up-cycled pallet roundup – transforming old pallets

coffee-table esprit cabaneWe were at the garbage tip a few weeks ago when we came across a HUGE mountain of discarded wood and a big sign, written in angry red paint that said ‘NO SCAVENGING ALLOWED.’

It was a travesty to drive away without bringing home at least as much as what we were leaving behind (which was garden waste, by the way. At least they turn that into mulch, which we can then buy back ;) ).

In that mound there were old fence palings, hundreds of pallets, old wardrobes, broken tables and all sorts of assorted wood pieces, just waiting to be reclaimed and tended to with a little TLC.

DH is pretty handy with woodworking, he has made a few tables and furniture pieces in the past, and my mind was racing at all the lovely new furniture we could have in our home, knocked up from a few old (and free) bits of scavenged wood.

Google doesn’t help matters.

I’ve spent hours drooling over repurposed furniture. I thought I would share some of what I’ve come across. Many of these links aren’t tutorials, but pictures of what people have built, meant to inspire rather than instruct.

Apparently, upcycling pallets was all the rage a while back. Seems I’m behind the trend. Oh well. Here are some instructions on how to handle pallet wood, and this is a YouTube video explaining how to work around the nails. And to be on the safe side, this article warns against using pallet wood.

garden work table
Garden work table @ Root Simple
Instructables vegetable planter
Garden Planter @ Instructables
potting bench grow damnit
Potting bench @ Grow Damnit!
pallete table
Pallet table @ Pierson Park Community Garden
compost bin
Compost Bin @ Landscape + garden Design
patio table
Patio table @ Today’s Nest
pallet crate on wheels simple home life
Crate on wheels @ My Simple Home Life
coffee-table esprit cabane
Coffee table @ Esprit Cabane
day bed
Day bed @ Casa Sugar

Pallet bench @ Design Sponge
pallet headboard
Pallet headboard @ Lovely Crafty Home
Painted pallet coffee table @ MAKE
pallet book shelf
Pallet book shelf @ Relic Interiors
MAKE video
Pallet chair (video) @  MAKE
kids bookshelves
Kid’s bookshelves @ Little Lucy Lu
plate rack
Plate rack @ Apartment Therapy Re-Nest
Pallet work desk @ Funky Junk Interiors
chalkboard shelf
Chalkboard shelf @ Too Much Time on My Hands
Mini Pantry @ The Creative Collage
coffee table
Coffee table @ noe pa hjertet
dining table
Dining table with instructions @ Re-Nest
pallet garden
Pallet garden @ Life on the Balcony
pallet wall
Pallet feature wall @ Mom and Her Drill
pallet reading bed
Pallet reading bed @ Ashely Ann Photography
wood planter
Pallet planter @ Esprit Cabane
Pallet chairs @ Materialicious
rocking chair
Pallet rocker @ Instrucables


  1. Sharon says

    Hi Melissa,

    Seems a shame to waste good ‘stuff’. Our tip here sells lots of ‘stuff’ through a shop on site run by a local charity. By the way you are very on trend with your ideas on recycling pallets. One of the couples on the television show ‘The Block’ used pallets as a bed base in one of their rooms. :)

  2. says

    So what are your thoughts re the risks??? I’d been planning on doing stuff like this for a while, but now I’m a little freaked! The ecoli etc is no biggy for me, but the formaldehyde et all is a bit freaky!

  3. says

    Hi Sharon, I saw The Block, I think that must be where I got the idea for this round up, although that didn’t occur to me at the time :)

    Hi Mel, all imported pallets are required to be treated according to this website, http://www.daff.gov.au/aqis/import/timber/ispm-15-faq#treatments, from what I understand, it is best to look for local pallets (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australia_Standard_Pallets). As far as I know, local pallets aren’t treated, the Mom with a Drill link (pallet wall) mentions this is so in the US.

    As a side note to your question (not meaning to freak you out or anything), I’ve read that particle board found in most furniture is also treated with formaldehyde (although I read somewhere else that this practice is being phased out) so a lot of new furniture and flat-pack installations potentially have formaldehyde. I have also read that there is also a common ingredient in skin care products (I can’t remember which one, sorry) that turns into formeldehyde one a celular level, once it enters the body via absorbtion in the skin. Why our houses can be more toxic than outside.

    • Glynda says

      It is true that particle board is treated with chemicals as well and I have smelled certain furniture items that is unpleasant. Is that the same thing?

  4. Glynda says

    I was all excited about all the ideas I have seen on pallets lately (I am way behind the times) however, now that I see these warnings, which make sense I am not quiet as excited. I am thinking that perhaps they would be okay for yard projects but perhaps not so great for indoor use. I would was already concerned about splinters and nails and pulling the wood apart, and maybe I will find another way to get wood as opposed to pallets. Hmmm….point to ponder. Thanks for the heads up.