When the floor of the storage room at our church began to fill up, and it became difficult to walk in, I looked around for some inexpensive way to make use of our vertical space. Since pallet wood has enjoyed a large degree of popularity as a good source of inexpensive wood, I was delighted when someone told me that there was the possibility of getting some pallets for me to work with. The design I came up with takes at least two, but no more than three, standard pallets.
The hardest part of working with pallets is taking them apart. I could not find any simple way of doing this. I worked with a pry bar and two hammers and invested some time into this part. After a little while, I seemed to get a feel for the best way to remove the individual nails without splitting the wood. Sometimes the wood did split and I used some wood glue to strengthen it again. The good news with my design is that the shelves are made from the pallet without having to remove all the boards. I removed the wood from the bottom only of one pallet and then cut though the support boards to create equally-sized shelves as seen in the above photo.
In order to strengthen the center supporting board on each shelf, I used two of the boards that I had removed from the first pallet to nail to the front and back of each shelf. In the upside-down position seen here, it made the shelf look something like a shallow box. I made four of these for the shelf unit that I made since I was trying to conserve space in the storage room, but three of them will still make a very nice shelving unit.
This photo shows how I assembled my shelf. I attached the shelves together with three of the salvaged boards at each end. This gave me a three-shelf unit that was the length of a standard pallet. To add the fourth shelf, I had to cut some of the boards into thin strips to insert into the spaces between the supporting end boards so that the top shelf supports would be held in place so that they could not slide off. Also, to help strengthen the corners and prevent it from wiggling from side-to-side, I also nailed a board vertically on each end of the back of the lower portion of the shelf. These two boards can be seen in the photo to the left.
Pallet wood is generally very rough wood. To help protect people from splinters, I used a palm sander to smooth down all the surfaces. I suppose that I could have painted it, but though that would have helped in preventing splinters, it would also have added to the cost of the project. Besides, it really did not have to be a work of art. I just needed a place to store our church supplies! This has been serving well to meet that need.