How can I reuse or recycle wooden pallets?

wooden palletI always thought wooden transport pallets were one of those things that were reused ad infinitum – or at least until they fall apart – because of those “pallets wanted” signs around industrial-type estates near motorway or, say, the docks in Liverpool (somewhere we frequent more than most people because ooh! cool industrial stuff!). But lately, I’ve started to see them dumped around various places, suggesting it’s not worth people’s bother to take them to one of those “wanted” place.

(Tsk, people, eh? The worst is the dozen or so I saw dumped down the road from us last night – one road down from a household waste site. I guess they either didn’t want to wait for it to open, didn’t want to have to pay to leave them there or didn’t want to find somewhere to take them for reuse even though they clearly had a truck to get them there in the first place. Grr.)

Anyway, reusing them. John’s dad reclaimed the wood from a couple of old pallets to make a fence for his brother’s garden. I’ve also heard about cleaner, nicer ones being spruced up a bit (sanded to remove the roughest bits and varnished) to make a futon base.

Any other suggestions?

(Photo by Gastonmag)

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55 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle wooden pallets?”

  1. Bellen says:

    There is a young man in Colorado who commercially makes fine furniture from pallets. He is so good a chain hotel hired to make over 300 end tables for their hotel in Philadelphia.
    If you look at the wood from the pallet as just short lengths of wood, NOT a pallet, I’m sure anyone can come up with a myriad of ideas. Oh yes, don’t forget shipping crates, like those used for motorcycles, they have longer pieces of wood.

    • Andrew says:

      Do you have a contact for this colorado person? I have very large oak kilm dried pallets 175 lbs each. I would like to reuse.

  2. Delusion says:

    Compost bins, prise of the slats make a box for dumping veggie waste, leaves etc.

    Raised beds?

  3. Bobbie says:

    Most of these pallets are made from really good wood as they have to be super strong. They are woods you’d pay an arm for if you had to buy them.

  4. Peg says:

    I have seen patterns in a book on how to make a tool shed, play house, etc out of the wooden pallets. My husband and I heat our house with wood, and stack our wood on the flat pallets. It keeps the wood dry and up off the ground.

  5. Joanna says:

    We’ve just had a woodburning stove delivered here, and it came on a pallet. We’re chopping it small for kindling – it’s not good enough to burn in larger chunks, but it will be great for kindling as it isn’t planed smooth


    • yank says:

      It’s not a good idea to burn the pallets because most have been treated with toxic chemicals to prevent rot.

      • Anonymous says:

        Who told you that? I work at a pallet mill and no chemicals are used unless the customer specifies and the chemicals are not for rot they are for bugs and fire retardant.

  6. Tamara says:

    really? people trash them?

    i work at a grocery store… our pallets look soooo old… like weathered old barn… lol.

    i think shelves. or building a shelving unit.

  7. Lynsey says:

    We have some in our cellar to keep our things off the floor as it’s slightly damp. My father in law has a leaf bin in his garden made out of them.

  8. I’ve used them to make monster recycling bins. Painted with wood preserver they look just as good as a commercial bin that would cost 60+ pounds. I use three pallets for the rear and sides, and then build the front so that 9in timbers can be slotted in as the pile builds. We’ve got three bins sat next to each other to enable compost to be cycled as it matures. Thanks, Stephen

  9. Alice says:

    I’ve used pallet wood for CD shelving. Used bog standard (cheap) metal brackets, painted them, stuck them on so the shelves are about an inch away from the wall, and the CDs overhang the shelf by about another inch. Looks really good and uncluttered.

  10. Marty says:

    Put an ad in one of your local papers. Or on Craigslist. Most offer free come and get it ads.
    Here in Rochester, NY I get around 6 per week at our store. We try to save them to return to our distributor. But there are guys that will gladly come and get them to be sold back to pallet reclaimers. Some of the pallets we get we have to pay a deposit on the be sure we send them back.

  11. Matt says:

    Take a look at these sites….
    I am going to be making the planters for next year….

  12. Anita says:

    I just saw this today on tipnut…a how-to turn a pallet into a coffee table!

  13. yank says:

    I am building a shed/chicken coop out of pallets for the walls and floor fastened together with 4×4 which fit perfectly with a standard pallet, I got the idea from a design firm which has suggested that refugee housing can be built with the pallets that have brought in supplies.

  14. MattO says:

    I built a storage shed with roof – originally thinking I’d use it to store firewood (cracks in the pallet boards good for air circulation.

    However, once it was done, it was tall enough I added a shelf about head-high to store scrap lumber and now store my lawn tractor, roto-tiller and edger inside instead.

    I had found the same link as Yank posted above and used it as my inspiration.

    I also use hardwood oak pallets as firewood for a firepot on our back deck.

  15. David says:

    Umm… Hardwood floors anyone? You would have to plane the top surface. Then, put a tongue and groove edge on these short boards, match widths, nail them down and you have a very nice floor. Just a thought.

