Wood pallets are one of my all-time favorite craft supplies.
Mind you, they’re not convenient. First, you’ve got to source them (we have a local shop that’s given us permission to pick up wood pallets from them whenever we see them on their loading dock–perhaps there’s a store near you that will do the same?).
Then, you’ve got to break them down, a labor that requires so much muscle that I sometimes can’t do it myself, even with my demolition saw, and have to get my husband to help me.
Finally, you’ve got to sand the heck out of them, both because you don’t know where they’ve been and because the nice grain of the wood is hidden underneath that dirty, rough exterior. That sanding takes a mind-numbingly long time, even with my palm sander. I don’t even want to guess how long it would take to sand by hand.
And then, and ONLY then, can you actually start to construct whatever it is that you want to construct with pallet wood.
Pain in the butt, for sure.
But there are some major benefits to crafting with wood pallets, benefits that 100% make up for the labor of love that using them costs. For one thing, pallet wood is free for the taking. Buying new wood is no joke, especially if you’re thinking of making something large. If you can build your project entirely from pallet wood, then yes, you’ve worked harder for it, but you’ve for sure saved yourself some money.
More importantly, though, is the fact that pallet wood is far more sustainable than new wood. A tree gave its life for the built-in bookshelves that my husband and I just finished building last weekend, but with pallet wood, that ship has sailed–sometimes literally. It’s not your fault that a tree gave its life to make that wood pallet, and by crafting with it, especially if you’re sourcing it from a store that’s just trashing them, then you’re actually diverting that wood from the waste stream.
Good job, Eco Warrior!
So yes, many of the projects in Crafting with Wood Pallets, by Becky Lamb (a book that I received free from a publicist), are quite a lot of work to build, because that’s just the way it is with wood pallets. The particular project that I built, however, is one that I was able to construct, other than the painting, in the course of a single two-hour playdate that my kids had. While they and a friend ran shrieking through our woods and around the drive-in next door, I stood out on my driveway and built myself this lovely porch star!
To make it easier, the wood that I used for the star was already dismantled from its wood pallets. Whenever I need pallet wood, I of course disassemble an entire pallet at a time, and set the surplus aside, so that every now and then, on some lucky day, I’ll go to pick out the wood that I need for a project and find that it’s already ready for me!
Most of the time that I spent on this porch star was, of course, spent sanding. The book’s instructions state that since the star is for outdoor use, it really only needs a light sanding, but because I wanted to paint it metallic gold, I went ahead and gave it a thorough sanding, so that the metallic paint would look nicer. If you want to leave the board unpainted, with perhaps just a clear sealant to preserve it, I’d also suggest sanding it thoroughly.
I have a habit of putting obscure references on my home, and then getting irritated when nobody notices. I painted the front door of our former house green, and spent seven entire years unhappy that nobody connected it with Bilbo Baggins’ house and HIS green door. Never mind that the door wasn’t round, the house wasn’t set in a hill, and I’m not a hobbit.
It was a green door, damnit! Tell me that it looks like Bilbo Baggins’ house!
And that is why, the next time you come over to visit me, you’d better be sure to mention the gold star on my front porch.
Because our house! It earned a gold star! Get it?
Just say you get it.
Note: I received a free copy of Crafting with Wood Pallets, because I can’t write about a book unless it’s encouraged me to spend a fine Sunday afternoon dumpster-diving behind strip malls.