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. Pallet planks are good quality lumber for durability reasons, and they come from all over the world with such unique beauty!
In this epic guide on DIY wood pallets ideas, I will share all the tips, secrets, and creative ideas we have learned making things with pallets, such as 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 we love using pallets, from simple home decor to an entire patio with furniture. For example, these DIY pallet wood crates inspired by vintage farm orchard crates is a great pallet project idea for beginners.
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You can also use pallet wood on an entire remodel! How we transformed a rental patio into a beautiful pallet outdoor room!
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 wooden pallets to avoid lots of splinters !
Here are some of our favorite places to find clean pallets in good conditions – garden nurseries, 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.
Ask nicely whether they plan to reuse them or just discard them. Very often, the answer 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, take a quick look to make sure the pallets look clean, have no signs of spray, spill or mold on them, and have few splits in the boards. Some dust is totally normal, which you can clean easily with soapy water.
Next thing to look for is the HT stamp, which means the pallets are heat treated by steam or in the kiln, vs chemical treated. Thankfully, most of the pallets we have seen are HT stamped 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!
Some fun facts about the HT stamps: they tell you where the wood is coming from originally! We often find pine, walnut and oak wood from US, and really nice hardwoods from many parts of Europe and Mexico. You can’t even find all these types of wood at Home Depot or the lumber stores, how exciting! 🙂
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 pallet planks for your woodworking projects. 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 pallet wood planks have lots of nails, screws, or cracks on the ends.
3. Pros and cons of using pallet wood for DIY projects
Most of the time the pallet wood planks and the 2x4s that the planks are nailed to are dense hardwoods. But sometimes the planks are made of softwood species, which are easier to cut, but may not be as durable if used for structural purposes such as a table leg.
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!
Pallets can be transformed into furniture for your home with minimal work! Try these 12 Easy Pallet sofas and coffee tables to build in one afternoon.
Pallets are great materials to build outdoor projects such as patio furniture, porch swings, compost bins, and raised beds! Check out these easy DIY pallet coffee table and bench, and 30+ Pallet projects for outdoor living!
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!