Upcycling is a hot trend right now because not only does it reduce waste destined for the dump, it also repurposes that trash to become someone's treasure. Take for example the case of wood pallets that so many businesses discard. Instead of sending them directly to the global garbage stream, they could take on better and brighter lives as home furniture. You just need to seek them out and you will have endless supply of materials for your next wood-based project. All you need is a bit of creativity, adequate woodworking and wood-treating tools and a lot of patience and you will have a lounger or a swing day bed in no time.
But first, where do you find wood pallets?
Wood pallets are easily sourced from small businesses and construction companies who may not have the resources or system in place to efficiently deal with this 'trash.' Unlike bigger companies which use more pallets and therefore process them in bulk after their first use, smaller ones are less likely to devote limited company resources to deal with their post-consumer waste. Speak to them early or late in the day when they are no longer busy dealing with customers, and you may just have found a steady supplier of materials for your woodworking project. Let them know what project you need the pallet for, and they will likely be more than willing to let you cart off as many as you need.
Bu not because you can often get them for free means you can use anything you pick up from the curb. Be choosy with the pallets you use. International shipping protocols require pallets to be treated so they don't carry any pest with them from their port of origin. There are two kinds of treatment: by heat and by chemicals. When choosing pallets for any home furniture project especially one that will come in close contact with food such as coffee table, choose a pallet that is labeled 'HT' which stands for 'heat-treated.'
This labeling is in accordance with international regulatory bodies that make sure wooden pallets shipped overseas do not carry invasive insect species or plant disease. The one doing this oversight is the International Plant Protection Convention, and their seal of approval is labelled with ‘IPPC.’
It is of course important that the pallets you choose are those that look clean and have no stains or liquid marks on them. If you come across colored pallets, skip those, as those are typically used for chemicals. So for wood pallets that are safest to use in home furniture projects, look for ones that are marked 'IPPC' and 'HT.'
After taking apart the pallets and getting them ready for the project, use appropriate stain removers, wood cleaners, exterior stains and coatings to make them look even better. Check the wood treatment products that you apply and be sure they are safe to use in projects that will come in close contact with food.
So what can you make out of wood pallets? A lot, in fact! Start with the easy-to-do coffee table, loungers, wine, spice and shoe racks, wood signs and fences, and then move to more ambitious projects like work desk, bed frame and swing day beds. Not only will you have helped reduced trash, you will also have made a very profitable hobby should you decide to take it in that direction.