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Quality Pallet Wood

by Milo
posted 05-08-2013 12:57 AM


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55 replies

55 replies so far

View redSLED's profile

redSLED

687 posts in 578 days


#1 posted 05-08-2013 02:41 AM

Generally I find that all pallet wood is a crap shoot. Pallets span those put together from freshly cut unknown species that crack and twist in 24 hours when taken apart to superbly beautiful hard maple and oak that stays totally straight months after being disassembled – I have found some of these, but they’re rare. At least that is what I’ve found – that is, you cannot ascertain the ‘quality’ of the pallet wood is until you take it apart and dry it out completely first. My experience, however, is based only on approx 20-25 pallets, taken from random locations – usually retail or industrial.

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Joe Lyddon's profile

Joe Lyddon

7797 posts in 2738 days


#2 posted 05-08-2013 04:28 AM

My Guess:

When very heavy equipment is used on pallets, the pallets are probably made of Hard woods.

Otherwise, the pallets are made of more semi-hard woods…

As I said… My Guess… LOL

-- Have Fun! Joe Lyddon - Alta Loma, CA USA - Home: http://www.WoodworkStuff.net ... My Small Gallery: http://www.ncwoodworker.net/pp/showgallery.php?ppuser=1389&cat=500"

View watermark's profile

watermark

399 posts in 629 days


#3 posted 05-08-2013 05:41 AM

If you have heard any where that is bringing in furniture or large pottery from places like Thailand or Indonesia are good sources.

-- "He who has no dog, hunts with a cat" Portuguese proverb

View Milo's profile

Milo

859 posts in 2005 days


#4 posted 05-08-2013 12:35 PM

redSLED: Fear not, I fully understand it’s a crap shoot. However, it seems that it’s at least looking at, and passing, depending on what’s available.

Joe, and Watermark. Great ideas. Thanks for the feedback, everyone!

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Lee Barker's profile

Lee Barker

2169 posts in 1536 days


#5 posted 05-08-2013 12:53 PM

When we had this discussion one time before (and it’s fine to have it again) one very knowledgeable LJ wrote at length about pallets and their lives. He pointed out that any pallet you see likely belongs to someone. I still poke at interesting pallets from time to time, but I bear that in mind.

Now back to our regular programmin—searching for The Pallet!

Kindly,

Lee

-- "...in his brain, which is as dry as the remainder biscuit after a voyage, he hath strange places cramm'd with observation, the which he vents in mangled forms." --Shakespeare, "As You Like It"

View Woodmaster1's profile

Woodmaster1

498 posts in 1273 days


#6 posted 05-08-2013 12:58 PM

The last pallets I got the tops were 3/4 7 ply plywood. I am going to used them to make jigs.

View Tim's profile

Tim

1290 posts in 647 days


#7 posted 05-08-2013 01:09 PM

I’ve heard pallets are heavily treated like pressure treated lumber. Is that true?

View poopiekat's profile

poopiekat

3671 posts in 2420 days


#8 posted 05-08-2013 02:04 PM

Pallets that are used for international shipping, by regulation, have to be treated for insect control, lest we ship out little critters. However, mostly nowadays it is done by heat-treating, and you’ll know it if there is a [HT] stencil on the sides. From people I know in the industry, pallet manufacturers buy loads of second-quality wood from sawmills and other sources, wood that is too short or of poor quality for furniture. Sometimes, whole truckloads can be graded down by estimators, and off it goes to a pallet facility. This explains why you can sometimes find righteous walnut and other rarities, it gets mixed in with a whole load. Keep looking!

-- Einstein: "The intuitive mind is a sacred gift, and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift." I'm Poopiekat!!

View dhazelton's profile

dhazelton

1213 posts in 982 days


#9 posted 05-08-2013 02:15 PM

I used to get fantastic hardwood pallets from a plumbing place that sold boilers, furnaces, spas, hot tubs…mostly oak, but I swear I got a few sticks of what looks like mahogany. Someone who works there must heat with wood or something because they don’t put the pallets out anymore (sniff).

View Kaleb the Swede's profile

Kaleb the Swede

1208 posts in 655 days


#10 posted 05-08-2013 02:49 PM

I have a local sears that sells appliances and asked the manager what he was doing with the pallets and he said all they do is throw them out. He said I could take them when I want to. Also a local auto supply place near my house always has good hardwood ones that kindly said I could also have them when I want to. (His reply was all anyone uses them for is bonfires and Bull#$@t. So grab them whenever their there) Appliance places and auto parts places. Always be nice and ask, they appreciate that. There are some where they give their pallets back to whatever company ships them and don’t have to pay for them. I built my workbench out of pallets and several other projects also. Just look around and ask. Also buy a crowbar, you will need it

-- Just trying to build something beautiful

View bandit571's profile

bandit571

7125 posts in 1369 days


#11 posted 05-08-2013 04:16 PM

Skip the nailed up ones. Around here, there are a LOT of Amish “farmers” with a barn dedicated to making truckloads of pallets. They saw their own lumber, too. You could take a load of “scrap” off their hands, as otherwise, they just have a burn pile going.

