Best DIY wood pallets ideas & tips on where to find free pallets, how to dismantle & use pallet wood to make furniture & home decor projects!
Wood pallets are some of our favorite DIY materials and I can’t wait to share all the tips, secrets, and creative ideas we have learned making things with pallets!
In this epic guide on DIY wood pallets ideas, we will look at where to find free wooden pallets, how to select & disassemble pallets, best pro tips on using pallets, & our favorite pallet project ideas!
We have made many projects using pallets, from simple home decor to an entire patio with furniture.
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For example, these DIY pallet wood crates inspired by vintage farm orchard crates is a great pallet project idea for beginners.
You can also use pallet wood on an entire remodel! We transformed a rental patio into a beautiful pallet outdoor room!
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1. Where can I find free pallets? And tips on selecting wood pallets.
First, make sure you have a pair of thick work gloves handy when picking up pallets to avoid lots of splinters !
Here are some of our favorite places to find clean pallets in good conditions – tile and stone showrooms, masonry supply stores (aka places that sell boulders, rocks, pavers etc), construction sites, and wood / carpet flooring stores. We also see them behind wine shops and grocery stores.
Garden nurseries often have pallets too. Just make sure they look clean and have no signs of sprays!
When you see a stack of pallets outside these places, just ask nicely whether they plan to reuse them or just discard them. And the answer we get every time is ” You want them? They are all yours!” Yay! Not so hard, right?
IMPORTANT TIP: What to look for when selecting wooden pallets?
Not all wood pallets are made equal. First thing to look for is the HT stamp, which means the pallets are heat treated vs chemical treated. Thankfully, most of the pallets we have seen are HT pallets.
Next, look closely at the wood boards – are they cracked, or warped? If yes, they would be very challenging to work with, so don’t waste all that time and sweat dragging it home. There are better ones!
Also pay attention and check if anything has spilled on them. If it looks contaminated, move on!
2. How to dismantle a wood pallet?
There are many ways to disassemble a pallet. Let’s look at 3 most efficient methods, 2 of which do not need power tools!
Dismantle wood pallet with a deck wrecker or pallet buster: our favorite method
This tool lifts pallet boards easily, and you can take out the nails with a hammer. It is 20 times quicker than any other methods. The wood won’t split as much so you get better boards. We absolutely LOVE this tool. If you plan to do a lot of pallet projects, it is really worth it! See video tutorial below:
How to disassemble a wooden pallet with a hammer and a pry bar.
Actually, I could not do this myself -don’t have enough muscle! 🙂 Below is a YouTube video tutorial:
How to take apart a pallet using a saw.
We have used this method to cut all the boards along the 2 side rails with a cordless circular saw or jig saw ( here’s a low cost jig saw which gets great reviews) and use a hammer and pry bar to lift each board from the middle rail. This is an easy and quick method, especially when the boards have lots of nails, screws, or cracks on the ends.
3. Pros and cons of using pallet wood for DIY projects
When you buy wood from hardware stores, they are finished to the specified thickness, and all the edges are straight, and squared, but NOT pallet wood! The beauty, and the challenges of pallet wood lies in its variations. Never assume the pallet wood boards are the same thickness or width, even if they are from the same pallet!
When making projects with pallet wood, one of the first things to consider is where it needs to be accurate vs where it’s more forgiving and you can keep the rustic character.
For example: if we want to build a pallet bench with a flat top, we need to carefully select boards of same thickness.
If you use a planer to plane the pallet wood boards, make sure to use a metal detector first! Some hidden old nails can ruin the blade of your planer.
How to finish pallet wood? A simple method we like is using 120 grit sand paper to make sure the wood is free of splinters, and still keep the rustic character of the wood surface.
If you want to leave the wood natural, you can use butcher block oil finishes or outdoor wax finishes to protect the wood from stains and UV. Here’s our recipe for an easy and great butcher block oil finish!
You can also paint pallet wood or use this whitewash wood technique to give the wood a lighter color with a farmhouse style!
Pallet project ideas
You can make so many things with pallet wood for your home and garden! Below are some great pallet project ideas and tutorials from simple pallet furniture, home decor, garden and outdoor projects, to an entire pallet kitchen. Enjoy!
Make a colorful pallet potting bench for your garden.
Most important tip: safety first when building with pallets!
Because of those nails and splinters, please ALWAYS wear gloves and eye goggles when working with pallet wood!
Before you turn on any power tools, first get a sturdy work surface – a work bench, or even a sturdy old table will do, and some wood clamps! Properly clamp the wood while cutting. Always follow safety guidelines on each tool you use!
That’s it for now! Be safe and have lots of fun creating with pallets!