but as i intend to make inside furniture shelving etc that is going to matter.

    Very nicely done! And I'm a big fan of anything free. I have to look into getting some of these pallets myself, if I can find a source nearby. And convince someone to drive me there to pick them up. Or I could just wait a day and tie a rope around them and pull them home like a sled. (expecting it to start snowing here any minute)

    Voting for you in both contests. =)

    2 replies

    LOL :) Actually, the snow never came. They've been warning us for three days but nothing yet. (knock wood)

    I will keep the sled idea in mind though.


    4 years ago on Introduction

    That's one reason things are getting more expensive.

    Taking care to improve the quality of the wood in a pallet. Who cares if there is a twist in a pallet slat. It's only a platform for shipping an item.

    Oh well, that's the way things are going.

    Granted, though, some of the "US" pallets I've used have been a little low on quality.

    But enough of my rantings.

    For your second wood project, you have done a very good job!

    You've got my vote


    4 years ago on Introduction

    Great job indeed! I'm in need of just such a chest, but -l-o-n-g-e-r-, so I will end-glue a nice "pattern" in the top (lid). I have a "biscuit" cutter, so I'm pretty sure I can get the strength I want, simply by staggering the joints. Thanks!

    Considering "lining" it with aromatic Cedar... but they cost a LOT!


    4 years ago

    good instructable, I just finished a very similar one recently. Was a great project and not too hard.

    1 reply

    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    If you haven't yet, you should enter this into the Wood contest, and the First time author contest!


    4 years ago

    Nice job! One of the best pallet projects I've seen... most look like... well scrap wood, yours actually looks good :-)

    1 reply

    4 years ago

    Any chance of getting the dimensions ?

    1 reply