The beauty of using pallets and reclaimed wood is that when we reuse and repurpose wood from old furniture or crates no longer being used, we reduce waste, while saving trees in the process.
Pallets are cheap—often free if you ask the businesses that have discarded them nicely—and there’s no way to replicate the weathered look of reclaimed wood except through the gradual passage of time. Projects using recycled wood not only help save the environment, they also bring a rustic charm to your home.
Before starting any of these projects, some prep work is needed. Reclaimed wood is often available from local sellers, and is usually cheaper than new wood. With a bit of research, you can find pallets for free, or for just a few dollars, on Craigslist or from local businesses.
Before you work with reclaimed wood
Pallets with ‘MB’ stamped on it, have been chemically treated with the fumigation staple methyl bromide, and are therefore not safe for home use. Heat-treated or kiln-dried pallets are safe, and stand up to the elements better than non-treated wood. Finally, it’s important clean and sanitise reclaimed wood. This simple process not only kills germs, but also eliminates potential slivers.
1. Picture frames
We’ll start by dipping our toes into the woodworking pool. If you can cut angles into four boards and fit them together into a rectangle, you are mostly done with this project. Glue or use metal “L” connectors and nails to keep it all together. You can cut out a small slot on the inside of the frame for the photo, or just tape the photo to the back of the frame.
Attach a wire or a picture hanger (I prefer sawtooth) to the back of the wood panels. Now you can hang your rustic, reclaimed wood picture frame to display your handiwork proudly. If you want to get fancy, make a few of these and form an interlocking gallery wall of frames.
2. Outdoor couch
While building a full L-shaped couch can be time consuming, it’s definitely not as difficult as it might seem. The base is made up of rows of stacked pallets, joined together in a corner as in the letter ‘L.’ The backrest is as simple as nailing a pallet perpendicular to the base. If you like, cut slats to size to cover the spaces between the pallet boards, and attach boards in a ‘T’ shape for armrests.
To finish off your couch, add seat cushions and throw pillows in your preferred colour and pattern combinations. Invite friends over to kick back with a few drinks, and enjoy the crisp air and clear skies from your own backyard.
3. Garden planter
For a raised planter, you have two options. Rip the pallet apart and make a box with support beams, and you have your base. Or, you can just cut the pallet down and use the shortened pallet as siding. You can fill in the pallet gaps with hay and flora, or use planter lining to stop dirt and soil from spilling out. Or, take a full pallet, line it, and use it as a vertical garden, which will also save space.
Go on and plant edible flowers and herbs to create an aesthetically pleasing, sustainable pallet garden.
4. Farmhouse picnic table
Enjoy a meal outdoors by building a farmhouse-style picnic table. Like the couch, a table takes time to do, but it’s well worth the hours spent making it. This build in particular will set you back about $150, but using pallets or reclaimed wood will bring its cost down—not to mention make it distinctly eco-friendly.
This picnic table is big enough to seat about eight people—perfect for dinner parties under the stars. It’s also easy to move indoors, should you need more seating inside. If you can find thick-enough wood, you can use the same concept to build a butcher’s block.
5. Dog bed frame
As you now have both a couch and table to sit at, it’s time to do something for your furry best friend with a dog bed frame. The frame is big enough to hold a cushion and some blankets, and is easy to move around as needed. It’s a simple project, as well—except for flourishes and a dip in the front of the frame for access, there’s a base and walls to keep a cushion in.
Need a place to store your gardening tools for your planter? Try sustainable pallet shelving. If you have a barbeque or fire pit, you can store wood or utensils on the shelves. In the kitchen, you can outfit a pantry with these shelves, perfect for wine bottles, spice bottles, or mason jars filled with those preserves you’ve just finished making.
7. Chair swings
If you have a backyard, and especially if you have a fire pit, put all your skills to the test and build a chair swing set. A store-bought single chair swing costs between $140 and $160; however, by using reclaimed wood and applying some elbow grease, you can significantly reduce the cost of installing your own circle of chair swings. Even better, you’re keeping things sustainable by reusing old wood.
Now, the chairs here require the same set of skills as crafting the couch, without the base to provide height. Though the photos at the link don’t show this, remember to anchor the wood beams into the ground with cement.
By using reclaimed wood and discarded pallets from local sources and making them part of your home, you will help reduce waste, save money, and have fantastic, highly functional furniture and art pieces that you, your family, and your house guests can use and admire for years to come.
Note: Post title image (topmost image and cover image) taken from woodenaht on Etsy via Dishfunctional Designs on Blogspot