DIY Wood Pallets Ideas, Tips & Projects: An Ultimate Guide

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!

Best DIY wood pallets ideas & tips on where to find free pallets, how to dismantle & use pallet wood to make furniture,  home décor, crafts, and outdoor garden projects!

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.

* Some resources in article are affiliate links. Full disclosure here .

For example, these DIY pallet wood crates inspired by vintage farm orchard crates is a great pallet project idea for beginners.

DIY pallet wood crates inspired by vintage farm orchard crates

You can also use pallet wood on an entire remodel! We transformed a rental patio into a beautiful pallet outdoor room!

transform a rental patio into a beautiful boho colorful pallet outdoor room!

( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )

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 !

how to find free pallets

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!

free wooden pallet

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.

 HT stamps on pallet wood

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!

IMPORTANT: Make sure you have a pair of thick work gloves and wear eye goggles  to protect yourself from nails that may pop out.

Dismantle wood pallet with a deck wrecker or pallet buster

Dismantle wood pallet with a deck wrecker or pallet buster: our favorite method

Since we bought our Duckbill Deck Wrecker a few years ago, there have been so many new quality pallet busters you can get now for under $50! Like this one, and this one.

Disassemble pallets with pallet buster

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.

Another method is to use a hammer and a pry bar. This method requires more work and more time than using a pallet buster. But it’s the least expensive way to start.

 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.

how to take apart a pallet using a saw

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!

using pallet wood for DIY projects

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.

 build a pallet bench
Our DIY pallet bench and coffee table.

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.

sand pallet wood

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!

oil and wax to finish pallet furniture

You can also paint pallet wood or use this whitewash wood technique to give the wood a lighter color with a farmhouse style!

whitewash pallet wood
How to whitewash wood: 3 easy ways!

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!

Easy DIY pallet crates and pallet charging station are great for organizing and de-cluttering!

Easy DIY pallet crates and pallet charging station are great for organizing and de-cluttering!

DIY  Pallet furniture, sofas and coffee tables

12 Easy Pallet sofas and coffee tables to build in one afternoon.

 transform a generic patio into a beautiful outdoor room with pallets

How we transformed a generic patio into a beautiful outdoor room with pallets! And here’s a gorgeous DIY pallet kitchen!

DIY pallet coffee table and bench

Easy DIY pallet coffee table and bench, and 30+ Pallet projects for outdoor living!

DIY pallet wood planters

DIY pallet wood planters, and 20+ other raised garden planter ideas!

Make a colorful pallet potting bench for the garden

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!

96 Comments

  1. Great ideas! Thank you so much. I just moved into a new home and am going to be using pallets for a lot of my accents. I am new to this, but I love the look (I live in the Northwoods) and lumber is way expensive. Besides, I love being creative, but need some ideas when starting out with a new craft. I was wondering where you get the stamps and decals you used in this post? I love the vintage look, they really add flair to the pieces you show here!

    • thank you Amy! if you google “vintage stamps clip art” you will see lots of great options! 🙂 the seller i got mine from is no longer active.

  2. Thanks for the tips. You made it look easy. I appreciate you sharing the importance of always wearing protective gear when working with pellets. I often would get one pellet, end up given it away, because of not having enough to make anything. Now I realize all I need to do is, pull it apart, and keep them stored until I have enough to make a nice diy project. You rock!

  3. We have been trying to build some planters using pallets. Your ideas and tips are super helpful for our DIY pallet projects!

  4. You made a good point that proper alignment is important to have when it comes to making tables out of used wooden pallets. I’d like to start making my own furniture for my newly built patio and I think buying used wooden pallets would help a lot with that. I used to take some simple carpentry classes back in the day so that might help a lot in for this project.

  5. Great tips on pallets! We just started making a few things for our home and garden with pallets, this guide has been very helpful, thank you!

