Wood pallets are easily accessible items that can be found almost anywhere. Businesses, such as grocery stores, hardware stores, and lumberyards, often have them lying around and are happy to give them away for free. I’ve also found them through construction companies and businesses that have items shipped in crates. Make sure you ask first, just to be sure, as sometimes pallets are sent back to the companies they came from.
Once you have your pallets, taking them apart isn’t difficult, but it does require a bit of muscle and some patience.
Start by laying the pallet on the ground, making sure there’s ample room to work around it. If the boards on the edges are cracked or you just need smaller pieces for a project, use a circular saw to cut along the center braces and remove the usable parts. For longer pieces and whole boards, use a crowbar and hammer. Remove any nails that are already sticking out and hammer the crowbar under the edges, carefully pulling up a bit at a time around the nails to make sure you don’t crack the board.
You can also use the hammer to hit the board from behind where it connects to the thicker brace to loosen it up, but do only a little bit at a time, because it’s easier to crack the boards that way. A reciprocating saw will cut through the nails, so cutting between the brace and the board is an option, but it may be more difficult to get the nails out of the wood if you take the boards apart that way. Whichever method you choose, be sure to use proper safety equipment.
Farmhouse Spice Rack
After an unsuccessful search for the perfect spice rack for my kitchen, I decided to make one of my own. I kept the design relatively simple, and I love the way the vintage metal canisters and jars full of dry goods look against the natural finish of the pallet wood. The rack can also be used for other purposes, such as displaying seashells from various trips, storing jars of buttons, or holding screws and nails.
Tools and Materials:
- Nail gun or hammer
- 1-1/2-inch nails
- Miter saw
- Wood glue
- Table saw
- Ruler or Square
- Pallet boards, at least 24 inches long (10)
- Sawtooth hanger
1. Determine the size for your project. Cut six boards to the same length and set aside. These will make up the sides and back pieces. Lay out the remaining four boards and measure the distance across (measurement “A”). Measure the depth of two boards (measurement “B”). Subtract B from A and cut the remaining four boards to that length for the top, bottom, and two shelves. Lay everything out and see how it fits together, adjusting accordingly.
2. For my project, I wanted to put narrower spice jars on display, so I didn’t make the rack too deep. I ripped the top, bottom, and shelving boards down to 3 inches using a table saw, but if you have larger items, such as mason jars, you’ll want to leave them wider. Sand the boards smooth.
3. Take two of the longer boards and two of the shorter boards, and then glue and nail them together, making the rectangular front of the rack. The shorter boards should be on the inside of the longer. Be sure to line up the nail gun straight with the board you’re shooting into.
4. Flip the rectangle over and put a bead of glue all the way around. Lay the four back pieces on it, and nail all around the outside.
5. Flip the piece over to the front. I put two shelves in mine, but feel free to add as many as you like. Measure down equally on both sides and mark where the shelves will go. Place one shelf in and put a nail in each side to hold it in place. Use the ruler or square to make sure it’s level, and then use it to lightly draw a line on the outside of the rack to line up the nails. Finish securing the shelf in place, and then repeat with the other shelf.
6. Once more, flip the whole piece back over. Using the ruler, connect the lines you drew in Step 5 across the back of the rack. This will give you the center of each shelf to help you to finish nailing it all together. The lines will easily sand off when you’re finished.
7. Now that the assembly is finished, paint or stain the piece however you like, and let it dry completely. I chose to leave mine natural because I really liked the characteristics of the pallet wood, so I just lightly sanded it with a finer-grit paper.
8. Install a sawtooth hanger on the back for hanging.
These projects are reprinted with permission from Wood Pallet Wonders: 20 Stunning DIY Storage & Décor Designs Made from Reclaimed Pallets by Samantha Hartman, published by Skyhorse Publishing, Inc., 2018.