Pallet Wood Creations {by Donna from Funky Junk Interiors!}

I am so honored to have Donna from Funky Junk Interiors as my first guest blogger of my “Help! I’m moving!” Series!
Donna and I have never met in person, but I know we will someday.  We started our blogs around the same time, and I have thoroughly enjoyed watching her blog blow mine out of the water grow!
She has got some serious talent and serious creativity!  I absolutely love gawking at the pictures on her blog!
Thank you so much, Donna, for responding to my S.O.S.!  You rock!!!
Hello everyone! It’s my pleasure to join forces with the other guest posters during Traci’s move. Thanks for having me over Traci. :) 

I thought I’d talk about one of my all time passions. And that’s

Creating with pallet wood

I’m a full fledged junk-aholic. And I don’t mean I like dragging chairs home that need just a fresh coat of paint. I like cool JUNK. The kind that someone may burn or throw out and love turning it into a must have for a home. :)
One of my alltime favorite things to bring home is pallet wood. I love creating things out of it and have done quite a number of projects to date.

pallet sawhorse ladder desk


My pinterest pallet collection

Although the use of pallet wood is becoming extremely hot property lately, it also comes with some controversy. Before diving into the wonderful world of working with pallet wood, please educate yourself on the dangers as well.

Here are some tips and safety information you should be armed with before carrying pallet wood home for your own DIY projects.

~ Consider what it carried ~

I am fortunate to work at a firetruck manufacturer that always has stacks of pallet wood on hand.

Many of the pallets have been built for the very purpose of shipping the firetruck cartons because of their odd size. Which means alot of the wood is in new condition and has been only used for this shipment.

While that’s no guarantee that the wood is chemically or bacterial safe, it’s far safer knowing it wasn’t carrying pesticides or the like!

~ Look for loose boards ~
Pallets are NASTY to dismantle without a doubt. So I cheat.

Pallet crates have to be ripped open to retrieve the contents so I come across a lot of loose boards.
But no fear. Even if you don’t land loose boards, remember you can always saw the boards off the whole pallet if you can work with shorter pieces.

This is what I call the magic bin. :) When I arrived today, it looked like this.
And when I was leaving after my day of work, it looked like this!
I rather lucked out though. While this generally holds loose pallet wood, it held all kinds of cool odds and sods from cleaning out the wood shop. 

Nail-less boards when possible 

The nails on pallet boards are evil. Most are of the spiral variety that makes taking the pallets apart nearly impossible.
So I look for boards with very few nails, or ones I can saw off easily.

But you WILL have to endure removing some nails eventually. It’s possible, but be prepared to work VERY hard for that wood.

Pound and pry.  I flip the board upside down and attempt to bang the nail out as much as I can, then flip it back over and pry out the rest.
~ How is it treated? ~

Newer regulations require pallet manufacturers in Canada and the US to treat the wood before shipping. This can be by chemicals or by heat.

The HT on the above board means it’s been heat treated, or kiln dried. This is the safer kind.

If the boards are unmarked, it may be safe but there’s also a strong chance it’s been chemically treated, which makes them dangerous.

Give it a pass if:
  • it smells
  • looks oily
  • is stained
  • is extra heavy
  • too many twisted nails (not worth it!)
  • it looks suspect period

I’ve also been emailed with a story where someone got a nasty sliver which infected them to the point of requiring hospitalization. So, just be picky. Always wear gloves and choose wisely.

~ Beware of bacteria ~
Chemicals are one thing, but bacteria is another.
Always be safe and scrub the wood down with bleach and soapy water. Rinse well, and allow to completely dry.
But do remember, wood is porous, so there’s a chance the bacteria is embedded. Just go into this knowing NO pallet wood should be used for food related items, children’s toys nor children’s play furniture. It just isn’t worth the risk.
~ Work safe with it ~
Pallet wood requires LOTS of work, so be safe:
  • wear gloves to avoid nail punctures and splinters
  • wear safety glasses and a dust mask when sanding or sawing
  • store it without the nails. (dangerous!)  Pry them out ASAP.
~ Always ask ~

Many places of business that utilize pallet wood actually recycle them. They may use them over again or they get picked up and  reimbursed for their return. So before you help yourself to what you think may be free could also be viewed as theft. Ask for permission before helping yourself.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

This post must come across like one of those new medication commercials. “Buy me because I’m awesome but you may die if you take me.” :) You will have no need to worry about using pallet wood if you simply heed the cautions and use it for appropriate projects.

If in doubt, pass on it and head to the lumber store instead. Spending a few bucks on new wood is far smarter than bringing contaminated wood home for free.

And trucks. :) 


Funky Junk Interiors


Thank you, Donna!  I love your fabulous pallet wood creations and all of your helpful hints!

Donna does WAY more than just work with pallet wood!  If you have never been to her blog before, you seriously need to drop by and check it out.  She is a precious soul with beautiful heart, and her blog reflects that.  Plus, she’s just plain ole stinkin’ cool!


  1. Donna what a wonderful post. I wish I had seen this months ago before my husband and I made our dining room table out of pallet wood. It did not even cross my mind to think about the safety of the wood. eeekkk I hope the wood we used is safe. We had so much fun making it, I laughed at your comment about the spiral nails they sure are tricky. We ended up using a roto zip to take off the sharp end of the nails because we wanted the head of the nail to show. We loved the way it came out. If you would like to see here is the link. I also have two posts prior to this one that explain our entire build they are in the post. Love Funky Junk, I will be following now! :) Good luck with the move Traci!

  2. Taking nails out of pallets are not that hard, if you do it a easy way any how, theirs videos on you tube on how to take them apart in minutes! You just need a good hammer and a crowbar. That’s what I used any way! Have a lovely day!

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