3 Amazing DIY Projects to Repurpose Pallets

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Looking for a DIY Pallet Planter project? I’m always creating compact solutions for my Home. If you have limited time, money, space or skills you may find this easy, low-cost pallet project a simple way to make your Home functional and beautiful.

I love reusing everyday materials to save money and tread lighter on the planet. Wood pallets are a free resource available at many business and industrial sites. I upcycle pallets for all sorts of home projects, from mini garden storage units to compost bays and planters.

People have come up with some awesome ways to recycle and reuse wooden shipping pallets and it’s pretty darn inspiring.  While not specifically survival related, the mentality of creatively using resources is a key theme in any survivor’s mindset.  I put together a collection of some of my favorite recycled pallet projects below that I thought you would enjoy.

A note on using pallets.  Pallets are typically marked with either MB which means they’ve been chemically treated or HT which means they have been heat treated.  Some pallets are also pressure treated with preservatives.  You should try to avoid using MB marked and pressure treated pallets for interior projects and gardening projects.  Try to avoid those nasty chemicals if you can. Make Your Own Potting Bench.

Well, luckily for you, these problems become a blessing in disguise because I have spent the last 40 years to put together the world’s most comprehensive collection of woodworking plans.What if I told you that you could get your hands on 16,000 woodworking projects with already “done-for-you” plans with step-by-step blueprints that let you build stunning, professional woodworking projects — easily, quickly & hassle free?

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1. Make Your Own Potting Bench

  • A new line of potting benches at Chicweed, a garden accessories and design boutique in Solana Beach, California, is made from wooden pallets; only the screws are new. Chicweed owner Susie Teisl came up with the idea and asked local woodworker Jon Hawley if he could build them.

    He could — and so can you. Hawley starts with two pallets that initially held boxes of tile because tile box pallets provide the longest and strongest lumber. Teisl says the potting bench’s 37-inch-high work surface is perfect for potting plants.

    Once you’ve assembled the bench, you can attach salvaged or inexpensive hardware along the countertop edge to hold gardening tools, or screw casters to the leg bottoms to make the bench more mobile. You might even cut a hole and drop in a plastic or metal pan for holding potting soil or seed-starting mix. You can paint the wooden surfaces lively colors or stain them.

  • What You’ll Need:

    One or two wooden pallets

    Framing hammer

    Pry bar

    Measuring tape

    Straightedge

    Pencil

    Miter saw or circular saw

    2×4 lumber (optional)

    Table saw

    1-5/8-inch galvanized exterior screws

    Screw gun

    Glue (optional)

    Level

    Drill

    Sandpaper

    Tack cloth or vacuum

    Stain and polyurethane or primer and paint

  • Step 1: Disassemble the Pallets

    Disassemble the pallet(s) using a hammer and pry bar.

    Potting Bench Assembly Tip: Be careful not to damage the ends of the boards during deconstruction. Select the widest, best-looking boards for the countertop. Measure the salvaged wood; its dimensions will determine how wide the finished bench can be. (Hawley’s benches usually measure 40-42 inches wide.)

  • Step 2: Make the Boards Uniform

    Using a straightedge, pencil, and miter or circular saw, mark and trim away splintered wood and square the edges of the boards — “unless you want to keep the nail holes,” Hawley says. “Some people think they look unique.” He suggests cutting off knotholes and other weak parts of the boards for a stronger potting bench.

  • Step 3: Build the Legs

    Use the pallet base or 2×4 lumber for the legs. Because most pallets have three 2×4 pieces, you need to break down a second pallet or join two pallet pieces with screws to make a fourth leg. To get the hutch top above the countertop height, notch with the table saw 8 inches out of each of the two 2×4 pieces (for the back legs), and add another notched piece for the desired height of 60 inches. “Sister” these two notched pieces with screws, and glue, if you wish. These pieces can come from the other pallet’s 2×4 base pieces or from 1x material cut to match the width of the leg pieces. After you’ve notched out all four of the back legs and extension pieces, connect them with screws.

  • Step 4: Frame It Up

    Starting with the two back legs, attach a 1×26-inch board; this will be the depth of the bench. Screw it in perpendicular to the inside of the leg pieces so the tops of the boards will be 36 inches from the ground. Screw in the other front leg to the 1x piece so you have a configuration resembling a lowercase h. Repeat so you have two identical pieces that will serve as the framework for the left and right sides of your bench.

