The Best Do It Yourself Shipping Pallet Chairs
Pallet Recycling: Build A Chair
Shipping Pallet Recycling Project
I had been saving some old shipping palets for months. It just seemed like such a waste to throw them away so I was looking for a project. The wood was good, cut straight and only needed re-purposing. After looking at these pallets sitting in my driveway for several months I finally hit on a great idea for a pallet project. I had considered building an elevated bike trail, garden fencing and tables but nothing really clicked. Then, one day, a friend of mine mentioned seeing chairs built from re-used shipping pallets.When I heard this I knew I had found my first project. I could literally "see" the unfinished chair among the rails and slats of the three pallets I had collected. After a few days of thinking through my plan I had a basic design and was ready to start!
These pallet chairs have great appeal
Pallet Chairs, a grass roots phenomenon!
How many of you have already built a pallet chair?
What You Need To Make A Shipping Pallet Chair.
Other than some hand tools there are not many things you will need to make a pallet chair. Each chair takes two shipping pallets, some 2-3 inch deck screws and some 2 inch stainless steel lag screws. Tools you will need are; circular saw, drill/screwgun, speed square, level, drill bits, measuring tape, pencil, pad and sandpaper/sander. I built mine in the yard, altogether I think it took about 7 hours to build. This time includes finding the pallets.
Getting Started on your pallet chair project
When I built the first chair I used pallets I had already collected. I got them from work. These were new, "high quality" pallets just waiting for a good idea and some free time. For the second chair I had to scrounge pallets. This sounds easier than it actually is. I found pallets right away, mountains of them, but they were not useable. Pallets are used to ship everything and they can be found behind any strip mall or small business. You can easily find a pallet graveyard looking behind the closest strip mall.
The right pallet for furniture
The problem is that not all pallets are suited to make furniture. Old, broken pallets full of rusty nails are not ok. It may take some time to find pallets that will make a good chair. I always look for new pallets. Sometimes an older one is ok if its in good shape and not dirty. There shouldn't be any broken boards and the inner rails should be solid wood near in size to a 2x4. When choosing a pallet I also look at the aesthetics of the wood. How does it look? Are there lots of little boards or only a few large ones? These are important questions.
Simple Pallet Chair Construction
The chair has a great look even without embellishment
Assembling The Pallet Chair
The beauty of this design is that you don't have to disassemble a bunch of pallets. I didn't reclaim lumber and then build a chair. I reclaimed used pallets and built chairs out of them. This is why its important to choose good pallets. Pretty pallets equals pretty chairs. You will have to disassemble one pallet to get an extra rail for the bottom. Other than that it is primarily cutting the pallets into shape. Each pieces dimensions are determined by the construction of the original pallet but the design remains the same.
The most important part of the chair assembly is the seat and back. For this I used the nicest of my pallets. It was the newest, the cleanest and it was built with lots of narrower boards that were closer together. Most of the chair's appeal comes from its look. And the quality of the pallet does affect your final product.
I attached the back rest to the bottom frame at a 10 degree back angle, or 55 degrees. I practiced with the back rest perpendicular to the seat and felt it was uncomfortable. In order to firmly attach the back rest I had to modify the bottom edge with a nailer. This is a board installed so that I had a solid place for the screws that was also easy to get to. After the back and seat were attached they were fixed in place with the arm rests and supports. The entire design is based on geometry. The simplicity and beauty of the design combine to make these chairs elegant pieces of modern folk art.
More to come soon.......and project number two!
My second project is a fancy blue bird house made from the same materials. It is easy to make several houses at once so you can ensure plenty of room for all your local bluebirds!
Blue Bird Houses
Other pallet projects
- Birdhouses - pallets are a great source of reclaimed lumber for bird houses. A blue bird house should be 5 inches square inside dimensions,with a 1 1/2 inch hole about 6-8 inches off the floor of the house. I recommend installing a hinge in the roof or box so you can clean it out each year.
- Tables- pallets make great out side furniture, I look for a new, clean pallet with boards close together. For some tables a scrounged piece of glass or reclaimed window can make a great top.
- Shoe rack- You can make a nice rack for all the kids, and your, muddy shoes.
- Planter Box- assemble cut down pallets into squares and rectangles that can be filled with dirt and used for gardening.
- Shadow boxes- Pallets, especially age hardwood pallets, have a nice "anitqued" look to them and make great display boxes.