Pallet wood projects

Lately I’ve been having fun building things from reclaimed and scrap wood. Here are a couple of my recent pallet wood projects, at home on our front porch:

I love woodworking, but I don’t spend a lot of money on my hobbies.  Pallet wood saves me from buying lumber at Home Depot, or even worse, forking over the money to buy good hardwood boards. Pallets appeal to me in other ways, too: I like knowing that I’m saving a little bit of waste from a landfill, and I like the perspective that I gain from having to sand, straighten, and clean up the rough wood. I’ve also found that it’s satisfying to make-do with irregular sized boards. Rather than just buying the correct amount of stock-sized lumber off the shelf, I force myself to work with the boards I have, and make adjustments to my plans.  That really makes me think through my design carefully, and be more creative in improvising on it.

My first and biggest challenge was figuring out how to take pallets apart. They’re held together with spiral-shank nails, making the boards nearly impossible to pry loose. I started out by trying brute force, but that was frustrating because I wound up splitting so many of the boards. After scouring the internet for tips & doing a bit of experimenting, I’ve settled on a quick & reliable technique. I drill a small hole next to each nail, which relieves the pressure and makes it fairly easy to pry the boards loose with a flatbar & hammer.

I’m busy at work on a couple of current projects with pallets and with other scrap boards.  I’ll share these, with more detailed instructions & tips, in a few upcoming posts.  If you find them useful, or have tips of your own, I would love to hear from you in the comments.