Why rotten pallet wood is a score

barn wood weathered pallet wood / why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net

Riiing…. “Hello?”

me – “Hi there! I’m your neighbour ‘down the road.’ And I noticed you had some pretty weathered pallets on your driveway. Are you looking to get rid of them at all?”

“Sure! But they’re pretty beat up. What are you using them for?”

(I have no idea actually…)

“Uh, I just make stuff with old wood, so they don’t have to be very special.”

(all pallet wood is special btw)

“Fine by me. Just make sure you take the whole thing.”

“Oh… I can’t cut chunks?”

“No. It’s too hard to lift the remnants by machine.”

“Will do. Thanks!”

And then I let my precious pallets sit because I was getting ready for the market.

And then this went up…

free pallets sign / why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net
Bahhh!!

Wasting no time, and with my market unpacking all done, today was theeee day to harvest some beautifully weathered pallet wood nearly right next door!

Joy! There was still lots left!

But my neighbour was right. Most of it was pretty rough. And by rough, I mean rotten.

why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net
But before you bypass what you think is too far gone, there are some definite bonuses on selecting the very weathered variety.

First off, you want to ensure the rot is only on the surface. If you can wash it off, you’re good to go.

loading up pallets in the back of the truck / why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net
Partially rotten pallet boards are easier to lift… by myself.

cutting pallets apart with a jig saw / why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net
… and easier to cut.

Seriously… I cut along the centre frame, then just ripped the other side off. No needing to pull any nails at all.

cutting pallets apart with a jig saw / why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net
I can’t imagine why he didn’t want me doing all this in HIS yard… sheesh… 🙂

cutting pallets apart with a jig saw / why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net
It does make a mess for sure.

Nothing that a broom or water hose can’t cure though.

saving pallet centres / why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net
This was my harvest from 2 pallets, both sides. (the centres are from 3 pallets, but one pallet was too far gone to use)

It only took a couple of hours, so to me, that’s kind of a decent haul. Just wait till you see how it looks when it’s sanded… it’ll be gorgeous!

Those centre sections? No idea what I’ll do with them, but I will do something! They’re great… for something.

As for the leftovers?

pallet wood scraps / why rotten pallet wood is a score / FunkyJunkInteriors.net
Looks like at least 2 trips to the dump are in order… 🙂

If you want some super serious pallet wood info…

everything you've ever wanted to know about pallet wood / funkyjunkinteriors.net
There’s always THIS post. 

Would you pick up rotten weathered pallet wood? Or are you on the lookout for the sturdier kind?

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Categories: Junk Drawer, Reclaimed wood projects, Shopping
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  1. Oh my…yes I would have stopped for that lovely aged pallet wonderfulness! I am currently working with a pile of one hundred year old barn siding for a garden/antique show I am setting up at. There is some rough stuff and some yummy aged just right stuff too. Loving the creativity that pile inspires! I love, love your style and all of your funky projects too.

  2. Excellent post – and haul, go you!

    I have 2 pallets in my garden that have endured all sorts of weather over the last year. As they have been so exposed to the elements I am reluctant to use them for something that will live in the house in case they are unhealthy in some way. I was going to give them to my sister for firewood…

    • You make a very valid point, Sam. I won’t bring stuff I can’t clean into my home, for certain. But if I can get it relatively clean and there’s no sight of mildew, I do chance it. It’s always a good idea to just keep it away from food, child or sleeping sources / areas. I’d also watch the firewood thing, if the wood is toxic you don’t want to be burning that indoors.

  3. Quite often I see free pallets on Craigslist here in Portland Oregon area. I am not as creative as you so would not be doing anything. I love seeing what the people make though.

  4. Hi! I love all of your projects! Can you please tell me what saw/tool (s) you like best? Like what did you use to cut the old pallets?

    Thank you for sharing 🙂

  5. Oh me it’s so good to know there’s another pallet junky out there. Hubs keeps telling me the weathered gray boards aren’t any good, want to make trugs with them, they’re perfect. We have 3 piles of pallets down on our lower yard, used to be more but did make some things with them.
    People here don’t seem to like distressed looking stuff, they get all huffy and defensive when they see what we’ve made. They want spanking new looking, feel like telling them to go to KMart then, hope what I’m thinking doesn’t show. “Here” is Grand Junction, CO and we live about 18 miles west of outskirts of G.J. out in country.
    I love your blog, you are so real, honest, not phoney, too much of that here. Going to read your posts about pallets. Look forward to seeing what you do with those pallets you scored. Hard to get pallets here, people want to charge way too much.
    Have great weekend

  6. Great haul Donna! Can’t wait to see what you do with all that fresh wood. It’s got a great patina to start with.

  7. Ah, sooooooo cool…I just know you’re going to come up with some special projects for this aged-wood-goodness and I can’t wait! I’m on the edge of my seat just wondering what you’ll do with the centre sections! Also see in the comments where you gave links for posts outlining tools you recommend DIYers have in their arsenal…I’ll be checking those out, too…thank you for that!

  8. A DESTRUCT SAW (CHEAP AT HARBOR FREIGHT) and a long metal cutting blade will allow you to cut the nails and save longer planks..
    easier that almost other methods…P

  9. OK, I’m into this…sources: Look for importers, their pallets may be made of ASIAN hardwood..US stuff is usually low grade rough cur pine…
    Check out the counter top makers..their pallets may have 2X4 frames for large slabs of stone Also Boat shops or cycle stores more and better wood there too but a little seasonal…
    GOOD LUCK…Pete

  10. I just love everything that I see you do! Used to love painting etc when younger, but age has stopped me from doing them. I will enjoy other people!s handy work, puts anything I could do to shame. I just don!t know how you people come up with such great ideas! Will be following you, Gwen from Ontario Canada

  11. I pick up pallets from a medical supply equipment importer. They’re 3/4″ oak pallets. GAW-geous. Unfortunately, (whaaat?) they’re new wood. I pack these heavy puppies into my truck, also by myself, and leave them in the yard for a year or so. Again, unfortunately, it makes all “normal” pallets seem flimsy. That said, I’d never turn down a pallet — nor pass by one on the road. I always laugh when people want to know where to find pallets, or how to take ’em apart.

    Love your work, as always!

  12. Great ideas. I have a small winery and am getting every year more and more pallets that I did not want to dispose off…now I know why !!
    Thaks