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Craft Wood—the New Craze

Craft Wood has become a lot of the craze on sites such as Pinterest, WeHeartIt and FireArt.  People have been creating man caves and other rustic features in bars, restaurants, even in medical offices by using antique wood or craft wood.

Perhaps the popularity of woodcraft or craft boards has been the desire to decorate with an old school flare. It may also be that the popular use of greys, browns and earth tones being used in many home decors has increased its popularity. Anyone can have a new wood look, but to have an older hand crafted look is a harder project to achieve.

Read on to find out how Make Wood Blocks from Wooden Pallets Yourself or…

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Pallet Boards for your Craft Wood can now be obtained in Bulk

We sell bulk pallet boards to the public, but prior to our online store, most people spent time looking for free pallets or craft wood pieces. It would take several days to pull them apart with crowbars or saws to get antique looking wood boards. Now, a bundle of wooden pallet boards can be purchased in bulk, making these projects much more about the project and less about the acquisition of woodcraft supplies. Projects go so much faster when you can reach down and pull out a board from your wholesale supply pack.

Where to Get Free Wooden Pallets

If you do want to get free wooden pallets or pallet boards, I’ve listed a few places to look:  behind grocery stores, hardware stores, feed and seed stores, convenience stores, industrial complexes, farms, pet stores, landscape companies, wholesale stores, and really anyone that uses a loading dock or a forklift.

Where not to Look for Free Wood Pallets

Places that I would stay away from include these larger chains:  Walmart, Sam’s Club, Lowe's, Home Depot, and Costco. These larger chains already have well entrenched recycling programs. I know that we personally work for Fruit of the Loom and they have a companywide guarantee to try and never send things to the landfill.

Obtaining Good Craft Wood

The smaller mom and pop retailers usually don’t mind and often it may even help some of them. These type operations are often throwing good pallets into their dumpster. So repurposing craft wood is a benefit to them and helps reduce their overhead costs. Some of the ways that you can tell if a pallet is free or if it is part of their recycling program is in the way that they store them. Most people who recycle have some type of enclosure to store their pallets in. If they are in a pallet recycling enclosure, I would tell you not to mess with these. Larger corporations will sometimes lease pallets and these are usually 9 block pallets and may be painted Red or Blue. Pallets that you find thrown next to a dumpster in a scattered pile are often free. I would recommend you knock on the door and just ask as ninety percent of the time they are going to say go ahead and take them. There is an entire subculture of people that go out and collect the valuable pallets and sell them to companies like us, but often leave the good crafting wood behind.

Craft Wood Pieces—Important Information

Out of an average used shipping skid pallet, you should expect to get around 14 reusable plank boards. I like to say that each of these wood boards will cover a 3/4 of a square foot.

If you are trying to get pallet boards for a project, some good points to remember are:

  • First figure out how many square feet of rustic wood boards that you need. Measuring the square foot of used wood that you need for the project is done like this: If it is a wall, measure the height of the wall then measure the length of the wall.
  • Those two numbers are multiplied together to give you the Area. In my daughter’s Algebra class it would be written:  H x W= Sq. Ft Area. With H and W being measured in feet. H means height and W means width measured in square feet.
  • Once the Sq foot of the area has been determined, then we multiply that Area number by 3 / 4 to get the number of antique wood pallet or woodcraft boards that the project will need. I would add on a few extra boards in case you have a few cracked pallet boards.
  • Once the number of crafting boards needed has been determined, divide that number by 14 and you will know how many actual pallets you need to collect to complete your Pinterest wood project.

Example for Determining the Wood Pallets Needed for your Craft Board

Let’s do an example woodcraft project together for clarification.  If I want to put a Pallet Wall on two of the walls inside my She-Shed. First I’m going to measure the Height, which for my shed is 11 feet tall. My Height = 11 feet. The length of the wall is 16.3 feet. I will round this up to 17 feet.  We now have our basic formula of Height 11 feet  times Length of 17 feet = 187 square feet of woodcraft working Area. We now want to divide 187 sq ft by .75 which will tell us how many actual pallet boards we will need.  So 187 sq feet divided by .75 equals 249.3333 or 250 Boards. Now that we know that we need 250 pallet boards, we will divide 249.3333 or 250 by 14 which equals 18 pallets.  In this example, 250 divided by 14 means we need 17.8 or 18 pallets.

Pointers on Finding Used Wood Pallets for your Woodcraft Supply

  • Number one, remember that each pallet weighs around 65 pounds. There is a wide range, depending on the nation of origin, construction, how long they have been outside, and what they were built to ship.
  • Most pallets you find are going to be 3-1/2 feet wide by 4 feet long x 6 inches tall. You can figure out how many pallets will fit inside your car or truck with these numbers. Since I collect pallets for a living, I can almost hawk eye them as I drive by.
  • You can figure out that you will get about four or five in the back of your SUV.
  • We have people that deliver pallets to us using a standard pickup truck -which holds around 30 wooden pallets. They will have them stacked pretty high.
  • The legal height to drive down the highway with wooden pallets is 13 feet 5 inches or the height of a standard semi-truck.

Hauling Wood Pallets—Safety Tips

People that haul pallets of five or more in their pickups should use commercial tie-down straps which can be purchased at most any tool store. You have seen these hold motorcycles or boats on trailers going down the road. These straps are extremely strong, lightweight, with hooks and clamps. It also helps that they are inexpensive.

