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How to Choose & Find the Best Pallets for DIY Projects

wooden pallets

Wood isn’t cheap.

Recycling is good to do.

Pallets are often free (if you know where to find them – see below) – and using them eliminates them from joining a landfill.

Besides, what could be more fulfilling and fun than using free materials to create something useful and beautiful? Shipping pallets are one of the best free wood-options available (hence the hugely growing trend of pallet DIY projects).

Related: Pallet Bed Ideas | Pallet Coffee Table Ideas | Pallet Couch Ideas | Beautiful Pallet Wine Rack

Where to find pallets

If you work at a place that receives pallets as part of shipments, talk to your supervisor about using them.

Talk to local companies that receive pallets and ask if you can use them.

Other types of businesses that receive more pallets than they know what do with them are supermarkets, office buildings (talk to the manager), furniture stores and restaurants.

Check Craigslist for people giving away pallets.

If you’ve bought an item that came on a pallet, keep it for future use.

Your best bet is to seek out local companies (dry-good warehouses and manufacturing companies are best) and just ask them if you can haul some pallets away.

How to choose the best pallet for wood working projects

Not all pallets are created equal. Here’s a brief primer on choosing the best pallets.

1. Pallets are made from a variety of types of wood – look for pallets comprised of the look and feel you want for your project.

2. Don’t expect perfect wood. Pallet wood is cheaper wood. Also it’s often damaged and it may become more damaged when taking it apart.

3. Hopefully you discover a source of many pallets to choose from – if you do, take time to look for the least damaged ones. Look for new pallets.

4. Size:  48″ x 35″ is good.

5. Materials:  3 notched 2′ x 4’s connected by 3/4″ inch nominal boards.

6. Heat treated are best. Look for a “HT” marked on the pallet and constructed with spiral nails.

7. Avoid pesticide-treated pallets. Look for ISPM 15 certified pallets – this means they are heat treated (HT) or fumigated with Methyl Bromide (MB). HT pallets are best.


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