Check behind stores like Walmart, and such, and see if you can have a few of theirs.

Construction sites: ASK FIRST BEFORE ENTERING! Look for a load of steel showing up, and ask about the cribbage under it. Lots of time, this is either 3×3s, or 4×4s of Oak or other hardwood. If any large machinery is going into the “new place” look at the wood under it. I saw 12×18s under a blowmolder being unloaded one year! Some were as long as the flatbed truck!

-- A Planer? I'M the planer, this is what I use

View ncwooder's profile

ncwooder

3 posts in 533 days


#12 posted 05-08-2013 08:12 PM

I have been getting pallets from my employer and have gotten some really good boards and 4×4’s that were 12’ long.These were all ht type and really good quality.Also got some good oak boards.Have to keep check often as to what is coming in but it can pay off with some good usable wood.

View Kreegan's profile

Kreegan

1452 posts in 832 days


#13 posted 05-08-2013 08:17 PM

Best source around here is this place called Leisure Time that sells hot tubs, playground equipment and above ground pools.

View DS's profile

DS

2131 posts in 1106 days


#14 posted 05-08-2013 08:32 PM

There is a Pallet factory here in Phoenix on 35th Ave down by the River. They have a sign out front that says they will buy all used pallets for $3.00
They use Pine almost exclusively there and thats about all I see used in Pallets in this area.
They mill raw logs to make the pallets. You can see lumber trucks delivering logs all the time.

Every time I drive by there the smell reminds me of Christmas time.

-- "Hard work is not defined by the difficulty of the task as much as a person's desire to perform it.", DS251

View DaddyZ's profile (online now)

DaddyZ

2414 posts in 1726 days


#15 posted 05-08-2013 08:46 PM

I work for a walk-in MFGR – We have pallets to spare, cause we have to make our own size to ship on.

A lot of oak & Pine out there, but I have gotten Cherry, Maple, Sycamore, Hickory, Mahogany, & a few other I can’t name just yet

-- Pat - Worker of Wood, Collector of Tools, Father of one

View Jimbo4's profile

Jimbo4

1145 posts in 1449 days


#16 posted 05-08-2013 10:06 PM

Tim – The answer is YES!!! As I’ve said many times here at LJs, I was a shipping/receiving manager at a retail and wholesale supply house, and 98% of all the pallets that came in were infused with some kind of insect repellent. So, beware. It’s amazing how many LJs do not believe.

-- *Arachnoleptic Fit*: The frantic dance performed just after you've accidently walked through a spider web.

View redSLED's profile

redSLED

687 posts in 578 days


#17 posted 05-09-2013 02:31 AM

My coffee table made of pallet wood (mostly maple, oak and hemlock):

-- Perfection is the difference between too much and not enough.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#18 posted 05-09-2013 03:12 AM

up-cycling as opposed to re-cycling is as much in the eye as it is in geographic location as global trading makes the world into a spot where answering your question is somewhat like comparing where a toothbrush is made.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Harley130's profile

Harley130

25 posts in 2179 days


#19 posted 05-09-2013 11:46 PM

Around here there are about half dozen full time pallet pickers, they patrol the stores that toss pallets with a trailer and load them as soon as they see them. When I worked at the Home Depot, 95% of their pallets were returnable pallets, those that weren’t they used to ship returned items back to the returns center.
The pallet pickers are not choosy about what they take, they sell them to pallet refurbishers.

-- Seldom wrong, but never in doubt. My Blog site: www.sawdustdispatch.com

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#20 posted 05-11-2013 02:35 AM

pallet diving

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#21 posted 05-11-2013 02:39 AM

its as simple as it gets

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View YanktonSD's profile

YanktonSD

190 posts in 1218 days


#22 posted 05-11-2013 02:44 AM

There is a lot of pallet manufacturer in the midwest and they mostly use cottonwood since it is so hard. I have found that they use oak when delivering tin siding for metal buildings.

View ShaneA's profile

ShaneA

5347 posts in 1284 days


#23 posted 05-11-2013 02:47 AM

Working for an Italian tile importer/distributor we get pallets all the time. Never really any exotics. Mostly R/O, Pine and W/O. We do set several out a week. With enough effort, there wood be some good wood in there from time to time. However, we generally re-use the good ones. Seems like the poorer quality ones are most likely to make it to the trash pile.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#24 posted 05-11-2013 03:00 AM

one mans journey

is anothers trail

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Milo's profile

Milo

859 posts in 2005 days


#25 posted 05-14-2013 01:12 AM

Great conversation guys!