  • Step 5: Attach the Skirts

    Add one countertop board at the back of the bench to support it, then position the front face board, or skirt, and install it. “Sister” the front legs to match the thickness of the back legs. Flip the bench over and install the back skirt to complete the frame.

  • Step 6: Add Blocks

    Measure and install blocks on the back legs in the spaces directly in front of the back skirt. You will screw the final countertop piece into these blocks.

  • Step 7: Install the Countertop

    Choose your countertop pieces, lay them flush with each other from front to back, and screw them into place. The front countertop piece can overlap the front skirt slightly if you wish. You will have to cut the last piece to the appropriate width and length.

  • Step 8: Build the Bottom Shelf Support

    To create supports for the bottom shelf, about 7 inches above the base attach two 1x pieces to the front and back legs on each side.

    Potting Bench Tip: To ensure consistent shelf height, you can install temporary spacers (the longer pieces parallel to and touching the ground) and measure the distance between the tops of the spacers and the tops of the shelf-support pieces.

  • Step 9: Install the Bottom and Top Shelves

    Screw in the bottom shelf pieces using 1x material the same way you did the countertop. Add the top shelf, screwing it into the tops of the back legs.

  • Step 10: Add the Back Slats

    Install more 1x boards to form the back slats, generously and evenly spacing the boards so you can hook things over them in the future. Use a level to make sure the slats are straight.

  • Step 11: Cut Bracing Blocks

    Using 1x material, measure for length and cut two blocks with 45-degree ends. Drill holes into the edges so the blocks won’t split when you screw them into place. Start screws into the blocks.

  • Step 12: Install Bracing Blocks

    Position the bracing blocks on the insides of the back legs. Drive screws into the back legs, the countertop, and the back skirt. Drill in the back-skirt screws from the outside. These blocks will prevent side-to-side motion of the potting bench.

  • Step 13: Smooth the Surface

    Remove all rough, splinter-inducing spots with sandpaper.

    You’re done! You now have an attractive, creative potting bench for all your gardening needs.

  • Step 14: Stain or Paint

    Wipe down or vacuum the entire bench to remove wood dust. Stain or paint the bench. Hawley applies one coat of stain, then two coats of polyurethane, following the label instructions for drying times. If you paint, apply two coats of primer and two coats of paint for a long-lasting finish.

    Step 15: Make It Your Own

          “Embellish your bench any way you want,” Hawley says. Popular choices include hooks and freestanding containers for corralling smaller items.

 

2. Pallet Coat Rack

A new apartment means new furniture as cheap as possible, this story is one of a coat rack.

My brother in law had some nice slabs of wood from which I could have one. The first idea about the looks was born. That was until a friend of mine sent me a picture of a pallet shelf for his special beers. The question was asked and this story got a twist. I was the proud owner of some ugly old pallet wood. The design in my head was adjusted to match the wood and two lunch breaks later the wood work was completed. I ordered nice looking nail hooks, made ugly but functional brackets and me and my girlfriend had a nice coat rack.

Materials:

  • pallet
  • old rusty nails
  • screws
  • blank varnish
  • steel, for the brackets.
  • hooks

About the Pallet coat rack:

  • The wooden back plate is made with small screws from the back so they won’t be visible.
  • Big rusty nails were added, after drilling a hole to prevent splitting of the wood, and bend in the back. These are only for the looks.
  • All the wood is varnished.
  • The heads of the nails are varnished as well to prevent the rust from destroying clothing.
  • Shelves were added. The blocks are screwed from the back. The wood in front and on the bottom is only nailed. The holes for these nails were also pre-drilled to prevent splitting. The blocks however are only drilled with a very small size drill to make sure the nails do their job.

I recommend you to watch this free survival video and Learn ultimate survival techniques from The Lost Ways

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3. Pallet Planter

What you need:

  1. Clean Pallet – in new or as good condition as possible (heat-treated rather than chemical) – See tips at the end of the post on 20 Creative Ways to Upcycle Pallets in your Garden for what to look for.
  2. Sandpaper for any rough edges if needed + a pair of gloves.
  3. Hammer and a few 2.5cm (1 inch) nails.
  4. 2-3 extra timber palings from another pallet for shelves (cut to size if needed).
  5. Drill (optional and easier for pre-drilling holes if you have one but you can use the hammer instead) and a screwdriver.
  6. Non-toxic paint in your colour choice (preferably enviro-friendly low-VOC). Or timber stain and a medium sized paint brush.
  7. (Optional) depending on your situation, you may also want 2 steel star pickets or stakes and 4 screws (2 for each side) to support the pallet vertically either end.
  8. Patience (that’s for the painting part!!) or rope your kids or significant others in to help! It took about 1 hr to paint one coat on both sides for a good finish.
  9. Glass of bubbles to celebrate your achievement!

