Emily let you know yesterday that I’d be sharing my latest project, which interestingly enough, was finished on Earth Day. Long ago I had an idea… I thought, “why not try to make something cool out of a pallet?”  I’ve always wanted an Adirondack chair and it seemed like the pieces of wood it takes to make one could be easily made from pallet pieces.

There are a ton of pallet uses you can find online, but most of the stuff I’ve seen maintains their basic pallet structure. My goal was to make a chair that no one expects to be made from a pallet, yet doesn’t lose the unique qualities, that custom feel that you get from reclaimed wood.

I found some pallets that were being given away on Craigslist and picked them up. Pallets in hand, I started tried to figure out the easiest way to break them apart. The nails they use in pallets are extremely hard to remove without destroying the wood. I found a video online of a guy who dropped a heavy object on one part while propping the other side on a brick. Very cartoonish, but it seemed to work pretty well, so I gave it a shot. After a couple dozen throws with a cinder block (and Emily imagining me to be Peeta from the Hunger Games), I realized that I needed a sledge hammer. I found one at an estate sale for $6 and the pallets were broken down in no time.

After sorting the wood into piles, I started to plan out my chair. At first I thought I might just wing it and make it up as I went, but I figured there would be a lot more trial, and LOT more error if I did that, so I went online once again to find chair plans. Lowes had a decent set of plans, including a cut list, supply list and some tutorial videos that I used when I got stumped.

Finally, I got to work. I started by finding boards that were the closest match to what the plans called for. I had most of what I needed but was missing a few things. At that point I had two options: buy one board for the project or alter the plans and continue to make a 100% pallet chair. I decided “why stop now?” and went for the modification to keep it 100% pallet. I never been one to follow directions too closely anyway.

Nights after work, I’d try to squeeze in a hour or two of sanding on all the pieces. It was amazing how a little sanding brought out these great pieces of wood! I don’t know what kinds for sure, but I know I have some oak and maybe some birch boards in the mix. You typically wouldn’t do a project out of more than one type of wood, but I think that is what makes this chair cool. I also didn’t want to sand away all the markings of the woods’ old life, so I left some nail holes,  saw marks, staple tears, and dark stains. I feel, again, like these are the details that make this chair unique and cool.

Once I had all the pieces and sanded them down, I made a quick list and bought the few supplies I needed – just screws, bolts, and a finish. As I began to lay out the pieces, I decided to try and alternate the different types of wood to try and really emphasize what makes this chair different.

Really, the sanding is what took at least 60% of the time on this project. Once I had that done, it came together very fast. In fact, it worked out perfectly that I was ready to wrap the project up on Earth Day! My pallet chair seemed like a great example of up-cycling.


The last thing I needed to do was put a nice finish on it. I went back and forth forever between painting it to cover all it’s scars or staining it to let them show through.  My friend Nate finally talked me into going with a simple oil treatment that would actually show off all those things that make the chair different. I put two quick coats of Teak Oil on the chair and just like that, it was done! I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out – maybe once my back is not so sore, I’ll dive into making it a sister so Emily and I can both lounge on them during the hot summer days, sipping on some ice tea (me) and lemonade (Emily).

What do you think? Have you made anything out of something else? How did you celebrate Earth Day? We’d love to hear from you.

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