Are you planning to make your own garden furniture or your bed by yourself with awesome wooden pallets but you don’t know where find it?
People are getting into DIY plans more and more these days, and among the most popular DIY topics on the Internet are pallet projects.
In this guide, I will try my best to pave the way for anyone who is getting started with pallets. I also have some issues and questions that come up frequently in anyone’s mind. Whatever you want to do with the pallets, it is good to have some basics.
This will allow you to progress faster, safely, and avoiding many mistakes. If I had followed these basics a few years ago and had not started directly without guiding.
I can tell you that I would have saved a lot of time, effort and money.
This very short guide will not give you all the basics needed to start working with the pallets. It will only aim to answer a specific question that I am being asked very often:
Where can I get free pallets?
Let’s start from a simple observation: pallets are used to transport goods and for storage as well. From Therefore, all businesses and companies that are provided with merchandise will have pallets they no longer need, actually, they have MILLIONS of pallets that are being thrown away. So, it is our turn to get it to create awesome stuff.
Shops and small stores
Guess what!, the first way to collect some pallets will be to ask the shops next to you (Think of printing shops, appliance stores, furniture stores, grocery stores, decoration stores, pet stores, clothing stores, wine stores, etc.).
You see pallets stacked near a wall or at the bottom of a yard? So do not hesitate to enter and ask if you can take some of them. I do it very often, and I’ve always been well received.
These stores receive their products on wooden pallets. If these pallets were used many times, the storeowners decide to throw it away or store it until they know what to do with them.
Do not hesitate to ask if you can take some, because companies will be happy that you get rid of it, you will probably do a favor for the storeowners, as they will not have to go to throw them or to pay to have them removed.
Some tips, however, to put the odds on your side:
Let’s say you do not know where to start or you do not want to go around the companies or shops in your city, so go to the industrial areas.
These areas are all full of factories and warehouses, therefore, the best place to find pallets.
By going there, I’m pretty sure you will not leave empty-handed.
Try to go to the transportation, freight and shipping companies.
These companies have warehouses that are literally full of pallets that they want to get rid of, and they will not hesitate to give you some.
DIY and Construction Stores
You can also go around stores that sell construction tools and materials for building. You will mainly find pallets, which are used to transport materials such as blocks, bricks, tiles, sandbags or cement (the latter called “cement pallets”).
Some of these stores have a corner where they leave the pallets they do not need anymore, just to make you happy.
Another good option is the construction sites. The building materials are brought to these sites on pallets. Do not hesitate to ask the workers, at the lunch break or at the end of the day, if they have some pallets that they would get rid of, especially if you see some of it piled up in a corner.
You will certainly find some pallets waiting for you.
Who knows, you can even leave with some reusable wood pieces for your projects, in addition to some pallets too.
A small tip before you go to the construction sites: wear appropriate work clothes (At least a pair of safety shoes and a yellow vest). You may not allowed getting a permission to enter the site if you don’t do so!
Smaller sites such as houses under construction are often more accessible.
On the street
For those who are good at observing things, it is also possible to collect pallets from the streets. By keeping an eye open, it is not difficult to find one or two pallets stacked on the sidewalk or leaning against a trash can.
Ads on the internet
If, despite everything, you couldn’t find your pallets, it’s because you might not searched enough. For the most lazy persons like me :), it is possible to find ads on the internet (on sites specializing in trade or sales between individuals like Ebay or craigslist) some people who are ready to sell pallets for extremely cheap prices or even for free.
I think you now know how to get pallets nearly for free, in this part on pallets collecting; I will give you some practical tips.
Be careful when transporting pallets, remember that they are rough, they often have nails, or splinters, and so be very careful when handling them.
The pallets are heavy and relatively large. If you want to get many of them, it is obvious that it is better to come with a trailer, or a car that has a large trunk.
If you plan to do it all on foot, so good luck with that :)!
Secondly, it is better to take some tools with you when you are looking for these pallets. That is because you may want to disassemble some components of a pallet to get it into the trunk of the car. Believe me, from my experience, it is not an easy task!