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View BentheViking's profile

BentheViking

1752 posts in 1250 days


#26 posted 05-14-2013 01:49 AM

I work for lumber liquidators and should let you know that we rarely get pallets made from exotics. sometimes some oak pieces, but I can’t even remember if I’ve ever even seen one made 100% from oak

What we do get from time to time are sticks under the hardwood pallets that are approx 2-3” square and 40” long. Oaks and cherry with some frequency, but I’ve gotten maple, hickory, poplar, walnut, brazilian cherry, and some unidentified exotics in the past. Hopefully you don’t have anyone who works at your local store that is a wood snatcher like me!

-- It's made of wood. Real sturdy.--Chubbs Peterson

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile

FirehouseWoodworking

629 posts in 1959 days


#27 posted 05-14-2013 02:28 AM

As many have said, it’s catchers-catch-can. I work at a university and the lady who runs the shipping department is more than happy to have someone take the pallets. I am picky and only take the clean ones – and only then if they have not been treated for anything.

I just brought one home last week that looked brand new. It was all maple, even the 2-inch-thick runners!

I have also talked to the manager at our local Tractor Supply store – a farm and home supplier. While they return all their regular sized pallets, the over-sized pallets and shipping crates from implements, riding mowers, etc., are up for grabs. I’ve often times gotten pine 1×4 up to 12 or 14 feet long.

Cheers!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View GerryB's profile

GerryB

47 posts in 1268 days


#28 posted 05-14-2013 02:43 AM

Many, if not most, of the pallets I see in this corner of the world are trashy pine about 1/2” thick under stove pellets. Good exercise taking them apart, but not much else.

-- The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time. Edwin Bliss

View camps764's profile

camps764

800 posts in 1046 days


#29 posted 05-14-2013 02:54 AM

+ 1 on GerryB. 99% of the pallets I’ve seen in Omaha are trashy pine as well. The old man works at a company that gets heavy machinery shipped in – had a few of the big shipping pallets that were oak.

Fella down the street works at a company that ships in big rolls of copper tubing and other rolls of heavy stuff. All of the pallets he brings home are oak. I believe he heats his home with them in the winter.

-- Steve. Visit my website http://www.campbellwoodworking.com

View Milo's profile

Milo

859 posts in 2005 days


#30 posted 05-15-2013 12:59 AM

Ben and Dave,

Now that is interesting. I have gotten my hands on those long pieces before, Ben, and they are great for jigs and such.

Dave, got go visit Tractor Supply!

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Jeremy Greiner's profile

Jeremy Greiner

568 posts in 1458 days


#31 posted 05-15-2013 04:41 AM

I just salvaged my first set of pallets not long ago, one was southern yellow pine (I love the grain on that), many of them are oak, but another was either soft maple or birch which was a pleasant surprise. All of these pallets came from a hardwood floor dealer.

My buddy good buddy Eric (http://lumberjocks.com/Woodwrecker) who has more oak pallet wood than he has garage space told me that motorcycle dealer was a good place to get pallets.

-jeremy

-- Easy to use end grain cutting board designer: http://www.1024studios.com/cuttingboard.html

View jackthelab's profile

jackthelab

307 posts in 1379 days


#32 posted 05-15-2013 11:09 AM

Hey

You may want to check with the motorcycle dealerships or those dealers that sell PWC (jetskis) as many times those are shipped in with pallets.

-- Dave in Minnesota - If it ain't broke, improve it!

View Kreegan's profile

Kreegan

1452 posts in 832 days


#33 posted 05-19-2013 08:11 PM

Stumbled across a new one today. Check your local John Deere dealership. Apparently a lot of the smaller tractors are shipped on pallets/crates.

View Edwardnorton's profile

Edwardnorton

63 posts in 613 days


#34 posted 05-19-2013 11:44 PM

I use pallets all the time here. I get them from a home/farm store called Rural King. They have some very nice wood in their pallets. I’ve gotten Oak, Maple, Walnut, Cherry and some Hickory. I suppose there built that way because of the heavy merchandise they get in there store (automotive tools, woodworking tools, generators, tire balancers, tire changers, wood stoves,) etc

Unlike the big box stores like Menards, Lowes, Walmart, Home Depot, etc., Rural King does not reuse or put the pallets in a crusher to be tossed out like garbage. They put them outside to be hauled away by either the trash collector company OR anyone else that wants to take them.

I wait until a day after their normal delivery days and spend about 2 hours picking through 2 or 3 dozen of the pallets. As mentioned I get some very nice wood. Of course I have to take them apart, clean them from nails, screws and staples and then run them through my planer but it saves me literally hundreds of dollars by doing so.

