How to Make Pallet Furniture

Pallet furnitureAs we’re spending more time at home, many of us have been starting DIY and upcycling projects to refresh our homes. One trend is to create unique pieces of furniture made out of wooden pallets.

Pallet shelfWhy make pallet furniture?

  • It’s a great way to upcycle and re-use wood
  • It’s very cost effective
  • Pallets are large and sturdy
  • They can be made into various items, such as beds, shelves and outdoor seats

How to make pallet furniture step by step:

1. Finding wooden pallets

A lot of the time local builders and warehouses have wooden pallets going spare, so it’s worth asking. You may be wondering ‘Is it safe to use pallets for furniture?’ Pallets can be exposed to spills of hazardous liquids during transportation, making them unsafe to use.

For example, the National Consumers League (NCL) tested shipping pallets used to transport food and found that 10% of wooden pallets tested contained E.coli and 4% contained listeria*. Therefore, check your pallet is stain-free and has no stamp or marking. You can also clean and disinfect your pallet with a power washer and allow it to completely dry before working on it.

2. Dismantling a pallet

The next step is carefully dismantling a pallet into useable pieces, whilst making sure you don’t split or break the wood. To help avoid this, don’t cut near any holes, splits or cracks, as this increases the likelihood of the wood splitting or breaking when the wood shrinks over time.

Dismantling palletKey tools you’ll need:

  • PPE including safety glasses, gloves and dust mask
  • Reciprocating saw with a 12” demolition or bi-metal blade – ideal for awkward angles
  • Alternatively, use a cross cut hand saw
  • Hammer or pry bar to break apart a pallet without damaging the wood surface
  • Nail punch for stubborn ring or screw nails

​​3. Pallet preparation

This is an essential step in order to get rid of any splinters and rugged edges. It’s best to carry out any sanding outside, where possible, or in a well ventilated area and use dust sheets.To sand wood pallets, use sanding sheets or rolls in a medium grit (e.g. 80) to remove any rugged edges, and work up the grit size to achieve a smooth finish. Take a look at our reference chart to find the correct grit.

To sand wood pallets, use sanding sheets or rolls in a medium grit (e.g. 80) to remove any rugged edges, and work up the grit size to achieve a smooth finish. Take a look at our reference chart to find the correct grit.

Sanding palletMake sure to sand in the direction of the wood grain to avoid any obvious scratches when it comes to finishing it off with any paint, stain or varnish afterwards. Steer clear of sanding near any holes, splits or cracks to avoid breaking the wood. Read more tips on sanding by hand.

Recommended ranges:

Liberty Green – features premium aluminium oxide that is non-clogging, to make those tough sanding jobs, easier and faster.

Superflex - features a durable J-weight backing cloth for extra flexibility and is perfect for hard-to-reach areas and crevices.

General Purpose – constructed with aluminium oxide grains and is ideal for small sanding jobs, such as a pallet shelf.

4. Pallet furniture treatment 

You may be considering what to treat pallet furniture with. This depends on where it’s being used and the overall look you’re going for. If you’re planning to make garden furniture from pallets, it will need to be weather-proofed by finishing it off with oil, wax or a deck sealer to ensure its durability outdoors.

If you want to see the grain of the wood, use a wood stain and a clear top coat to protect the wood from water damage and scratches. If you simply want to provide a protective coat, use a varnish stain, whereas a coloured stain will add colour to the piece. Alternatively, if you don’t want to see the grain and would like to match the furniture to other pieces in your home, painting would be a good option.If you want to add character for a more rustic look, only apply one light coat of paint and use a finer sandpaper (e.g. a grit of 120-140), to allow some of the wood grain to show back through.

Recommended ranges:

Liberty Green – provides a consistent scratch pattern and will not clog when sanding paint, varnish or stain.

Between Coats - the premium aluminium oxide will not clog and is designed to provide the smoothest and perfect finish when sanding between coats of paint, varnish or stain.

Superflex - features a durable J-weight backing cloth, which can be torn neatly into strips, to help sand those hard-to-reach areas and crevices.

Start making pallet furniture

Now you know how to make pallet furniture, use our distributor locator to see where you can buy our sanding sheets and rolls to help make your DIY pallet furniture. Some ideas to get you started include a picnic bench, seating, bed frames, shelves, bookcases or a child’s mud kitchen. The possibilities are endless!

For more information, get in touch.


pallet bed