  6. Hey dear, Thank you very much for sharing such a kind of excellent stuff. I am glad to have your blog. I am a fan of your blog. “The third method we have used it to cut the board along the 2 side rails with a cordless circular saw or jig saw , and use a hammer and pry bar to lift it the middle rail. This is an easy and quick method, especially when the boards already have cracks on the ends.” This method looks to me very useful. By the way, your writing style is very handly and live. I love it. Please keep posting such a kind of fantastic stuff more and more.

  7. Thank you for your tip to always wear a thick pair of work gloves when you’re picking up pallets. My brother is building a warehouse, and he’s currently looking for a supplier of hardwood pallets. I’ll pass this tip onto him the next time I see him.

  8. Hi, I need these pallets to fix our brocken home he he, by the way, I am planning to build these pallets into a frame to my koi pond is this safe to use for animals?

  9. I want to make DIY furniture for my patio. I really like how you used pallets to make a tropical outdoor room on the third picture. Thank you for sharing your pictures. I’ll contact an Industrial supply company so I can order a few pallets to make furniture for my patio.

  10. I found it interesting that you state that you should check for heat treated compared to chemical treated. My brother and his wife have been looking for new ideas for furniture and decor in their house, so I have been looking into it with them. I will send them this information, so they can start looking for used pallets, and go through some ideas.

  11. Thanks for pointing out that we should look for pallets that have been heat treated instead of chemically treated. I’d like to get some wooden pallets to use for crafting. I didn’t know there were different treatment options, so thank for sharing that info.

  12. It helped a lot when you mentioned how you should pay attention to the HP stamp when looking for pallets. It is important to understand how to find the best quality in order to get your money’s worth. We need to find a couple of pallets, so I wanted to do some research.

  13. Amazing ideas. I just loved it specially pallet playhouse & Swing sets ideas. I want to make a playhouse for my kids backyard fun. Thanks for sharing.

  14. What caught my interest here is your statement saying that not all pallets are made equal. And thanks for helping me understand that we should be aware of the HT stamp as it really means something. I’d be interested to learn more about these heated and chemically treated pallets. Looking forward to that in the future, cheers!

  15. Hi, I am from the Caribbean and i saw these amazing furniture, I did not know that you can make such beautiful things with pallets I am committed to making a few of them…..you really opened up my mind this is great, seeing that I have retired now and I can finally start some projects so that I would not become senile or bored. Thank you.

  16. Jerry and I had always wanted to build our own shed, even though we had never done anything like it before. We actually got around to doing it after we moved into our new house. Our friends couldn’t believe we’d actually done it all ourselves, and I must say, I’m really proud of it

  17. I didn’t know about the HT stamp before. I’ll have to make sure I look for that when I’m finding pallets to use for projects. I like the idea of getting pallets that aren’t chemical treated, like you suggested.

  18. I like how you suggest to make sure that you have a pair of thick work gloves and wear eye goggles to protect yourself from nails that could potentially pop out. My sister wants to use some old, recycled pallets so that she can build a custom piece for her back patio. It’s a great tip to consider safety and make sure that you’re adequately prepared to handle old pallets. Thanks for the tips.

  19. Hi I would like to make a hanging bookshelf but what do I need and do I have to measure because my room is very small and I don’thave room for a bookshelf so I was thinking of hanging one in my room for books games and movies but I don’t know how it’s just me and my mom

  20. Amazing,. You made its wonderful and easy. We just start to learning pallet project. Your project are become for many ideas for us. Once you have chance to come Bangkok, Thailand. we are welcome to meet for your share experience. Thank you.

  21. I’ve been wanting to get some pallets for my wife so she can do some projects. I’m glad you talked about how you want to make sure you’re wearing some thick gloves when you work with pallets. I’m going to have to look for a few good pallet providers, and see what I can find!

  22. I just recently made a small outdoor side table to sit near my firepit and I used my reciprocating saw to separate my pallets. It did seem a little scary at first but it worked like a charm once I got the hang of it. This was the best method for me after a failed attempt with a hammer and prybar.

