I love pallet wood. I had a request to make a couple of pallet wood crates for my brothers kids - this is how I made them. They are going to be used to store toys. They are easy to make and also function as a small stool (on the side).
To make these I use pallet wood, miter saw, drill, bandsaw/jigsaw, sanding paper, wood glue, nails, screws and some varnish.
The first step is to select some pallet wood (and as you can see they are in different sizes/thickness). I was going for the rustic look, so this is no problem.
Oh! There is also a small movie if you rather view the steps in motion.
Step 1: Prepare the Wood Pieces
I want to keep the rustic look of the pallet wood, but I dont want any splinters or burr. So first I use the electrical hand planer, on all sides of each piece. This cleans the most wood. Then I sand the wood pieces with a 60 grit paper. On all sides. Oh - I'm making two crates. There is a lot of pieces... I dont mind. I like pallet wood.
After the planing and sanding I cut one end of each piece (to have one straight end).
Step 2: The Sides and the Corners
I layout the pallet wood on the work table. Just to select which pieces fits togehter nicely. I hade to split some to get the right heigth on all sides.
I did the splitting on the bandsaw, but you can you use a jigsaw, tablesaw or ordinary hand saw.
The last picture is the wooden strips that I will use on the inside for the corner "joints". They only have three sides, so the inside of the crate wont have any sharp corners.
Step 3: Assembly of the Crates
I use a clamp to hold the sides togheter. Then I glue the wooden (three sides) strips on each end. I use a nailgun.
I made the wood strips by squaring strips of wood on the bandsaw. Then I tilted the band saw table to 45 degrees and ran the strips trough again. You can also buy three sided wood strips.
Also - you dont really have to use a nailgun. I just use a nailgun to speed up the process. If I didnt use nails I had to wait until the glue sets. With a nailgun I can just continue with the next process promptly. A real time saver.
After one side is done, I put on the next. The glue is on the wooden strips and not the end grain.
I check with a square to see that everything is good, before I let the glue dry over night.
Step 4: The Screw Up
After the glue is set I use a countersink and drill bit to make pilot holes on each side. Then I put in wood screws all around on each side.
Step 5: The Bottom
The bottom/floor of the crates is made of plywood. I choose plywood because of strength and future movement in the wood. Also because of the lower weight.
I put my pallet crate on top of the plywood and trace a line. Then cut with a circular saw/jigsaw. Sanding the sides before gluing the bottom to the crate.
I use a persuader (...hammer) to make the bottom fit snug. Also here I put in some wood screws to make this crate more rigid.
Step 6: Some More Sanding
I just sand all the sharp corners round with a 120 grit sandpaper.
Step 7: Handle This
I made a template in masonite, so I can copy the shape of my handle on all the sides on both crates. I measure the center and trace around the template with a pen.
Then I drill a pilot hole so that the jigsaw blade can fit and cut the handles on two sides on each crate.
Step 8: Final Steps
I go over the handles with a rasp/wooden file to make the handle smooth to the touch. These crates will be visible and a part of the room decoration, so I paint them with white stained panel varnish. This makes them bright and look nice. Also they protect the wood and also protects from splinters.
TI'm really happy with the result. They are a bit wider on purpose - the wider base makes them much harder for a toddler to tip over. They are just over 45 cm wide, so they are a perfect sitting height if they are put on a side.
They are a bit heavy, but can store a lot of toys! :-)
The kids loved them (because of the size I think) and its really easy for mom and dad to put away all the toys. Another function, that I didnt think of, was that when they were flipped over (up-side-down) they had a small table that they can play on (just happy that I choose plywood for a flat surface).
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I entered the Design for Kids Contest with this project so, if you find this simple pallet project useful, please consider giving me a vote. Thanks! :-)