Here is a small list of tools that I always have in my car when I collect pallets:
- Safety shoes and protective gloves
- Hand saw or reciprocating saw (Must have)
- Strapping tensioner & straps.
Note: I emphasize the importance of bringing straps or Strapping tensioner.
Simply, you do not to want to do like me and tie the pallets with the rear seat belt of my car…
Believe me, you won’t feel good to be alone in these moments!
Pallet Treatment Codes - How to Choose Pallets.
It is a really good idea that you want make your own pallet furniture or make a DIY garden out of pallets. However, you must be careful not to put your health at risk! Indeed, the wood used to make the pallets is sometimes treated to improve its resistance or its life span with some chemical processes and components, which can be toxic.
The codes that are stamped on the pallets refer to the method of treatment that have been used on the pallets.
Note: In the US, we have nearly 510 million wooden pallets being used and 341 million wood pallets are being manufactured yearly. The raw materials used are poplar, spruce, Douglas fir, sylvan or maritime pine. The last three types of wood are rot-resistant wood.
Unstamped or DB stamp (Debarked Pallets)
Unstamped pallets or pallets with DB stamp are used to transport goods within the country. There is no particular rule regarding their size, but the most common sizes are 80 x 120 cm, 100 x 120 cm, 60 x 80 cm.
If there is no stamp on the pallet it means that it has not undergone any treatment. It is therefore raw wood. They are light and generally used for a one-time use. They’re not toxic but the wood can quickly deteriorate.
These pallets are used for different loads; the strongest type is the “cement pallets”. They are made of fir, spruce or pine and are intended for the transport of heavy materials used on construction sites like: bricks, breeze blocks, bags of cement, lime or sand.
According to the manufacturing standards, these pallets must be made of wood free of defects and have a moisture content of less than 25%.
DB pallets are raw wood from which the bark has been removed and which has not undergone any treatment. They are therefore usable without risk.
Euro-pallet or EPAL-pallet (EUR EPAL)
Excellent resistance and non-toxic, they are perfect for all your DIY projects!
The Europe pallets are generally 80 cm x 120 cm . These pallets are approved by the EPAL (European Association of Pallets) and manufactured of high quality wood.
These pallets support loads up to 1,200 kg (equally distributed on the surface) and generally cost 20 to 30 $ depending on the desired quantities. Euro-pallets are used for the transport of goods abroad.
These pallets are the easiest to find. They are mainly made of maritime pine or poplar wood. It complies with ISPM 15 regulations (International Standards for Phytosanitary Measures).
Euro-pallets must be treated to prevent the spread of insects or fungi. The European Union only allows heat treatment. The abbreviation HT is for Heat Treatment. This treatment consists of heating the wood at 56 ° C for 30 minutes then drying the pallets for 1 to 2 days to reach 22% of maximum humidity (it is not a cooking recipe).
This process removes up to 8 liters of water per pallet. The benefits of this treatment are many as they become non-toxic and non-polluting, and strengthens the wood.
NOTE: A pallet may have two codes at the same time like “HT DB” which means that the pallet has undergone heat treatment (HT) and the wood from which the pallet is made is debarked.
Toxic pallets: watch out for methyl bromide
If a pallet has the code MB, it means that it has been treated by methyl bromide. This highly toxic compound, used in the past in the processing of fruits, vegetables and packaging, has been banned from use since March 18, 2010.
All the risks related to Methyl Bromide have been referenced by the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention).
It is rare now to find these pallets. But be careful because these pallets can carry the code EUR EPAL with the code MB which is not enough as a guarantee of quality and safety. The pallets that you want must not have the code MB.
Colored palettes can be very toxic. Even if you like their appearance, it is better to avoid them.
Never go for MB or colored pallets
Now, you have no excuses now for not going to get these great palettes. The next step is to clean and prepare those pallets for our project.
You will find many creative ideas and tips to create your first project on Power Saw Expert. I hope you found this article useful and feel free to share it with your friends.