 

Take a good look at your pallet when choosing it. Each one is made differently and some lend themselves to this project more than others. This is what mine looked like on the underside.

 

Raw timber pallet upcycled into painted planter10

Left: This pallet had 2 horizontal palings at the top/bottom and one in the middle. Right: When painted these are the front of the planter.

 

On the other side it had vertical palings so looked good as a ‘fence’ or side wall.

 

Upcycled pallet fence supported by 2 long lasting black coated steel star pickets | The Micro Gardener10

The pallet planter is supported by 2 long lasting black coated steel star pickets driven into the ground alongside the planter + 2 screws into the pallet timber.

 

5 Step-by-Step Instructions:

  • STEP 1: Check the width of your potential ‘planter boxes’ on each tier of the pallet. My pallets were about 100mm (4 in) wide. If you want them wider so you can slot in a rectangular pot rather than making a shelf underneath, then you may need to remove the front timber slat and pack out the timber to make it the width you want. I didn’t need to do this but it’s an option.

Check width and add extra timber if needed to widen your planter box | The Micro Gardener10

Add extra small piece of timber either end & centre if needed to widen your planter box

  • STEP 2: Add a timber paling as a ‘shelf’ for each planter ‘box’ by nailing it to the underside. I just used a hammer and nails for this. Measure the timber so it is the same length as the pallet, but not as wide so there is a gap along the edge for water to drain (see below).

Nail timber slat cut to length underneath to form shelf on each tier of the pallet. | The Micro Gardener10

Position timber slat underneath to form a shelf on each tier of the pallet.

  • Nail the slat in place.

Hammer nails up underneath to secure as shelving. | The Micro Gardener10

Hammer nails up underneath to secure as shelving.

  • Allow a gap for drainage. You can also drill additional drainage holes in the timber planter box base if you wish.

Timber slat shelf nailed in place with a gap for water to drain out | The Micro Gardener10

Timber slat shelf nailed in place with a gap for water to drain out

  • STEP 3: Prepare the timber. If there are rough edges you  may need to grab the gloves and use sandpaper to smooth these off and prevent splinters. I like a rustic look so don’t mind if the wood isn’t perfect but if you want to, you can fill holes or gaps with a timber putty or filler.

Sand any rough edges on your pallet10

Sand any rough edges where necessary before painting.

  • Next, your pallet is ready for painting or timber stain depending on your personal taste and budget.

The pallet was sanded & brushed down ready for painting.10

The pallet was sanded & brushed down ready for painting.

 

  • Remember when choosing paint or tint, pale colours reflect light and dark colours absorb it. If you live in a warm climate, painting your pallet black may not be the best choice. Here in the subtropics I chose cream. It looks classy and was a nice backdrop for the black decorative hooks and butterfly chalkboard I wanted to hang.

 

Prep coat on the planter. | The Micro Gardener10

Even though it will take a little longer, a prep coat and top coat of paint will give you a longer lasting planter.

 

  •  Once the top coat is on, the planter should be looking like this:

 

Shelves added to the 3 tiers and outside of planter is painted. | The Micro Gardener10

Shelves added to the 3 tiers and outside of planter is painted.

 

  •  STEP 4: Next up you’re ready for the fun part – adding your pots, plants and decorative items.

A couple of decorative garden tool hooks were added next. | The Micro Gardener10

A couple of decorative garden tool hooks were added next.

 

  • STEP 5: Position your pallet in place. If it needs support in the ground, use the star pickets or stakes. Otherwise, you can add some additional T-pieces of timber as feet supports and perhaps secure to your balcony with zip ties. Or secure to a planter box with more weight at the base. Add your favourite plants and water in.

 

Pallet planter needs to be secured in place as it is very heavy. | The Micro Gardener10

Time to position your planter on your balcony, deck or in your garden. You will need to consider where your water will drain underneath the planter so perhaps add a drip tray with gravel.

Are you ready to turn back the clocks to the 1800’s for up to three years? Our grandfathers and great-grandfathers were the last generation to practice the basic things that we call survival skills now… WATCH THIS VIDEO and you will find many interesting things!

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