up-cycled pallet roundup – transforming old pallets

upcycling pallets ideas

We 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.

Pinterest 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 provides information about choose pallets that haven’t been treated with chemicals (although I recommend reading the comments for more detailed information).

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 by Today's Nest | Upcycle Pallet Ideas | Frugal and Thriving

Patio table @ Today’s Nest

Pallet Crate on Wheels by My Simple Home Life | Upcycle Pallet Ideas | Frugal and Thriving

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 Farm Desk by Funky Junk Interiors | Upcycled Pallet Ideas Roundup | Frugal and Thriving

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 by Mom and Her Drill | Pallet Upcycle Round Up | Frugal and Thriving

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

ideas for upcycling pallets


  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.