The hunt for pallets
It’s not hard to ﬁnd pallets for reclamation because they’re used to ship so many materials and products. The trick is to locate pallets that are in fairly decent shape and that aren’t spoken for. Although the easiest places to ﬁnd a wealth of pallets are behind big-box stores and large retailers where they may be stacked haphazardly, many of these companies have agreements with recyclers to bulk collect used pallets. (Remember, pallets in good shape can be reused again and again.)
Unless the pallets have obviously been discarded as trash—on the curb during large trash pickup day or in a local dump—you’ll need to ask permission to take them. That said, many companies are more than willing to have you cart them off. That includes construction companies on large construction sites, where they often don’t have anywhere to store pallets to keep them out of the path of workers and vehicles, and they may not have arranged to have the pallets removed. You may also get lucky and ﬁnd whole dumpsters full of unbroken or slightly damaged pallets.
Regardless of where you ﬁnd them, you’ll want to make absolutely sure that the pallets you reclaim are safe for reuse. This involves determining if they have been used to transport any toxic or dangerous materials and avoiding those that have. Fortunately, most pallets are marked on the top, bottom or sides, and the markings often tell the story of where the pallet came from and what it carried.
Platform bed project
A comfortable bed is one of life’s great luxuries. Although we think of the mattress as the key to comfort, mattresses are just one part of the equation. The best beds provide a solid foundation that doesn’t feel like it might collapse under you as you toss and turn during the night. The bed should also support the mattress in a way that will ensure the greatest longevity of the mattress, because mattresses are anything but cheap. Fortunately, you can save a nice little chunk of change with a pallet bed like the one in this project. You’d be hard pressed to find a bed more secure and simple to construct than this platform.
The design of this bed is unconventional and lends a modern, almost industrial look to a bedroom (although the bed itself can be entirely concealed with oversized blankets or comforters). It’s an exceedingly simple look that you can dress up in a number of ways, from painting the pallets to siding them with a custom-made fabric “skirt.”
No matter what you think of the look, though, there’s no disputing that the construction of this project is perfect for the amazingly popular proliferation of memory foam mattresses. Unlike box spring sets that require only side rails for support, memory foam mattresses call for a firm foundation with closely spaced slats. The gaps between slats allow for air circulation that will help combat mildew and dust mites, and a platform bed like this eliminates annoying squeaks and sounds common to rail frames and less sturdy slatted beds.
The design in this project is sized to accommodate a standard queen-size mattress, although it can support a king-size unit if you’re willing to give up some of the border space on the platform. A smaller double or twin mattress will look lost on the platform though.
One of the wonderful things about this bed is that it’s so easy to assemble. Because the bed sits flat on the floor it is relatively self-levelling, and there are no precise measurements to take in the fabrication process. You also won’t need any special skills or tools. You can make the process even easier by nailing, rather than screwing, the pallets together (just use more nails). As a bonus, it’s almost risk-free. If you find that the bed isn’t to your liking, it can easily be deconstructed and the pallets reused in another project.
What you’ll need
Time: 1.5 hours
- Pry bar
- Palm sander
- Paintbrush (optional)
- Power drill and screw bits
- 8 pallets
- 100-grit sandpaper
- Primer (optional)
- White gloss enamel paint
- 3” [76 mm] wood screws
- (14) 4” [102 mm] zinc mending plates and screws
- 4” [102 mm] wood screws
- Self-adhesive felt furniture pads
How you make it
1. Remove the bottom deck boards from eight standard pallets. Smooth the pallets all over with a palm sander, so that no rough spots or splinters remain.
2. If you’re painting the bed, prime and paint the pallets all over. You can paint them any colour, but white is the most common and the least likely to go out of style. If you don’t like white, grey or very pale blue or green would work for most bedrooms.
3. Set four pallets in a grid, laying upside-down on the top deck boards, with the stringers running from what will be the foot of the bed to the head (notched edges up). Fasten the two pallets together, side by side at the head of the bed, with 3” wood screws. Drive screws every few inches, alternating sides.
4. Repeat the process with the two pallets at the foot of the bed. Fasten the stringers of the foot pallets to the head pallet stringers with 4” zinc mending plates screwed to both sides of each stringer pair. Reinforce the connection by screwing mending plates at the centre point of the deck boards (on the underside) across the pallets.
5. Build the base layer on top of the ﬁrst layer, notched edge up, with the remaining four pallets fastened in exactly the same way.
6. Alternating sides, drive 4” wood screws down through the stringers of the top layer, into the stringers of the layer below. Attach self-adhesive felt furniture pads every 3” (or 7.6 centimetres) along the bottom of each top stringer.
7. Use a helper to ﬂip the bed and position it in its ﬁnal location. Check for any splinters or rough spots before sitting the mattress on top of the bed frame.
For another upcycling project from the same author, check out How to Construct Durable End Grain Flooring in 4 Steps»
images: Photography by Chris Marshall