How to Approach a Pallet Wood Project

By Joy Cronje

The latest craze in homemaking in South Africa is the revival of do-it-yourself home projects. This comes as a response to a worldwide increased awareness of the changing weather patterns and global warming caused by our irresponsible use of Earth’s resources. It is also our nation’s way of thwarting the increased financial pressure we’re all feeling because of the El-Niño drought of 2016 and the unstable political climate.

Whatever your reasons may be, re-using glass jars and bric-a-brac has become the in thing, the neo-hipster’s ideal style. Join the bearded masses and pop the collar of your chequered shirt while you sand away at a plank of pallet wood or wield that manly power tool for that new coffee table you always wanted.

You may be a talented part time carpenter who understands the inner workings of his power tools, or a mommy trying to save a few bucks with barely any knowledge of how a saw works, you may be a student dipping rusks for breakfast or a hobbyist looking for new skills to learn. Whatever your circumstances, the timing has never been better to take on a pallet wood project.

Types of Projects

Browsing the Web you’ll find thousands of ideas for what to make, from simple shelving projects where the pallet needs barely more than a coat of paint to the more elaborate projects like building your own garden gazebo. The point is to build something you need in your home, something suited to your level of skill.

In some cases there will be a learning curve, as with most things in life, but in our current digitized world finding resources out there to help you become a pro at working with pallet wood should be a breeze. Below we’ll look at a few tips and tricks common to many of the projects you could end up trying.

Tips and Tricks

Inspect the wood before taking it, as some of it won’t be workable for your project. If it looks oily and stained or if it smells funny and looks dodgy in general, give it a miss. Heavy pieces and pieces with too many twisted nails could also complicate the job, so choose other pieces over these kinds.

Wear gloves. Getting a splinter or cut from a rusty nail isn’t all that far-fetched, so avoid the hospital and the pain and make sure your hands are protected.

Clean the pallet wood thoroughly with bleach and warm soapy water to get rid of as much bacteria as possible. Unfortunately because wood is porous you can never guarantee it is a hundred percent safe, so avoid using pallets in projects like spice racks or food gardens and for baby furniture like bassinets and wooden toys.

Wear safety glasses and a dust mask when sanding or sawing, and remember to follow standard woodworking safety precautions.

Store the wood without the nails. The nails complicate the job and are extremely dangerous. The sooner you get rid of them, the better.

Make sure you’ve got all the right equipment for the job. If you’re going to build a coffee table or gazebo, you’ll need a clean workspace, power tools, and other hand tools (If you’re wondering which tools you’ll need, it’s best to follow a step-by-step guide which you can easily find online). If, however, you’re going for the simpler project, paint and primer could be the summary of your needs.

Finish your projects off with varnish and the smaller finishing touches that make it unique.

CBJ April 2016financial_track