I recently inherited several tools and and pieces of equipment which I hope to put to good use someday. For now though, I live in an apartment, which means much of this stuff is going into storage. Some of the equipment is heavy and prone to damage, so I need a way to protect it. I decided to to build some small crates for these items, since cardboard boxes won’t be strong enough. However, I don’t want to spend a lot of money doing it, and lumber is expensive, so I figured I’d get what I need from old pallets. They’re a popular source of upcycled wood for DIY projects, which means there’s lots of info on how to reuse them, and best of all, they’re free. Last weekend I set about transforming some old pallets into crates and I’m quite happy with the results.
The first step of course is obtaining the pallets. I work at a factory, so this wasn’t too hard. Most of the pallets we receive get reused, but occasionally there are a few in the scrap pile that are either broken or don’t meet our requirements. I checked a couple weeks ago and was able to get four that were all identical and in relatively good shape. I took them home and broke them down into boards with a reciprocating saw w/ a 12″ nail-embedded wood demolition blade. It made pretty quick work of them. This leaves the nails embedded in the wood, but I’m not planing the boards and I’m not concerned about their aesthetic value. With the boards free, I set about building the crate.
For the crate I’m showing in the photos and videos, I built it to be big enough to hold a 15″ scroll saw that I want to store. For support, I used a couple of the thicker boards from the bottom of pallet, then built a platform on top of them using the thinner boards that came from the top of the pallet. The sides and lid are built the same way, with the two ends being composed entirely of the thin boards. For fasteners, I primarily used drywall screws, since I had plenty of them already. Assembly went fairly well, with the only real difficulty being that as the crate came together, things weren’t lining up. The boards aren’t all the same thickness, some aren’t very straight, and as a result the crate is a little uneven. This is the result of using the pallet wood without cutting new edges or otherwise cleaning it up. I could have cut all the boards to the same thickness, which would have made assembly easier. Instead, I just compensated by adding and trimming boards as needed to make it work out. I’m not worried about aesthetics, as long as the crate protects the saw, it’s fine.
After building all the walls, I went about adding some handles. I cut a couple small pieces of the thick boards and attached them to the ends with several screws. The lid doesn’t have hinges or any other fasteners. Instead, it’s secured to the rest of the crate by four long screws. This makes the crate inconvenient for frequent access, but it’s okay as it will just be sitting in storage for several months. Although I wasn’t concerned with the look of the crate, I did opt to take a cue from my Japanese Toolbox project and include my first name in Japanese on the crate. Instead of chiseling it like I did with that project, I simply made a template using card stock and spray painted it on. This was quick and easy and allowed me to use up some old cans of spray paint I had laying around.
For my first crate, it came really well. It’s plenty sturdy; actually I’d say it’s over-built. If I have one complaint, it’s that it’s too heavy. For the remaining crates I’ll cut the weight down by using use scraps of plywood or OSB for the sides. As long as the support boards are strong the crates should hold up fine.
This was a great way to reuse some materials and make something I needed without spending much money. I look forward to finding some more uses for discarded pallets in the future. Once I get a bigger place and can make room for a workshop and unpack my tools, I’m sure I’ll come up with some more pallet projects!