Holding used shipping skids down is a major safety concern and one not to be overlooked. I know for a fact that more than once, these folks that are collecting pallets and reselling to us, have lost their load. They have spent a lot of time and placed themselves and others at great risk trying to pick them up after they have fallen off. I’m surprised that I haven’t heard about a serious injury, but I am glad that we always make safety a top priority.

Breaking Down the Wooden Pallets into Pallet Boards

Now that you have collected a bulk of pallets for your woodcrafting project you will want to prepare yourself for the task of disassembling the pallets.

I have to throw in a plug for our company—while I am sharing with you the secrets of getting woodcraft for free, all of this can be avoided by ordering your wood pallet boards in bulk directly from us. We can usually have the wood delivered to your doorstep for under a $1.50 per square foot, weathered and ready to be put up on the wall or whatever project you choose.

Call Us Now 1-843 343-8267 or Click here to find what is right for you.

Tools Needed for Pallet Disassembly

Pallet wood disassembly will require that you have a few specific tools:

  • Hammer
  • Crowbar
  • Hacksaw
  • Reciprocating saw like a Saw-zaw
  • Safety glasses and gloves.

If you are using a Saw-zaw having both a wood blade and a metal cutting blade will speed up your production. While disassembly is an art, there are easier ways to get pallets apart. Commercially we use a 6 foot, 30 HP Bandsaw.

Additional Time Saving Pallet Disassembly Tips

Some easy ways for the hobbyist would be to consider cutting your wood pallet boards right next to the stringer or the nails. Cutting thru clean craft boards will save your saw blade, be faster and safer. Pulling nails with a crowbar takes so long and the amount of craft wood you leave behind has already been calculated when you figured out how many boards you needed. It’s kind of like leaving a little bit of meat on the bone when you fillet a fish. You would be cutting the craft wood in a way that would not require you remove nails, so it is easier, just less wood.

How to Antique Wood

Now, if going for the antique or rustic look, the nail heads are a part of that look. In this case, you would soften up the pallet nails by banging on the back of the boards, slightly raising them above the stringer or 2x4. This will allow you to get a metal blade or reciprocating saw behind the nail so that you may cut off the nail without having to pull the nail out. People that try to remove the nails will often crack the crafting pallets and sometimes make them unusable, so care must be taken during disassembly so that you end up with a good wood product.

Another Safety Tip

Make sure you have on your safety goggles and gloves while attempting this part of the project. Don’t forget to have on safe shoes so that you don’t end up with a nail in your foot and have to go to the doctor for a tetanus shot. You can expect to spend around 30 minutes to an hour to take a pallet apart. You should produce around 10 sq feet per pallet collected and properly disassembled. There are specialty tools such as special crowbars which will allow you to gain better leverage pulling nails out, but I think you get more mileage out of a reciprocating saw from Home Depot.

Aging Wood Techniques

Antiquing wood or pallet boards is an art. There are several techniques which can be used for aging wood. I’ll share some of these with you today:

  • The easiest antiquing method is to let Mother Nature do it for you.
  • Three or four weeks outside in the rain and sun will slowly weather a new board. Honestly, four weeks isn’t that long, and will go by before you know it.
  • You will want to lay your wood out and let it weather. You only need to weather one side (the side that people will see) so you don’t need to flip it.
  • If you have nice grass you may want to place the boards on concrete, a roof or a place that won’t mess up the grass.
  • Another way to weather the wood boards is by using different colors or staining techniques.
  • When using stains to get the weathered look, I advise clients to dilute the stain to a 5 or 10% solution by adding paint thinner or water—depending on what your stain is made of.
  • If you have a water based paint, you add more water
  • If it is oil based add some paint thinner to it or alcohol. Please be safe when using any flammable materials.
  • You can always add more color to your wood, but it is almost impossible to remove colored stain, so always test in a small area first.
  • Always let the test area dry before determining if you like the look of the stain.
  • Applying too much stain or coloring could make the wood too dark.
  • You can also get a weathered look by diluting paints. Most paints are water based these days and that’s nice because it eliminates the need for chemicals and paint thinners.
  • I like to tell people to test the paints on the backside of the wood.

Staining the Pallet Boards

Once you have the stain or coloring that you want to apply to the board, the best way to get an even look is to lay out all the boards you will be using for the project. Place them on a surface that will not be damaged by run-off or overspray. I like to use a 1 gallon pump sprayer when I am applying these products. I will usually lay out all my pallet boards with the correct side facing up and then randomly spray the boards. Don’t worry about any patterns that you may create because the next step is to rearrange them.

Sorting the Pallet Boards

Once dry, pick them up and move them around. This will keep the sprayed pattern from showing. You can reapply as necessary to get the look you want.

Another Weathered Wood Technique

Another weathering technique is to burn them. Burning boards is dangerous and you can get hurt, although thinking about it, I’d say almost every part of this process can be dangerous if you aren’t careful. There are commercial torches which can be purchased to burn a large amount of wood. If you only need to burn a few pieces, you can go to your local Ace Hardware and pick up a propane torch for under $20 including the gas. This is better for 30 or less wood craft boards, but once you get over 100 boards a professional torch is needed or you will get some big cramps in your hand.

We hope you found this useful! You can make it easy on yourself:

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You can access our on-line store here to have craft wood shipped to you