Blame it on Pinterest! Man that thing is a honey-do list extender. Anyway, there my wife was scrolling through the pins when she stumbled upon shelves made from recycled pallets (apparently they are all the rage on Etsy as well). And the next day there I was scrounging through old pallets at work to make pallet shelves. The nice thing is that they’re much more simple to make than the crib that I made that eventually my wife got rid of. Or, the refinished headboard that she didn’t like. Anyway, pallet shelves are aren’t rocket science, but here’s a look at how I made several simple shelves with minimal pain and anguish.
To start, find a pallet or two that are not in use. Avoid ones that are still on a forklift. The newer, the better, as some of the older ones have rot or fungus or critters crawling all over them. Then again, if you can find an old one in good condition, they often have a nice patina going for them. If you’re lucky (lucky being loosely used here), you can find free pallets at work that are in reasonable condition. If not, you can go to a recycler or even a store to scrounge some up on your local Craigslist. For an idea of size, standard pallets are 40” x 48”. However, the ones I have at work are food pallets and are 45” x 45” square. It changes the look and makes the shelves longer but it still works out nicely, and in some cases better.
Basic Pallet Shelves DIY
To make the basic pallet shelf is as simple as two cuts. Above the second slat on the top, cut through the stringers that all the slats are attached to. This will give you a 8”-10” tall back and about a 4”-6” front. The sizes of boards can vary from pallet to pallet but are generally about 4”-6” in width. Now, all you have to do is remove the next slat on the pallet for the bottom. You might think this is easy but all the pallets I have come across use spiral shank nails that make pulling them out a challenge. Instead, use a metal cutting blade on a reciprocating saw. Work the blade between the slat and stringer to cut through the nails. Then pop the nail heads out. An oscillating multi-tool is another optional that’s a bit more surgical than a recip saw. Attach the removed slat to the bottom of your cut out piece, and Bob’s your uncle, you have a pallet shelf!
It can be attached by directly screwing the top back slat into the wall or by hanging from a cable. The one I have here for the mail is a half shelf. Since the pallet I used had a double stringer in the center I was able to get two of these half shelves with only two more simple cuts. These can be painted or stained, adorned or left plain. Best of all they’re cheap or even free. Lastly, don’t let yourself be tied to any particular design. Pallets can be used for everything from wall decor to wine storage. . . use your imagination and let us know what uses you’ve found for pallets in the comments section below.