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Upcycling Wood Pallets

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Ever noticed pallets outside your grocery store, in your company’s warehouse or randomly laying outside of your local street market? 

These flat wooden structures are easily overlooked but are the unsung hero of modern-day transportation of goods for commerce. These wooden constructions have played a pivotal role in the international transit of trade. With a history dating back to 1900, pallets revolutionised the commerce industry by enabling businesses to transport merchandise all around the world while also helping to store them safely. Pallet's predecessor ‘The Skid’ was the initial structure used to stacks goods for transportation. But by 1915 the first forklift truck was invented given birth to what we now know as pallets. 

Wooden pallets are typically used within the import and export industries, that require the transportation of goods for commence. Its primary use is to transport all types of goods, but comes into good effect as storage units in many warehouses across the globe. Once those goods have safely made it to their destination, the pallets are either reused and redistributed back into the supply chain or unfortunately discarded.

Upcycled wood pallet furniture has grown in popularity in recent years, and it’s easy to see why, with rustic home styling and a call for eco-friendly alternatives, pallets and reclaimed wood are the perfect replacement to traditional furniture. Pallets can be built into a plethora of different furniture options from planters to tables, or even beds! Moreover, in addition to owning a unique piece of furniture, you are also doing your bit for the environment!

If you’ve ever wondered what goes into turning a humble pallet into a bespoke addition to your home, here is an overview of the process:

Dismantling

Wooden pallets weigh between 12kg and 18kg and typically have between 60 to 80 nails which need to be removed. This varies due to the sheer number of times the pallet would have been repurposed over its lifespan. Bear in mind that each pallet has had a journey from creation to being used on multiple trips. Over time they are prone to damage,  which leads to pallet suppliers repairing and adding new nails and wooden boards.  Whilst removing nails is a relatively straightforward process, it can be challenging if  you want to salvage as much wood from the pallet without breaking the wooden board. It can also be labour intensive.

Sanding

The last thing you want is a splinter from your new furniture, so each piece of wood needs to be sanded down to ensure that the surface is even and smooth to the touch. Sanding sounds straightforward but also has its own science. Sanding paper has a variety of grit options. The grit of sandpaper is a rating of the size of abrasive materials on the sandpaper. The higher the grit number is, the more refined the wood becomes, which creates smoother surface finishes. The lower grit numbers represent more aggressive sandpaper that scrapes off materials much quicker. 

Sizing and Assembly

The next step in the process is to cut the various parts of your furniture to size before then assembling the various components together to your specification. This is where the project can sometimes get tricky as getting the measurements wrong by even a few centimetres could result in either a wonky item or one that is unsafe for use. 

Finishing

There are plenty of ways to finish a woodwork project. From oils to varnishes, these can either be water-based or oil-based, creating a variety of results. Certain oil and waxes finishes will complement the particular wood it's used on, highlighting the natural grain of the wood and maintaining its natural beauty. Whilst also preventing the wood from drying out which may cause movement or cracking. This type of varnish would be ideal for use on low traffic areas such as shelving, side tables, sculptures and many more projects. But oil and wax finishes wouldn't be used for projects such as a kitchen counter, bar top or cafe table. As these are high traffic areas, where water has a chance to soak in and spillages are likely to stain the surface! For projects such as these, this is where varnish works best. The varnish leaves behind a hard plastic-type coating which will stop water and spillages from penetrating the wood,  damaging or staining the project. Some varnishes can also prevent scorches from hot items and scratches! But it's all dependent on the durability of the varnish itself. 

The end product

Although the process for creating pallet furniture can be arduous, the outcome and impact are great! You end up with a bespoke piece of furniture that reflects your personality and adds character to your home and the pallet is diverted from the landfill. Win win!

Take a look at some of the products we have created with pallets here



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Do you require collection of pallets or recycling of wood waste, please contact us on info@inuse-reuse.co.uk

If you have any other questions about our, products or would like to enquiry about creating a bespoke product, please get in touch via the form below, we are happy to help.

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