I have been thinking of recycling wood palettes lately for stock
material. I suspect that there will be quite a bit of waste, and that I
would have to be careful of nails, etc. Has anyone tried this and for
what projects has it been used for.
Waste is very high as the wood is the lowest grades. Much more splitting
that you'd get with what you'd buy at a dealer. Some are OK, others are
just not worth the effort to haul home.
I've used it for a variety of things, mostly smaller as you have to cut
around stuff like nail holes and knots. It is often a higher moisture
content so if it is new, let it age for a time. If you use a careful eye,
you can get some good looking wood at the cost of labor. I've made a few
boxes and trays. I'd not attempt a big table.
Yes wood can be salvaged from pallets and some of it is very nice material.
I built a large entertainment center for the owner of a pallet company. He
furnished or bought the material and in exchange for my labor he keeps me
supplied with wood. The pallets he makes are almost 100% made from used
pallets. The pallets are disassembled by sawing them apart using large
horizontal band saws. The stringers being full of sawed off nails/staples
are of no use except to make another pallet. The slats will have sawed off
nails at the ends and in the middle. The slats are typically 40 inches
long. Two sticks about 17 inches long that are free of nail holes are the
maximum you can obtain from each slat. Most of the hardwood slats are less
than 3/4 inches thick and by the time they are cleaned up the stock less
than 1/2 inch thick. However, occasionally palettes show up with 3/4 inch
thick hardwood slats that after some work yield nice material. Besides the
risk of running into nails/staples the wood is usually dirty and full of
grit. I start with a metal detector and then run them through my big drum
sander to remove the grit. It is only after you get a clean flat surface
that you can tell what you have. If I had to start with whole pallets and
dispose of the waste it just wouldn't be worth the trouble.
Earl's situation is quite unique. For the casual woodworker and certainly
the professional, using pallet or salvaged wood is not desirable. It takes
just too much time(and effort) for these individuals to prepare the wood for
use. For myself, I certainly can afford to buy premium grade wood but I
only use used wood for somewhat metaphorical reasons. If I chose to do
commission work, then I would probably use premium wood because pedestrian
clients would not see the character in the salvaged wood that I find
desirable and want the no-knot, straight -grain, no-flaw stuff.
Old stale gloat
When I was a kid, I grew up in the Orient. When we were getting ready
to move back to the states, we had a lot of stuff that we were
shipping, and my dad (a woodworker) called a packing company to pack
all of our stuff. We were given two quotes - one for packing crates
made out of rough cut teak - the other for the more sturdy and
expensive option of plywood. I remember my dad's grin when he told
them that the rough teak crates would do!
On Mon, 05 Jan 2004 13:13:15 -0500, Silvan
How desperate are you for free wood? (If they're not free, forget it.
They're definitely not worth buying.)
It's possible, but it sucks. I've never actually used pallet wood for
anything. I never could get enough out of any of the pallets I've hacked
up to make it worth the effort.
Michael McIntyre ---- Silvan < firstname.lastname@example.org>
Linux fanatic, and certified Geek; registered Linux user #243621
If you do use recycled palette wood, you will probably want to either be
extra careful with the dust (respirators all round) or be really sure the
wood hasn't been treated with anything. I've heard of case where people
have gotten poisoned working wood from palettes that got spray treated to
kill bugs as they cross international borders.
I have a virtually unlimited supply of pallets. The way I cut them up is to run
a circular saw next to the stringers, salvaging the slat halves, avoiding the
nails. It isn't wonderful wood but I have made bat houses and small boxes from
I cut the stringers up for firewood.
The bugs do get to these so I am assuming they aren't treated.
I have found some shipping crates that have excellent wood in them.
If you're lucky, some pallets (or packing crate) are made from interesting
A friend of mine's dad was posted - and returned - from Vanuatu. They
packaged his stuff in a crate and when it was delivered at his house, I was
there and my jaw hit the ground. The packing crate was 4/4 New Guinea
Rosewood. There were 5 nail holes every 24 inches (like dice) but in
between was pure rosewood... The crate was 15 feet long, 6 feet high, and 6
I have used quite a bit of pallet wood. Most has been some kind of
south american pine used on pallets for copy paper (my work buys it by
the full tractor load). This is mostly 3/4" thick and needed planed
down some and had a nice pinkish heartwood. I have built a number of
shop cabinets from this wood as well as a nice looking office filing
cabinet/storage unit for my home office. Other pallets I have used had
nicely figured woods (also of South American origin) which I have not
tried to identify but look kinda mohoganyish. I have made a nice lathe
chisel case, a large case for my router bits, shaper bits and molder
blades, some drill bit boxes, etc. as well as an in/out box set for my
daughter. Lastly, some pallets are made of plywood in approximately
4'x4' pieces. I have had a few (again from South America) with a nice
looking veneer on them and have used these in some small stands and
tables. I have also tried to use some more standard american pallets
either made of pine (crappy wood not worth the effort) or oak & maple.
The hardwood pallets provided a small amout of usable wood but was
overall fairly useless and VERY hard to get apart - I no longer bother
We got a bunch of pallets in made of some version of Mahogany.
Custom box for digital caliper, custom box for sharp stone, custom
box . . . . . .
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
I'm currently using white oak from a pallet as part of a wooden
sword for a nephew*. I've also used boards from the same pallet
for table legs.
I've been wanting to try bending some oak and I suspect this will
be my source of wood. The oak at HD is all kiln dried and this-
from my reading- ruins it for bending. I suspect this stuff was
air dried in transit.
*I'm using the oak for the hand guard with the tang of the blade
passing through a mortise (got to have some where to learn
how to use a chisel to make's). The blade is also scrap but
pine with western cedar edge strips to cut down on the
potential damage to siblings and furniture; planed by hand.
I made him one for Christmas but it got laid out sans
name-tag and his sister laid claim to that one; it has become
and issue in the last couple of days that he wanted one too.
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