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Wooden Pallet Projects For The Frugal Homeowner
Open Your Mind
It is time to toss aside pre-conceived notions. Frugal living is all about practicality, and most definitely about using free stuff whenever possible, and today we are going to discuss the various uses of the under-appreciated wooden pallet.
You have all seen them, stacked up behind most grocery stores, or for that matter behind any store that receives product via a semi-struck. Often, after a brief discussion with the store owner, you can haul off those pallets at no cost, and when that happens, a new world of possibilities has opened its door to you.
For those of you who are now shaking your heads, just be patient and be willing to listen for a second. Open your mind and consider the information you are about to read; take a look at the pictures if you need further convincing.
Logic will tell you that wooden pallets are made of quality wood. We know this because of the heavy loads they carry, and the fact that often they have to sit outside in all kinds of weather. Thus, they are the perfect building material for all sorts of projects, some of which I am going to show you now.
There are two ways to do any of these projects. One way is a lot of work, and that involves taking each pallet apart and using just the slats to build with. Silly process if you ask me! The other way involves building with the pallet intact, and that is the simplest way and thus the way I will discuss in this article.
Pallets come in several sizes, from 36”x36”’ to the common rectangle pallet which is 48”x40”. The ideas I am about to share with you can be done using any size of pallet; however, if possible, the 48”x40” is the best and the strongest.
So sit back, toss aside your skepticism for awhile, and enter with me into a brand new world, one fueled by the concept of frugal living; one fueled by the ingenuity of necessity.
Making a Fence
This is an incredibly easy project to complete, and it takes no carpentry skills at all. All you need is a screwdriver and some screws; the pallets, of course, are free.
As you can see from the picture, if you take two pallets and stand them side by side, and insert another pallet in-between them, perpendicular to those first two, you will have one section of fence. Screw the three together, and then continue the process until your fence is completed. Please note there is no need for fence posts; the perpendicular pallets provide all the support and stability.
This is a great solution for a small animal enclosure, and it is strong enough, literally, to pen pigs and withstand their constant bumping and pushing. If you choose to skip the perpendicular pallet, then fence posts will be needed for support, but seriously, that sounds, to this guy, like way too much work, and I'm all about simple. Besides, fence posts cost money!
Making a Chicken Coop or Dog House
Step by step instructions can be found elsewhere…..let me summarize quickly. Using a pallet as flooring, and using four pallets for the framing of the walls, you can literally frame your chicken coop in half an hour. You will then need to fasten plywood for the walls, and cut out a door for the chickens (or dog) to enter, but this requires minimal skills to do. That leaves you a roof to design; preferably it will be sloped and remember that the simpler the better. A piece of plywood and some roofing shingles should do the trick. We used an old pickup truck canopy for ours.
Building a shed from pallets
Making a Play House or Shed
There is no room in this article for detailed instructions on how to do this, but you can watch the video to find out how, and check out the picture for proof that it is possible and easy.
The possibilities are practically endless when making furniture out of pallets. Take a look at the pictures and you will get a feel for how easy this is. Two pallets on top of each other make a great couch or futon frame. Paint it, add a mattress and some pillows, and you will be amazed by how functional it is.
Three or four pallets sitting on top of each other make a perfect table for the living room. Laminate a top, or cut to size some other material to fit your needs and taste. The pallets provide great storage in their slots for magazines or board games.
Use two pallets to make a chair, very similar in style to an Adirondack chair, and all you are looking at is several screws, two pallets, and a brace cut to size.
Let your imagination run wild with this furniture idea; if you can imagine it you can make it.
Making a Vertical Garden
Are you ready? Here is the skill you will need….stand the pallet up on end, attach some sort of garden netting on one side, and fill it with dirt. Plant your seedlings and watch them grow.
I know; it seems too easy, but that’s all there is to it. Paint it some funky colors and you have a great addition to any patio or deck.
The ultimate frugal raised flower bed, this requires screwing four pallets together in the shape of a box or rectangle. Add dirt and plant!
If you can screw four pallets together in the shape of a box, you can make a compost bin. It needs no top, but you may consider putting a lid on it (another pallet) to keep raccoons and other critters out of it.
If you really want to get fancy, make the front wall removable so that shoveling and turning over the compost is an easier task.
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What do you think? Can you see yourself building one of these?
Really, the only thing holding you back is your pre-conceived notion about pallets. Are they attractive? Well, with a coat of paint, to my eye they look like any other building material or piece of avant-garde furniture. Are they functional? Most definitely! Are they sturdy? You better believe it! If they can hold thousands of pounds of product they can stand up to anything you have planned for them.
Listen, this is about frugal living. If you keep your eyes open you can pick up as many pallets as you want for free. If you use them outdoors they will last you five or more years, and if you paint them with an outdoor finish, you will get ten or more years out of them, and it is all free! Did I mention they are free!
Other possible projects might include a firewood shed, livestock feeder, dinner table, bookshelf, wall décor, or a hanging swing. Remember that imagination plus Yankee ingenuity equals genius!
I have just touched on the ideas I thought of in a half hour of brainstorming. Now it’s your turn! What uses can you think of?
2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)