  23. Hi, Ananda! I love wood working (fb.me/garypearmancraft) and have always been intrigued by the many things I see people creating with pallet wood. LOVE the crate idea…so many diff applications for those! And thanks for the tip on the deck wrecker tool. You have a great command of combining bright colors (old paletts + rental = THIS). Look forward to seeing more articles from you!

  24. This is some really good information about pallets. It is good to know that not all pallets are made equally and you should look at HT stamp. It is good to know that there is away to tell what the specifics of a pallet are.

  25. I’m fortunate enough to have a family member who has a LOT of old pallets from his business. I get them from him by the truck load. (Semi tractor load). I won’t use anything other than a sawz-all to break then down. Average about 5 minutes per pallet. After you cut them you can get the nail heads out easily with a nail set and a hammer. Just knock them out from the back side. Word of warning – cutting the nails leaves the part of the nail in the stringers so you need to be careful if you want to cut into those.

  26. i tried to do a quick pallet bar with pavers on top of it…the whole thing looked easy but its wobbly. any thoughts on how to mame it more stable? im such a rookie and was blinded by how nice and simple it looked. any advice iz appreciated.

    • hi edmun, usually when a structure is wobbly, you can fix it by adding some braces either cross ways or diagonally. look at images of simple stools or tables to get ideas! 🙂

  27. I liked that you pointed out that you should check that the HT stamp is on the pallets. It is nice to know that there is a way to tell if the pallets are chemical treated. I know that I would want that if I was going to be making furniture out of that wood.

  28. I also work with pallets and your right not every board is equal but i love the beauty of the wood once i get it sanded down. I do pyrography on the wood and some of the harder woods don’t burn evenly or i end up with a knot where i am trying to burn but it all just adds character to my pieces.

  29. I Started tearing pallets apart last year, worked very hard at it. This year I tried just using a saw zaw and if you use the right blade 1 pallet tear down takes 5 minutes. Plus leaving the nails in the boards makes it look more rustic than no nails. I apply a couple coats of sealer on my projects to seal in the nails. They are selling faster than I can make them.

  30. You might like to see the pallet wall I built: http://www.jensbarncollection.com/2016/09/25/pallet-wall/
    I used pallet strips bought new from a local pallet manufacturer, as my health isn’t up to dismantling used pallet, then stained and stencilled them using your suggestions. I have put links to a couple of your projects on my blog http://www.jensbarncollection.com and on my Pinterest page https://uk.pinterest.com/jenjensbarncoll/ – hope that’s ok, and thank you for all the tips.

  31. hello Miss Ananda,
    thanks for your insightful article.Recently started creating do -it-yourself wood projects for our home and here in regional Queensland found stores willing gave away pallets…..my wife requested all current pallets be used as in space of month, my father-in-law collected over hundred without any difficulty. So i love the variety of things it can create from pallets. Currently building four different sized raised garden beds for vegetable patch, then going to build chicken coop. previously used old trampoline but local cats and dogs have weaken the outer wire so looking for small coop design for six chickens with enclosed roost for evening.marvelous to see how creativity is finding ways to share information/inspiration through the internet.
    thanks for your efforts
    I will post pictures after projects finished on pinterest

    Kevin

  32. You forgot to mention the types of wood used to construct pallets from. There are two types of wood, hard wood and soft wood. Hardwoods are usually deciduous trees like Oak, Maple, Poplar, Cherry, Hickory and softwoods are usually coniferous like pine and cedar trees there are exceptions of course. I have found rare and exotic woods used in pallets especially on products from Mexico and South America as well as Africa. Hardwoods are much better for durability but are much harder to work with as softwoods are much softer and easier on your tools .

  33. As the manager of a store that has pallets, please remember courtesy. If you are taking some and leaving some please leave the stack as neat as you found it. I had to stop giving pallets away because they were tossed around in a mess my guys had to clean up.

