Recycling pallets

     Pallets have often been considered as a great option for diy projects, a quick look on Pinterest will yield thousands of results. As such many people seem to think that finding pallets is an easy thing to do, I found the opposite to be true. Honestly the hardest part of this project was probably just finding the pallet. I work in retail, but we send all our pallets back, I thought maybe other places maybe didn't, but looking behind all the local businesses it appeared as if they were sending their pallets back as well. Which if you think about it makes complete sense, pallets have to cost money, and once they've been emptied it only makes sense to send them back so they can be reused.

     When I finally did get my pallet I tried to pull the boards off, the cross pieces, and found that the nails simply would not come out, not sure if they were spiral or ring-shank or what exactly, but those nails simply were not going to come lose. This wasn't a huge issue for my project as I was able to just use a jigsaw and cut the slats off the uprights and still get boards that were long enough. The pallet I found was actually really nice, Oak and Cherry I think, nice wood, however the surfaces weren't that smooth and several boards were warped and twisted. Fortunately my dad has all sorts of power tools and I was able to use a planner to smooth the boards out and get them to all the same thickness, this did nothing for the warping or twisted-ness of the boards, but they weren't trying to fill my hands with splinters, which was something I was told was completely unacceptable by the girl who summoned me to build this, I hope you don't mind me calling you a girl, if anybody is wondering she is older than I am, technically I should be calling her a lady or woman, but she's always been a girl to me. ;) Anyway, back on topic pallets require a lot of prep work to get them into usable condition for any sort of finished work. I guess if you are building something for the outdoors the boards would probably be find as is.

     Due to the fact that I had used a jigsaw to cut the boards off the pallet the ends weren't square on any of them, a chopsaw would have been better for fixing that, but I don't have one of those at my disposal so I used a tablesaw instead, which worked fairly well. My boards maintained a relatively consistent width, but they did vary some which is evident in the final piece.

     I had initially thought that I'd have to dowel all the boards together because I didn't think we had any tongue and groove bits, however I realized when looking at the router bits that I could use a single bit to cut the groove, and then use the same bit at a different height to cut the tongue, doing two passes of course. Due to my lack of experience my tongues and grooves didn't turn out that great, the fact that the boards were kinda warped probably doesn't help at all either, oh and not having an actual router table either. I still managed to get things to work, and because tongue and groove joints are all hidden nobody will ever know that they are not even close to being centered in the boards, or that they aren't all snug fits. Actually now everybody knows, 'cause I just told the world, tsk tsk tsk.

     To keep all the tongues and grooves from being seen, and to give more strength to the plaque thingy I decided to run a board the entire length of the top and bottom, which required some more tongue and groove joints, and the second time around I did a much better job, which I was pleased with, as this joint can be seen in the four corners.


     Finally we have a look of what things are going to look like, and some actual sizes. The boards at the top and bottom will be trimmed to length of course, but that won't be done until much later as I wanted to make sure that everything would match up, and if I happened to mess
something up I wanted to have extra material so I could correct it without needing to find myself another pallet to grab wood from.

     I know you can't see it in this image, but the faces of all the boards but two line up, I think I may have run those particular boards through the router the wrong way when I cut the groves, I guess we can't all be perfect.

     I wanted to stick with a semi-rustic look, so I'm not worried about the knots and small missing chunk in the lower left of the image, it gives character to the piece, plus it won't be hanging in my house so what do I care. :D

     After I had the backer all cut and to size it was time to start on the other parts that would mount to the back.
     This little bin, which actually isn't so little after all, measuring in at around seven inches tall, eleven-ish inches wide and about three inches deep, it's the perfect place for putting letters that need to be mailed, DVDs or books that need to be returned to the library, and also doubles as a great place to store snacks, honest, part of its design was to make sure that candy bars would neatly stack inside it's massive storage space, and not fall out between the boards. In all seriousness though this is a great place for storing anything tall and thin.

     Construction was relatively basic, I cut a board to width on the table saw and then cut it to length, and cut the taper at the bottom on the scrollsaw. The slats that run on the face were all cut on the table saw, I routed the ends first, so they'd sit back into the sides some, and then cut them to width on the table saw. A little sanding on the corners and edges to round everything off, and then glue to hold it all together. This might actually be the nicest part of the whole project.

