What is Reclaimed wood furniture?
Pallet projects, in every possible form, were early guests to the DIY party and have stayed around ever since. Using them for the reclaimed wood certainly has its risks (more on that later), but you can't beat the price (which is usually free). Here’s a guide to everything you need to know: finding, choosing, cleaning, and breaking down one for use. Once you know the what's what, you can decide for yourself if they are worth the effort.
How to Find Pallets for Free
Tons of businesses get shipments that are packed on wooden pallets. If you are driving around, or know of nearby building supply or liquor stores, take a peek around back to see if you see any around. Then, just ask someone nicely if they plan on using them (but hey, no stealing y’all). There are so many out there in the world, chances are good that some stores or warehouse will be happy to give them away. If, for some reason, you are having a hard time getting your hands on them, try the free section of Craigslist. I regularly see people trying to get rid of them there.
How to Choose the Best Pallets
Pallets come with questionable histories; you’ll never know what they were used for, and where they’ve been. We’ve talked about some the inherent dangers of using them before, so you’ve probably know that pallets are often treated with chemicals — the type you don’t want anywhere near you or your children, or in your house. They are also often breeding grounds for mold, insects, and bacteria.
If you don’t care, or are feeling lucky (punk), look for pallets that are the safest to reuse. Don’t just grab the first one you see...
- Avoid the ones you see at grocery stores, as they are more prone to food spillage. Bacteria (even if you can't see it) and porous wood make for bad bedfellows.
- Make sure the wood is in decent shape. You’’ll probably lose some boards while tearing it apart, so start off with as many as possible that aren’t cracked, bowed, or warped.
- Look at the nails used. If they are particularly twisted, they might be even harder to remove. Decide if it's worth the work.
- Inspect it for gross residue, oil stains, or mold. The same goes for smells.
- Avoid the ones that have been sitting out in the rain for months.
How to Clean and Disinfect Pallets
If you own a power washer, this is a good time to use it. Scrub the wood with soapy water (and some bleach if you like). Rinse it down well, and allow to completely dry. There's no real way to know if you are taking care of all of the bad stuff, so it's best not to use pallet wood for projects used near food or the kiddos. Some folks won't even bring it in the house, and reserve this type of wood for outdoor furniture. Again, it's up to you.
How to Dismantle a Pallet
First you’ll have to break your pallet down and remove all the nails to get it ready for use. Everyone has their favorite method for doing this, so choose which you like best and which suits your needs. No matter what, wear gloves for splinters, safety glasses, and a dust mask to protect yourself from everything I mentioned above!