    • Amberlyn says:

      hi you said woodfloors?
      my husband and i are trying to find a site where they give directions on how to do this we wanta rustic charm look for the kitchen. can you help with a site or your own directions thank you


  16. Pylon says:

    Make a home out of them – seriously. Obviously other “waste” materials have to be used as well, but if you go to you will see what can be done with these very useful things.

    And if they are broken then they can be burnt – the smell is just sap from the (almost always) spruce timber.

  17. karl says:

    I’ve used pallets for a multitude of projects. I built my wood crib out of a few longer ones (about 6 feet) which I have no idea what they were made for but they had been discarded. This saved me over a $100 in wood alone.

    I hate it when people burn them for a camp fire, there’s always alot of nails left on the ground which my tires seem to find.

  18. Pallets says:

    Make it a chair!

  19. Sandra Mucciardi says:


  20. Andrew says:

    Anyone interested in seting up use for 175 lbs oak kilm dried pallets please contact. Solid, non damaged and 4×4 runners. 6 by 4 ft. We have 220 on-hand and can supply 20 per week, will sasve for truck loads. A waste to make firewood out of unless someone wishes to purchase cheap. 145 new to purchase. looking for something around 25 each.

  21. saladmander says:

    well, I was thinking possibly ,If you put wheels on the bottom it could be a very nice little cart for wheeling heavy things around.

  22. margaret says:

    i made a garden table and chairs out of pallets and they are still in good condition years later. they also make good garden planters if you line them with old polythene.

  23. margaret says:

    can anyone come up with a good irrigation system for garden planters for using as little water as possible?

    • Karen says:

      Rain chains. Make a rain chain and attach to a gutter. Attach a reyclyed hose or any other tubing to the very bottom. Run the tubing into the dirt in the planter. When it rains, the rain in the gutter will be directed into the planter and the rain itself will water from the top.

  24. I have totes and barrels – please contact me

  25. CCD says:

    I use them for stalls in the barn. Screw them together, and they make a nice wall. I also lay them on the floor for the hay. I have made a hay rack, but that idea needs some work. I tried a round pen, but that needs work too. I plan to lay them on the floor so the animals won’t get their feet wet.

  26. Russell v says:

    i have a number of blue pallets dose this mean any thing i have been told that these are least out to firms but not shore can any one shine any light on this i do ask the driver when i have stuff delivered to take back but they say i am not meant to take back with me thank you

  27. mary jo gomes says:

    the boards ao those things are often very good wood, not just white pine, does that help a little?

  28. Kate says:

    I can’t seem to find the link now, but I remember seeing something from either Readymade or Instructables for a wood pallet bike stand- propped up vertically with the front tires slid into the open slats. I’m considering doing it at my house- my boyfriend’s a cyclist and has 4 bikes of his own, plus my one bike, geeze.

  29. john b says:

    I used an old pallet and a wardrobe from a skip to build nesting boxes for our chickens.

  30. Don D says:

    I have a 4000 dollar special saw that cuts pallets and I sell the wood for firewood and I have cut up approximately 35000 pallets…Look at the wood and trees saved….and NO. ….pallets are NOT TREATED to prevent rot….at least the ones i get from the paper and food industry

  31. Nigel says:

    I recently made a nice hard wood chair from a pallet [they are normally made from a cheap hardwood]also a cover in the style of a beehive to hide my pond filter and a tray to cover my drain access which sits in a raised garden and is then filled with woodchip to disquise.Very good for many garden applications as it will take many years to rot.

  32. andy bales says:

    i remove and recycle pallets in the sheffield area if you need any removing please contact me

  33. I have a wooden crate of 8ft x 8 ft x 3 ft. can you recycle that crate?
    Please reply me as soon as you can

  34. andy bales says:

    hi thank you for the offer but i only recycle pallets

  35. patrick hall says:

    Hi I recycle pallets and would be happy to take any 40×48 or euro pallets in the essex area.

  36. Savvas P says:

    Hi guys, you might be interested in this pallet dismantling video:

    Its a good way to get rid of all the nails from the timber allowing for the material to be planed or even put in a thicknesser.

  37. nathan says:

    These guys offer a free collection service for all pallets , nationwide UK

    Visit their website ,

    I ve been using them for years and they have never let me down!


  38. Cargo Cycles says:

    I manufacture and sell Pallet Reclamation Bars. Designed to dismantle 2 way and 4 way pallets.

    See a short video of the bar in action:

  39. What are the most wanted pallets? We recycle pallets. The “pallets wanted” signs i see in classified sections do not state the wanted pallet sizes.

  40. Wood is the natural product. The pallets are the byproduct using wood that is strong and durable. It can be recycled and used easily.

  41. I visit Liverpool a lot too! Not the industrial side of it though, see a bit of that from the train. Liverpool One is my local haunt!

    The annoying thing for us is that we’ll come and collect people’s unwanted pallets for free. All it takes is a quick call. Even pallets which look beyond repair are still useful for us.

    The best use for them I’ve seen recently is quite a large treehouse, complete with a lift! You stand on the pallet and hoist yourself up to the treehouse! Brilliant!

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