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Tips On Preparing A Pallet For An Upcycling Project

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Wooden pallets can be made into hundreds of different things from shabby chic headboards to stylish coffee tables. But how do you prepare a rough pallet for its transformation?

How to prepare a wooden pallet for an upcycling project

When sourcing a pallet for an upcycling project, always choose a reputable supplier of recycled pallets to obtain your pallet from. Alternatively, look for pallets that have been used for storing animal feed, fruit or plants. This way you can be reasonably confident that the pallets won't contain any residue of toxic chemicals, which could be harmful to you when you work on them.

Some wood is treated with potentially harmful insecticide too, so be sure to ask your supplier to confirm the origins of your pallet. If you have a pallet and you're not sure about its source, have a look around it for export markings. Pallets often have a stamp on them showing where they came from, together with information concerning any wood treatment that has been applied.

A local pallet recycling company will be able to interpret these markings for you.

  1. Begin by using a pry bar resting over a block of wood to pry apart the pallet without inflicting damage to the surface of the wood.  
  2. When the pallet planks have been loosened, the nail shanks will be exposed. Use a hacksaw or oscillating tool to cut through the nails.  
  3. Remove any remaining nails by using a nail punch to push stray nails through the wood. Don't try to pull them out, as this could split the planks.  
  4. Remove any serious splinters from the wood by making a quick pass with a wood planer, and then go over the wood with coarse grain sandpaper to make it smoother.  
  5. Now use a natural beeswax finishing product to make the wood smooth, whilst keeping its natural colour and patina. Use a rag to apply the beeswax and allow it to dry. When dry, buff the wax to a dull shine using a clean duster.

Your wooden pallet is now prepped and ready for action. You can now begin to cut and shape the pallet according to the project you're starting.

When cutting the planks, avoid making cuts close to nail holes or splits in the wood. The wood will shrink slightly as it ages, and it's therefore more likely to break or split if you cut near a spot that is already weakened.

For more information, contact companies like Smart Pallets.