When two of your four surrounding neighbors are doing the same DIY project, the smell of a trend becomes rather strong.
Pallets—those large wooden platforms you see loaded with bags of mulch at nurseries or sacks of dog food at Costco—have become the It Girl of DIY building materials. Not only is the handy guy across the alley from me turning a pallet into a side table for his wife’s birthday, but the equally handy mom across the street turned one into a bed for her teenage son. (See picture from proud momma.)
Take a gander at pinterest … you’ll find shelves, bookcases, chairs, tables, etc.—all made from old pallets. You may get so excited about the possibilities that you rush right out to grab a few. But don’t do it. There are some important things to look for when obtaining your pallets.
Pallets may have icky stuff on them Wooden platforms are sometimes used for carrying chemicals, food and other things that can lead to toxic spills. Check the wood for stains. Unblemished wood is a good sign that it’s safe. And, an artist wants a blank canvas, right?
Research a pallet’s birthmarks You may find markings or stamps on the pallet. These codes can tell you where and how it was made. Untreated wood is safe; chemically-treated wood … not so much. Typically, pallets used for domestic transportation are untreated and will not have any markings; outside of spills, they likely are safe. Two important stamps to look for as you select:
- IPPC The logo for the International Plant Protection Convention. These pallets cannot be made of raw wood that has not been treated because they are shipped internationally. If the pallet is traveling globally, it should have this stamp.
- MB Wood that has been fumigated with a chemical called methyl bromide. You don’t want this. They are harder to find because the method was banned in 2010, but some may be out there yet.Locate the best source for safe pallets You want to snag your platforms from places that do not transport hazardous materials. Try feed and tack suppliers, newspaper distribution centers and nurseries.What’s the look you’re going for? The wood on a pallet can be uneven. Some pieces might be more distressed looking than others. When you disassemble your platform, try to envision the feel you want for your project. If going for a weathered-look, position those wood pieces in the most visible positions. The below pic shows how varied the wood can be.In describing her bed project to me, my neighbor stressed that a hand-held power sander is REALLY important to your happiness. The wood is very rough—a haven for splinters—so unless you’re looking for a cardio workout, get the power-driven sander.If you throw yourself into a pallet project, please comment with your pictures and experience! We’d love to see what’s cooking.Note: Now and again ReStore has a pallet or two to give away. Ask a store team member what’s available on your next visit.
This and other DIY blogs from ReStore can also be found at Figlancaster.com