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The Best Do It Yourself Shipping Pallet Chairs

Pallet Recycling: Build A Chair

Simple and easy design makes pallet recycling a snap!

Simple and easy design makes pallet recycling a snap!

Shipping Pallet Recycling Project

I had been saving some old shipping palets for months. It just seemed like such a waste to throw them away so I was looking for a project. The wood was good, cut straight and only needed re-purposing. After looking at these pallets sitting in my driveway for several months I finally hit on a great idea for a pallet project. I had considered building an elevated bike trail, garden fencing and tables but nothing really clicked. Then, one day, a friend of mine mentioned seeing chairs built from re-used shipping pallets.When I heard this I knew I had found my first project. I could literally "see" the unfinished chair among the rails and slats of the three pallets I had collected. After a few days of thinking through my plan I had a basic design and was ready to start!

These pallet chairs have great appeal

You can tell from this picture that my grass needs to be cut....

You can tell from this picture that my grass needs to be cut....

Pallet Chairs, a grass roots phenomenon!

Yard furniture!

Yard furniture!

What You Need To Make A Shipping Pallet Chair.

Other than some hand tools there are not many things you will need to make a pallet chair. Each chair takes two shipping pallets, some 2-3 inch deck screws and some 2 inch stainless steel lag screws. Tools you will need are; circular saw, drill/screwgun, speed square, level, drill bits, measuring tape, pencil, pad and sandpaper/sander. I built mine in the yard, altogether I think it took about 7 hours to build. This time includes finding the pallets.

Getting Started on your pallet chair project

When I built the first chair I used pallets I had already collected. I got them from work. These were new, "high quality" pallets just waiting for a good idea and some free time. For the second chair I had to scrounge pallets. This sounds easier than it actually is. I found pallets right away, mountains of them, but they were not useable. Pallets are used to ship everything and they can be found behind any strip mall or small business. You can easily find a pallet graveyard looking behind the closest strip mall.

The right pallet for furniture

The problem is that not all pallets are suited to make furniture. Old, broken pallets full of rusty nails are not ok. It may take some time to find pallets that will make a good chair. I always look for new pallets. Sometimes an older one is ok if its in good shape and not dirty. There shouldn't be any broken boards and the inner rails should be solid wood near in size to a 2x4. When choosing a pallet I also look at the aesthetics of the wood. How does it look? Are there lots of little boards or only a few large ones? These are important questions.

Simple Pallet Chair Construction

These pallet chairs are easy to assemble.

These pallet chairs are easy to assemble.

The chair has a great look even without embellishment


Assembling The Pallet Chair

The beauty of this design is that you don't have to disassemble a bunch of pallets. I didn't reclaim lumber and then build a chair. I reclaimed used pallets and built chairs out of them. This is why its important to choose good pallets. Pretty pallets equals pretty chairs. You will have to disassemble one pallet to get an extra rail for the bottom. Other than that it is primarily cutting the pallets into shape. Each pieces dimensions are determined by the construction of the original pallet but the design remains the same.

The most important part of the chair assembly is the seat and back. For this I used the nicest of my pallets. It was the newest, the cleanest and it was built with lots of narrower boards that were closer together. Most of the chair's appeal comes from its look. And the quality of the pallet does affect your final product.

I attached the back rest to the bottom frame at a 10 degree back angle, or 55 degrees. I practiced with the back rest perpendicular to the seat and felt it was uncomfortable. In order to firmly attach the back rest I had to modify the bottom edge with a nailer. This is a board installed so that I had a solid place for the screws that was also easy to get to. After the back and seat were attached they were fixed in place with the arm rests and supports. The entire design is based on geometry. The simplicity and beauty of the design combine to make these chairs elegant pieces of modern folk art.

More to come soon.......and project number two!

My second project is a fancy blue bird house made from the same materials. It is easy to make several houses at once so you can ensure plenty of room for all your local bluebirds!

Blue Bird Houses

I gave the first three blue bird houses to my mom, sister and nieces.  They all live in coastal NC, well within the bluebirds range.  All three report new tenants. My sister was able confirm her residents were Carolina wrens.

I gave the first three blue bird houses to my mom, sister and nieces. They all live in coastal NC, well within the bluebirds range. All three report new tenants. My sister was able confirm her residents were Carolina wrens.

This will be the next pallet project.  It is going to become a bench for my garden.

This will be the next pallet project. It is going to become a bench for my garden.

Other pallet projects

  1. Birdhouses - pallets are a great source of reclaimed lumber for bird houses. A blue bird house should be 5 inches square inside dimensions,with a 1 1/2 inch hole about 6-8 inches off the floor of the house. I recommend installing a hinge in the roof or box so you can clean it out each year.
  2. Tables- pallets make great out side furniture, I look for a new, clean pallet with boards close together. For some tables a scrounged piece of glass or reclaimed window can make a great top.
  3. Shoe rack- You can make a nice rack for all the kids, and your, muddy shoes.
  4. Planter Box- assemble cut down pallets into squares and rectangles that can be filled with dirt and used for gardening.
  5. Shadow boxes- Pallets, especially age hardwood pallets, have a nice "anitqued" look to them and make great display boxes.
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Recycled Pallet Furniture Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer. The answer key is below.

  1. How much did it cost to build the recycled pallet adirondack chair
    • $15 or more
    • around $10
    • Under $5
  2. How long did it take to build the recycled pallet adirondack chair?
    • about an hour
    • 2-3 hours
    • 4-5 hours

Answer Key

  1. Under $5
  2. about an hour

Also by TMHughes


kitkat1141 from Ontario, Canada on November 06, 2012:

What a great recycling project! Looks very professional.

Natasha from Hawaii on August 10, 2012:

Awesome ideas! I am currently working on a pallet end table. I love that you don't have to take the pallet apart. I wish I'd seen this before starting the table - I had two small pallets that would have made a perfect chair! Oh well, the good thing about pallets is they're free and plentiful.

furniturez from Washington on August 08, 2012:

I think I may take you up on that shoe rack pallet project!

TomRy from USA on June 22, 2012:

These are great, next time I have access to a pallet I'll make sure to build one of these.

sadie423 from North Carolina on June 02, 2012:

So far we've made 2 sheds, a compost bin, a hay feeder and a trash bin for down at the road to keep dogs out. We use them as partial fences for our goats and in the garden as trellises too.

TMHughes (author) from Asheville, NC on June 02, 2012:

What stuff do y'all make? I also make birdhouses, tables and garden fence.

sadie423 from North Carolina on June 02, 2012:

Cool chair! We use pallets for building all the time but haven't made anything like chairs yet. They look great!

Claudia Hughes on January 24, 2012:

What a cool idea!! Using recycled wood that would otherwise be thrown away is a very good idea...and the chairs look good too.

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