     In addition to the bin there is a small tray that sits below the chalkboard, its design is much more basic, just three walls and a floor. Due to the simplistic nature of the construction I didn't take any pictures. All I did was rip some boards to width, routed the ends, so they'd be slightly set back, as are the slats on the bin, and then ran them through the tablesaw again to cut a groove near the bottom for the floor to sit in. Gluing the parts all together was kinda tricky, because there was nothing to keep the spacing at the top, I wanted to clamp it, but found that using clamps kept forcing things out of square, so I ended up just getting all the parts lined up correctly and then let it sit. The sides get screwed to the back of the plaque so the only thing the glue really needs to hold against is the front falling off, and the floor is set into the front wall, so it should be pretty sturdy.If it's not I guess I'll just have to add more glue.

     The corkboard sits into the back of the plaque, and to make that work I had to chunks out of four boards, two of them just needed to be ripped on the table saw as they just had straight cuts, but the two end boards need to be cut on the scrollsaw as they had a notch being cut out of them. I managed to get all the cutting done rather easily, but when I got to routing the back parts out of the boards I was meet with my first accident.
I was using a bit that cuts a quarter of an inch, and doing two passes to get the needed depth, and unfortunately the board either had a small crack in it, which I didn't notice, or the wood was just to thin to hold up against the force of the router. Either way a chunk about an inch and a half long went flying, hit something and broke in two. I spent a lot of time looking, but only was able to find half of the part, so I had to cut a small chunk of the scrap to make a little filler part. The plaque will be painted in the end, so it won't be noticeable that there are a few glue joints.

     I was meet with another accident when I was cutting the same type of a part from one of the other boards. At the top of the board there is about an inch and a half before the cork board, the grain of the wood runs up and down, so when I was cutting the groove on one of those thin peices it broke on me, rather than trying to fix it though I just cut an entirely new part, as I had all the scrap that I had cut out from where the cork board will be.

     The cork board will be held in place by two thin strips of plywood from the back side. I didn't particularly want to glue the cork directly to the frame so if at some point in the future it needs to be replaced it will be a clean removal.

     Here is an image of it nearly finished, the slightly more yellow boards on the right side represent the chalk board. Chalk boards actually are really hard to find in larger sizes. The only place I could find that carried chalk board was Walmart, and it's a back mount unit, so it will stick out on the front side, which while won't look like the unit I'm copying it will be way easier to install, as I just have to shoot a couple screws into the face of the boards and mount the chalk board right on top of that, no cutting or routing involved.

     If I was building this for me I would have stained the wood with a nice dark colored stain to bring out all the natural beauty of the wood, but as I've mentioned before, I'm building it for a friend and she wanted it painted white, with lots of flowers and hearts adorning it. I really dislike painting stuff, because it always pulls up the grain and requires multiple coats and sanding to look really nice, so I decided upon a compromise. One coat of white paint, and then I'll lightly sand it, to knock down the raise grain and expose some of the wood. It will remain mostly white, but will have some grain showing through. Hopefully it turns out okay, as I'm on a tight schedule. Actually just got the painting done yesterday, and have to sand it this morning, and screw everything together. I have pilot holes drilled in everything, so it's just a matter of putting 22 screws into place. I do have to glue the slats on the back that hold the cork board in place, and put two small spacers in the bottom corners so nothing is scratching up against the wall.

     I recorded video of many parts of the building, and at some point in the hopefully nearish future I'll get those edited together into a watchable form and put it up on my youtube channel, and then update this post with a link to the video.


     I hope you enjoyed reading about this project of mine, I have plans for sale, just kidding, though if you would like some of the measurements and stuff leave me a comment and I'll get back to you with any information you might want, though I'm giving this away today so I won't actually have it to measure, but I have a page of notes on sizes and placements of all the parts and stuff.

     I suppose I should put the finished product up here, so you can stare at it, and drool over it, and wish you had somebody to build one for you, and nope, I don't plan on building any more, far too much work and time. I'd literally have to charge like a hundred dollars to actually make any money building these.

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