one green planet
one green planet

Pallets are one of the great blessings bestowed by the gods of upcycling projects. There is perhaps nothing that can be rendered into such lovely, useful things as the humble pallet. Originally built to do nothing more than make shipping other things easier, pallets have become highly regarded as a source of reclaimed wood and the catalyst for eclectic patio furniture.

While not everyone is skilled, patient, or equipped enough to churn out wooden works of art, it doesn’t take much know-how or many tools to make some attractive and practical things out of pallets. After making just a few cuts (if that) and banging in a couple of nails, it’s possible to make all sorts of charming furniture for the home and garden.

Bed Stand and Rustic Headboard


Many of us spent a large portion of our twenties sleeping on mattresses and, optionally, a box spring that had been crudely stacked on the floor. While this is certainly functional, it is notably not quite up to snuff. With just a tad extra effort, and possibly no money, a novice carpenter and/or college student can build a pallet bed frame and headboard.

After giving the pallets a quick sand and stain (if a touch of refinement seems worth it), simply nail a couple of pallets together side-by-side to make a frame. Then, nail a third pallet sitting upright to make a rustic headboard. Welcome to adulthood. After this, it’s worth considering getting rid of the upturned box and trying for an upcycled pallet nightstand.

Work Table

With all the pallet work that is undoubtedly in the near future, it seems logical to construct some sort of work table to help piece things together. While many people rush out to the hardware store to get a kit, the pallet enthusiast knows better. This one is so easy.

Stand two pallets up on the long sides with the rails facing inwards and put a third pallet atop them with the rails facing down. Hook the tops of the standing pallets against the inside edges of the outer boards of the horizontal pallet (most pallets have one side with three rails). Nail them together with 3” or 4” nails anywhere that seems doable. If there are some scrap pallet boards lying about, use them to steady the table (Remember: Triangles equate to strength, so nail stabilizing boards diagonally if possible). As well, if there are a lot of wood scraps around, they can make a dandy shelf between the pallet legs.

Hanging Book or Wine Shelf


With little more than a handsaw and hammer, it’s possible to make a cool little shelf to hang on the wall, and it’s perfect for either holding bottles of wines and liquor or for holding books and magazines (Or, both of those things for the sophisticated drinker or drunken reader.)

Saw the pallet in half just before the middle rail. Remove one of the boards from the piece that still has the middle rail (the middle board of the top side of this piece of pallet is the best bet). Then, nail that board to the bottom side of the piece of pallet without the middle rail. Now, it can either be hung on the wall or stood on a table, bar, etc., to make a cool shelf-holder thing.

Simple Patio Bench


This project makes a great companion project with the hanging bookshelf. Now, make the same cut on another pallet, leaving one side of the pallet with the middle rail and the other without it. Now, stack the two-railed pallet atop the remaining two-railed one, missing the top middle board, which was used to make the wine shelf. Nail them together, and that’s a garden bench.

To step it up a notch, use the remaining portion of the pallet, with only one rail to make a back to the bench. Using 3-inch or 4-inch nails, simply attach this piece to the back of the bench, with the rail facing away from the bench. It’s not 100percenty ergonomic, but it does the job.

Shoe Rack

Nothing says messy entryway like a stack of errant Shoes meandering into the hallway. If only there was somewhere handy for the kids to put Shoes when they walked in the door. In comes the pallet, and this one is a no cut, no hammer solution, though a quick sand and paint or varnish does make it much nicer.

Stand the pallet up against the wall (it could be attached but doesn’t necessarily need to be) with the slats going horizontally. The toes of Shoes can the be tucked into the cracks between the pallet slats, and that is much better than having them on the floor, right? It’s a pallet shoe rack.

Now, it’s time to take a break, sip some lemonade (perhaps spiked with a little something from the booze shelf you made), and admire the projects. You are officially a handy person, so give yourself a pat on the back. We all start somewhere.

Lead Image Source: Flickr