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What Should I Know Before Trying to Use Pallet Wood for DIY Projects?

03 Aug 2017

Wooden pallets are ubiquitous and versatile, making them perfect for rehashing into new items such as furniture. For the DIYer looking to embark on their next craft project, wooden pallets are an invaluable resource to have to hand. Before you start transforming a wooden pallet, however, there are a few essential things to know.

Choosing a Pallet

It’s vital to understand the origins of the pallet you use, as this means you can trace what it was used for and whether it may have had contact with harmful substances. Pallets that have been exposed to chemicals, toxic substances or contaminants should always be avoided.

Purchase your pallet new or from a specialist supplier who can confirm the origins of the pallet.

Make a Visual Inspection

Take a good look at your wooden pallet before using it in your DIY project. Look for any evidence of spillages or stains, and scrap those pallets that appear visibly marked. Only use pallets that look meticulously clean, and steer clear of coloured wooden pallets.

You might also notice symbols or logos stamped on the pallet – these tell you whether the pallet has been used overseas and whether it has been treated or not.

If a pallet has been used for international shipping, it should carry the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) logo, which means that it’s made from materials that are resistant to insect or plant disease.

Be wary of any pallets marked with MB, as this means they’ve been treated with a chemical that is now banned from use. Pallets that display a HT symbol indicate they’ve been heat-treated without the use of chemicals to resist insect infestation.

If you’re making an item that may have contact with or be near food, it’s especially crucial to rigorously check the safety of the pallet beforehand.

Dismantling the Pallet

Spend time understanding how to dismantle the pallet safely and what tools you’ll need before you get stuck into your DIY project. This ensures you avoid damaging the wood and means you can easily and safely remove any screws or nails that may be present.

At the very least, you’ll need a claw hammer, wrecking bar and a nail bar to get to work on dismantling the wood. A nail detector is also handy for locating hidden nail heads.

Bear in mind that pallets that have been stored outside may be damp, and they’ll need to dry out thoroughly before you set to work on them, particularly if you are making an indoor item.

Once you have broken your pallet into pieces, it will need shaping, sanding and finishing. Always do this outdoors, and wear a protective mask.

Project Ideas

The beauty of upcycling wooden pallets is that they can be transformed into all sorts of items for the home or garden, including tables, chairs, shelving, picture frames and works of art. If you’re feeling adventurous, you could even have a go at making your own wooden pallet swimming pool.

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