-- EdwardNorton

View Milo's profile

Milo

859 posts in 2005 days


#35 posted 05-21-2013 01:44 AM

Edward, what part of the country is Rural King in?

-- Beer, Beer, Thank God for Beer. It's my way of keeping my mind fresh and clear...

View Edwardnorton's profile

Edwardnorton

63 posts in 613 days


#36 posted 05-24-2013 03:17 AM

Milo – The Farm Store Rural King is in Michigan, Missouri, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana & Tennessee.

-- EdwardNorton

View ProfPenguin's profile

ProfPenguin

31 posts in 567 days


#37 posted 05-24-2013 03:18 PM

I just grabbed my first load of hardwood pallets from a machine shop. I’ve been keeping my eyes open for a while as I use the soft pine pallets for compost bins, outdoor furniture, fire starters, etc.

I didn’t think anything of it when I pulled up to the pallet pile until I got out and sure enough, there were hardwood pallets in there. This was the first time I got the ok to pick through this pile and he says he gets a couple dozen every week, I’m stoked. One of the boards is a 10’ cherry 2×4 with maybe 1’ of sapwood on both ends. The center will make great boxes and small projects. The rest of the stuff I took looks to be white oak, poplar, and maple.

The white oak will be turned into a potting bench for the lady, the cherry/maple is for me. And the poplar is for painted decorations. Woot!

I had no idea that you could get hardwood pallets. They are certainly not clear wood by any means; #1 common grade at best, but its a whole lot cheaper than the alternative! Now I will be able to convince myself that a jointer and planer will be worth the investment.

Oh brother, I can hear what she’s going to say now… SWIMBO won’t be happy about this conclusion… lol

Have a great weekend guys!

View woodworkerforchrist's profile

woodworkerforchrist

129 posts in 543 days


#38 posted 05-24-2013 08:46 PM

Great source but really gotta be careful and alot of them are junk. Some nice wood csn be found though

-- Marty from MinneSNOWta

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#39 posted 05-25-2013 01:48 PM

skid projects

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View hoosier0311's profile

hoosier0311

416 posts in 711 days


#40 posted 05-28-2013 02:23 PM

Printing companies are good source for me. Much of the equipment they get in is heavy stuff. i often find pallets with 3×3 and 4×4 runners from 4 to 6 feet in length. The smaller stuff is usually Pine and Oak. Some of the supplied parts for the bindery come with a “window pane” peice on the top. This is usually poplar but it’s 8 inches wide and about 3 to 4 feet long. after jointing the edges it makes very nice thin panels suitable for the back of a chest of drawers or drawer bottoms.

-- I'm only deaf in one ear,,,,,I just can't hear out of the other one., Denny, Indiana implant, living in PA

View Edwardnorton's profile

Edwardnorton

63 posts in 613 days


#41 posted 05-29-2013 06:56 AM

I agree with woodworkerforchrist in that some of the pallet wood is crap but as I said earlier above I get a lot of good hard woods from them. I’d say about 65% of the pallets I bring home end up in the fire pit outdoors but it IS worth the 35% of good hard wood for me to still use pallets.

-- EdwardNorton

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#42 posted 05-30-2013 04:01 AM

beauty is only skin deep

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#43 posted 05-30-2013 04:38 AM

the rest

pure BS

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Natalie 's profile

Natalie

366 posts in 652 days


#44 posted 05-30-2013 04:43 AM

Woodworkers fighting over pallet wood:
My son-in-law works at Leatherman Tool Company in Portland, they let him take whatever pallet wood he wants, so he brings me some great stuff once in a while. They get materials from many sources. But he has to fight with the other hobby woodworkers who work with there. Apparently, some departments have access to much better pallet wood than others, since they use different materials. Each department is pretty territorial about their pallet wood and they all do trades. “10 of your oak boards for 5 of these walnut/mahogany”.

-- Natalie - My mind is like a bad neighborhood, I don't like to go there alone.

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#45 posted 05-30-2013 05:05 AM

go to your local drop shop

….. its free ?

putting a skid into a mud pile is harder then some might think and rescuing the pigs ear is often less expensive then seeking silk hats.

this i know

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#46 posted 05-30-2013 05:11 AM

if you can make “simple”

make sense

you win

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#47 posted 05-30-2013 05:27 AM

perspective

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#48 posted 05-30-2013 05:35 AM

be thankful for the blessings in front of you.

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#49 posted 05-30-2013 06:07 AM

vanity buries more skids then people can pick a friend who cares

dont worry

my pets are friends

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

View Moron's profile

Moron

4666 posts in 2579 days


#50 posted 05-30-2013 06:09 AM

-- "Good artists borrow, great artists steal”…..Picasso

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