There are many other neat things to do with pallets

Other Uses for Pallets

by Debra Karplus

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You've probably seen them under stacks of new produce at the supermarket, or outside propped against a dumpster in the back of the discount store. You never had any reason to pay heed to pallets, or skids as they are sometimes called. Pallets can usually be found free all over town and stores are generally eager to have you haul them away. Small pallets will fit nicely in the backseat or trunk of a compact car. (I drive a Honda Civic, so I know!)

Pallets are built and designed to be flat transport structures. Usually they are made of wood. Those made of softwoods like pine are cheaper to manufacture than those made from hardwoods like oak, which are far more durable. After a while, pallets become too damaged to be used commercially or for industry. That's good news for you, the consumer, because there are numerous uses around the house for discarded pallets.

What are some uses for free discarded pallets?

Bob Taylor of Taylor Guitars, which uses pallets to manufacture some of their guitars, says of these musical instruments, "The original Pallet Guitar was made for fun and to prove a point. The point was proven: We can work with non-traditional wood and still make a great guitar." It's not likely that you want to make your own guitar (though it might be fun to try), but there are numerous practical uses for pallets outdoors and inside your home.

Inside or outside the house, pallets are handy. Used whole, or cut smaller, pallets make great storage racks. Use a circular saw or chain saw to safely cut these skids to the desired size. Your basement or garage can become much more organized by using pallets as a rack for keeping valuable items off of the floor, especially if that floor sometimes gets wet like a garage floor often does or a basement that tends to flood after a rainfall. Many people find pallets to be especially useful for supporting firewood outdoors, keeping exposure to rot and termites at a minimum.

Outside your home, pallets can be used in numerous ways; you can paint or stain them or use them "as-is." Design a bench for the backyard or on the deck or porch; you can even build a matching table from pallets. Erect a simple, but functional, fence around your yard to keep your dog in or the neighbor's toddler out. You can grow climbing vines or vegetables like peas or beans on your pallet fence. Or support your grapevines or other heavy backyard crops using pallets. Make a birdhouse or bird feeder.

In the garden, you can utilize pallets as a garden edge or to create raised beds, or use as an aesthetically pleasing compost bin that matches the decor of your yard. Or build a planter. If your lifestyle is more rustic, pallets are terrific as a chicken coop or to keep other animals from escaping from your homestead.

You don't need to be an engineer, architect, or artist to be resourceful with free discarded pallets. There are places online where you can find some guidance. Many of the tutorials give detailed instructions and there are videos on if you need something more visual.

Many people use old pallets, cut small, to burn in their fireplace, wood stove, bonfire, or campfire. That's a great idea. But, remember many pallets are treated with wood preservatives or pesticides. Therefore, using them as firewood may not be ecologically sound, not to mention the health risk to you and your family. So be careful if you decide to burn pallets.

Where can you get free pallets?

No matter where you live, rural or urban, big city or small, there are places out and about that want to give away their slightly damaged pallets. All you need to do is ask. Your newspaper circulation loading dock may have pallets for you, as might some of the shops at your mall. Typically, they would be located in the back near the trash. Always ask before you help yourself to these wooden treasures. You may find businesses or individuals giving away pallets on websites like or

People who know how to stretch dollars know how to find value in free stuff. Free wooden pallets are plentiful from a variety of sources in most communities. Keep your eyes and ears open. You'll be amazed how creative you can be in designing practical uses for these frequently discarded items.

Debra is an occupational therapist, accountant, teacher and freelance writer. She is a writer for Advance for Occupational Therapy Practitioners. She also writes for Grand Magazine, has some items (fiction and non fiction) selling on (kindle), has written several travel articles for the Champaign-Urbana News-Gazette and several articles for and volunteers as a money mentor for the University of Illinois Cooperative Extension money mentoring program. Learn more about her at

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