Pallet Projects for the Home and Garden

Use basic tools and construction knowledge to discover new uses for old pallets. These seven simple designs are no-frill and downright beautiful.

| November/December 2017

While wooden pallets are free and readily available, upcycling them into home and garden projects can come at a price. The process of breaking down a 40-by-48-inch pallet (the most common size in the United States) into usable wood is time-consuming and requires strength, a high thres-hold for frustration, and sometimes pain.

If you appreciate the idea of an inexpensive pallet project but want to avoid smashed and gashed fingers, we’ve got some great ideas for you. These no-saw or low-saw pallet concepts are doable by anyone with a few hand tools and minimal building skills. After a few hours of enjoyable labor, you can have a useful fixture for your home or garden that you’ve built yourself from recycled materials.

When you’re on the hunt, look for wood that’s dry, straight, and in solid condition. Make sure to use pallets stamped “HT,” which means they’ve been treated with heat rather than with chemicals. Some pallets have forklift openings on all four sides, while others are only open on two sides — so consider which type will be best for your project. For more advice on selecting pallets, see “Wood Pallet Project Ideas.”

Deborah’s storage and recycling center

Tools and materials: bolts, 4-by-4s, coat rack or hooks, recycling bins.

When Mother Earth News Facebook follower Deborah Piotrowski moved to a Tennessee ranch, she realized that country living didn’t include curbside recycling. To organize waste for transport to a recycling center in town, Piotrowski and her sister designed this recycling center. Piotrowski crafted the upper section by bolting together two pallets side by side. These vertical pallets rest on the back edges of two horizontal pallets, which were also bolted together side by side. The horizontal pallets are supported by 4-by-4 legs, and the upper section is secured to the garage wall for stability. An old coatrack screwed to the center of the upper section provides a place to hang outdoor clothing, while the horizontal pallets offer a place to sit and pull off work boots. Labeled recycling bins are stashed out of the way below the seat.

The Merrythought swing bed

Tools and materials: tape measure, mattress, 2-by-4 lumber, saw, drill, screws, rope.

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