  34. Hi miss Ananda,
    I’m really grateful finding this very helpful article, as a matter of fact, I’m really amazed how many things you can make with pallets, and finally finding this article is huge help. Thanks a lot, and keep inspiring people. 🙂 🙂

  35. As a retired truck driver I used to deliver to places like Home Depot, Rallies (previously a auto parts store), Walmart and Lowe’s. They would have old pallets stacked up to send back often so they have plenty of pallets. As you stayed just all nicely and I’m sure you could get their pallets for free. Sometimes you can make friends with managers at and stores and find out when their deliveries come and you can pick them up the next day. Happy hunting lol.

    • don’t bother asking home depot, they won’t part with them.
      i asked at two different ones in south nj and got the same story….’we don’t give them away’. and was even told at one ‘don’t come back trying to take them, we have cameras out back’. one employee told me their not even allowed to take home old packing cardboard boxes, ‘they have to be cut up and tightly bundled’.

      out of all the stores i checked home depot had the best quality pallets.

  36. This is a great tutorial about how to take a part pallets. Thank you for sharing!

    I am the founder of PalletPick.com, a new peer-to-peer marketplace for used pallets and items made by reclaimed pallets.

    Anyone interested in posting pallets or items made of pallets, please sign up today!

  37. Obrigada pelo fato de você passar seu conhecimento para nós. Eu amo decoração com páletes e quero fzer algumas coisas para minha casa.

  38. It is amazing how many interesting and wonderful things you can make from pallets…and you post explanation is very useful for all of us that want to start make things from pallets. Thank you.

  39. I saw this from Thistlewood. Just wanted you to know that I use the reciprocating saw (it IS a 2 man job) so my husband helps me. We can take apart a pallet in 10 minutes with this method. Zip, Zip, Zip – done!
    Hopefully you will try it out someday! The saw cuts through the nails like butter!!

    ~Jenny from RenovarDesign

  40. I just wanted to take the time to thank you sharing this information with all of us. There is so much I didn’t know about selecting these silly pallets. Now when I start making my projects, none of my time will have been wasted thanks to you! I appreciate it.
    I am so looking forward to getting busy!!
    Thanks!
    Michelle
    Nashville, TN

  41. I have a question for you. I have a pallet that I tried to take apart but it seems to be put together with a type of threaded nail. (There is no grove in the top for a screwdriver…) So I basically end up ruining the wood. 🙁 Which method above would be best to tackle this? Thanks for the great projects and tips on your site, btw 😀

    • hi kim, we have taken those apart with the deck wrecker actually. other than that, those type would be best to use the sawzall, but do be careful! or if you don’t need really long boards, to just cut along the rails with circular or jig saw. =)

    • I took apart a few pallets with a sawzall and the longest blade I could find. One meant for metal works best. Not going to say it was easy either. To be honest my pallets were a bit warped and turned out to be more effort than they were worth. I think finding pallets that are in decent shape is the biggest key in this. I tried the pry bar, but the wood cracked and broke many times before I switched to the sawzall. Those twisted nails are no joke!

      • I find the the best way is to get a precipitating saw with long blade. It leaves the nail heads in but it looks good!!

    • Those nails are twisted, have a barb and glue. Use a sawsall to cut the side rails out then the duckbill or hammer & crowbar to get them off the center.

  42. Hi Ananda! I am so thrilled to have found your blog! I always wanted to make something with pallet wood, and you just gave me the perfect guide and inspirational projects to start! Thank you so much!

    • IPallaetss often mader of recycle (thin hatdwood boards) woth old nails, cut off; invisible except shine end if cut off nail, flush with surface ( how do they do thar? look for them with relected light, lse destroy your circular saw blades.

      • I own a mobile home and have1 wall that I would love to make into an accent wall. Could I sand the surface of the paneling on the picture wall and white wash it.do you think it would work.it’s only a 1\2. Off a wall and I think if it would work, would look as mazing

    • Does it help to dismantle a pallet if it’s wet?
      It seems the dry weather causes the boards to crack and warp.

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