The Complete Guide to Pallets

26 of your questions about using palletsĀ  answered in one handy guide to pallets. (Updated 2021)

What is a pallet?

Pallets are cheaply made temporary wooden bases used for transporting goods all over the world. The key fact about a pallet is that it can be lifted using a forklift. It is this that defines and separates a pallet from other wooden bases.

guide to pallets

What are Pallet Dimensions?

There is plenty of variation, but generally they are 1200mm by 1100mm. The europallet is 800mm by 1200mm. When you are collecting pallets for a DIY project it is important to remember this fact. When I built a sofa I found that the last two of  the pallets i scavenged were a different size to the others. I had wasted half a day collecting them but they were no good for the project. Thankfully they came in handy for the very next project later in the summer.

How much do pallets weigh?

As they are made of wood there is a huge variation In weight. Pallets can be as lights as 16lb and as heavy as 30lb each.

What wood are pallets made from?

Although most are made from cheap softwoods, there is plenty of variation. I have seen pallets of Oak, Hornbeam, Ash, Apple and Redwood alongside pine.

Who invented the Pallet?

A number of names are associated with the evolution of the Pallet. Noteably americans George Raymond and Bill House.

When were Pallets invented?

They evolved from about 1900 to 1930 when a patent was applied for a standard construction pallet.

Why are some pallets blue?

Those heavy duty blue pallets are meant to be returned to manufacturers so leave those ones alone and always ask permission when scavenging for pallet wood.

How long does it take to take a wood pallet apart

Some pallets come apart in a matter of minutes but others take hours of mucking about to get all the wood prepared for reuse. The problem is that some are held together with screws or big nails and are well constructed while others have nothing but little pins to deal with. You rarely know in advance how much effort each pallet will require.

What can pallet wood be used for?

Pretty much anything is the answer. Well, to clarify, anything that can be made from lumber of 1 metre length can probably be constructed from pallet wood. A quick web search reveals that people are using pallets for everything from bottle stops to whole barns and everything in between.

Can Pallet Wood be used outside?

Yes pallet wood, like any wood can be used outdoors, although treatment will prolong its useful life.

Can Pallet Wood be sanded smooth?

It is always a surprising pleasure to take an old battered bit of pallet wood and sand it to a smooth finish. You find wonderful grains hidden beneath the most unlikely looking surfaces. Please do remember to check for nails and staples before taking a sander to a piece of pallet as otherwise you will ruin your sanding sheets. Planing rather than sanding is a good approach in many cases as it produces far less small particles of waste that might get into your eyes, lungs etc.

Can Pallet Wood be burned?

Well obviously it can, but the question is perhaps better phrased as ‘should you burn pallet wood in your fireplace?’ The answer is generally no, because you do not know what preservative treatments were used on the pallet during manufacture. Since we don’t want to breathe in dangerous fumes we don’t advise burning pallet wood on an open fire.

Can Pallet wood be stained?

I have had excellent results staining pallet wood to all manner of colours and shades. Yes, you can definitely stain pallets in general, but like all woods, each takes up stain differently.

Are Pallet Boards treated?

Some are, some are not. Some are chemically treated, others are pressure treated. Since we don’t know which is which in most cases, when sanding pallet wood I always wear a facemask.

Will pallet wood rot?

Eventually all wood rots when exposed to conditions favourable to the critters that cause wood to rot. In optimal conditions wood stays stable for centuries

How long will Pallet Wood Last?

A treated piece of pallet wood kept indoors may last a lifetime. An untreated item left in the rain may only survive in a useable state for a couple of seasons.

Does a pallet float?

Great question. I have never seen a pallet float without extra boyancy support, but if it is made of the right sort of wood, it is possible I suppose. If you want to make a raft, a strong pallet is is a great starting point. There are pleny of anchorage points and you can screw in eyes to make many more. Just zip-tie some boyancy to your pallet for an instant fun water raft.

Will pallet wood warp?

Yes, pallets can warp but much less than you might imagine. It really is no better or worse than the softwood carpenters buy for construction.

Will pallet wood shrink?

Pallet wood doesn’t shrink to any greater degree that other pieces of wood.

Who buys Pallet Furniture?

If you make pallet furniture you can sell pallet furniture. There are plenty of people out there who love recycled furniture but don’t have the space, skills, tools or self-belief to make it for themselves. These people are all over the internet.

Will a Pallet fit in my car?

These days when I go to pick up pallets I take a saw with me. My little Ford is too small to take a whole large pallet (athough two europallets do just about fit with the back seats properly down).

How Long Will Pallet Furniture last?

As mentioned earlier there is a big variety in this, but expect a well made, covered pallet sofa to last between 6-20 years.

How do you take a pallet apart.

It isn’t easy to do. A big hammer helps.

How do you make a Pallet Coffee Table?

There are many ways to make a pallet coffee table. Here are eighteen of them

How do you make a Pallet Sofa?

I’m working on it! Here is where we are so far with my outdoor sofa

How do you make a Pallet Log Store

Here is my guide to making a log store from pallets.

finished log store

How do you make a garden chair from Pallet Wood?

I built one just for you… Well for me actually. Here is my guide to making a chair from pallet wood

pallet wood garden chair

Are Pallet Couches Comfortable?

What I love about making your own furniture is that you can decide on exact heights, widths and so on to make absolutely sure that your pallet project ends up the most comfortable item of furniture that you own. So, in short, yes they are comfortable.

How do you make a pallet Bed?

The simplest way is just to place some sanded pallets together on the floor. Simple but effective. The next step up is joining them together and the full monty involves rebuilding a bed using pallets as your lumber supply.

Are Pallet Beds Safe?

Absolutely they are. I slept on one for may years without problems. I hope you are enjoying this guide to pallets?

Do pallet beds creak?

Afraid to say it all depends on how much you eat. Mine creaked.

How can you build a pallet patio planter

Oh easy. Just follow my picture below. Four corner posts with walls from pallets screwed together with short deck screws is all it takes. I didn’t bother to paint the bottom boards which you can see are clearly made from pallet wood.

box planter

How do you make a Pallet wine rack?

How do you make a Pallet bar?

A pallet buster or pallet bar is a metal tool used to help take pallets apart. They are quite effective.

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About the author

Loves to learn new things and make stuff...properly. Born and living in the Thames Valley west of London, England. I have an office job during the day, but evenings and weekends are all about making.