Commercial goods typically arrive at retail stores packed on wooden pallets. Some companies require the pallets to be sent back, while some factor the cost of the pallets into the price of the goods they carry. Many pallets are simply discarded. About 150 million pallets find their way into landfills every year. Perhaps it's time to re-use and recycle pallets, and consider all the projects, buildings and functional items people now create from them. One tip: since the length and thickness of pallet boards may vary slightly, measure them before beginning any project to avoid mistakes.
A pallet fence is much like a picket fence, only it costs a fraction of what lumber from the lumberyard would cost. Once you figure out how many pallets you need for your fence, remove the boards from one side pallet. To prevent decay, treat the post boards first. Once the posts are in the ground, place and secure the pre-nailed pallets between them.
Compost bins are easy to make using pallets. Use entire pallets "as is," attaching them at the corners for a strong, sturdy compost bin of any size. Some people even create chicken tractors and coops with pallet boards.
Use the individual boards of pallets as floors and walls to build a tree house. Some pallets have thicker oak or hickory supports that make great joists for tree houses.
Pallet boards are a convenient length to build window planters. Once the planter is lined with heavy garden plastic and decorated with paint or chalk labels, identifying indoor or outdoor plants becomes easy.
End tables, coffee tables and shelves are just a few of the indoor projects that people have made using pallet wood. Crafters who use pallets adopt the philosophy that "a pallet is a table waiting to be built." Adding hardware such as metal slides, hinges and knobs, tables can have a drawer, door or a hidden compartment.
By sanding the project and staining or painting it before assembly, projects made with pallets will have a professional look. Older, weather-worn pallets provide the raw material for primitive crafts including birdhouses, benches and plank paintings.
Making musical instruments is a challenge--and making one from pallet wood is very challenging--but in 2001, Michigan resident John S. Sargent made his first acoustic guitar in his garage using pallet wood.
With a few specialty tools, such as a router and a miter saw, pallet boards can be crafted into beehives, pie keeps and reproductions of antique furniture like sideboards and hutches.
Tackling larger projects such as outbuildings or sheds will require more tools and some do-it-yourself instruction books, unless the builder possesses some basic construction skills already. Still, it is possible to build a nice shed for pennies on the dollar using pallet boards.