Amazing Pallet Furniture by Ed

One of my readers sent me a few photos of some furniture he made from pallet wood. It’s amazing what you can do with scrap wood with a little patience, time, and the right skills.I really like the variety of different finishes he’s used on them. Some look like antique furniture and in others you can see the pallet wood origins a little more clearly. I think you’ll agree that this is amazing stuff and that there really is something poetic about pallets… I’m not just making it up :-). Thanks again Ed!

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13 thoughts on “Amazing Pallet Furniture by Ed

  1. It’s so great to see folks putting to good use what is otherwise considered waste material!

    A word of caution on pallets: sometimes they are treated with preservatives, pesticides, and/or fungicides (e.g., chromated copper arsenate (CCA), creosote, copper-8-quinolinate, chlorpyrifos, and oxine-copper) [http://www.aphis.usda.gov/newsroom/hot_issues/alb/swpm/swpmsum.html]. For more information on the listed chemicals, go to the EPA website at http://www.epa.gov and use the search feature at the top.

  2. Karen… you’re right that pallet wood, like any salvaged wood, has a hidden past and should be used with caution. It should also never be burned because fumigants could be locked inside.

    The good news about fumigants is that the tend to be very volatile and dissipate quickly leaving little residue. When my tiny free house is complete I’ll have the interior air quality tested and I’m certain it will test cleaner than a new home. But just to be sure I’m not fooling myself I will test it. :-)

  3. I like that phrase “hidden past.” :-)

    Aside from fumigants, there are the preservatives, etc. that become bound to the wood itself. I found this informative article [http://www.finegardening.com/design/articles/pressure-treated-wood-in-beds.aspx] on pressure-treated wood that discusses chromated copper arsenate (CCA), a common chemical used in the pressure-treating of wood. Though the article’s focus is on using such wood for gardening purposes, the health and safety precautions presented in the section titled “If you use CCA lumber…” that are applicable to using similarly treated pallet wood. My whole purpose for bringing this up is my concern for the health and safety of those creative and resourceful individuals who are using otherwise discarded materials for the betterment of people and the planet.

    Regarding testing the indoor air quality of your tiny free house:

    I would recommend utilizing a photoionization device (PID) and “sniff” the air for VOCs after the house has been sealed shut (i.e., all windows, doors, and other openings completely closed) for 48 hours in warm weather. If you intend to use combustion appliances (e.g., propane or natural-gas heater or cooking burner), then testing for CO and CO2 using a direct-read instrument under the same conditions would be prudent. Test floor-level, seated breathing-level, standing breathing-level, and sleeping loft heights with both instruments.

    As an alternative, direct-read colorimetric tubes (e.g., Drager, RAE) can be utilized for a general screening of the constituents. There are tubes for specific VOCs, but not VOCs in general. I consider the tubes an “analog” and static method of detection, whereas the instruments are digital and dynamic. But, tubes are less expensive than equipment rental and shipping/insurance, and may be more appropriate for screening a smaller space.

    If you wish, I would be glad to discuss this further with you on this post or via email.

    Best wishes!

  4. Excellent info Karen. Thanks!

    Any idea of there is an easy way to test wood for toxins?

    My plan has been to test it once it was finished by leveraging some expertise from a local university. But I’d love to be able to test individual pallets, but have not found anything. I’ve asked around a bit and it seems testing for chemicals is a very complex and expensive task.

  5. Indeed testing can be complicated and expensive road to travel. If there is a wood pallet manufacturers association, contact them to ask if there are standardized identifying marks on the pallets indicating pressure-treated or non-pressure-treated, etc. Of course this does not address fumigants, but I think you were on the right track when you mentioned VOCs dissipate eventually. Perhaps “baking” the pallets you want to use in the hot summer sun for a week or two would bake out most of the VOCs.

    I’ll keep my eyes and ears open on info. that would be useful to this topic of pallet re-use.

  6. Keep up the good work and keep posting. I want to see your progress and the finished product! I am thinking about building a tiny house of my own sometime soon…if I can build up the courage.

  7. I like that phrase “hidden past.” :-) Aside from fumigants, there are the preservatives, etc. that become bound to the wood itself. I found this informative article [http://www.finegardening.com/design/articles/pressure-treated-wood-in-beds.aspx] on pressure-treated wood that discusses chromated copper arsenate (CCA), a common chemical used in the pressure-treating of wood. Though the article’s focus is on using such wood for gardening purposes, the health and safety precautions presented in the section titled “If you use CCA lumber…” that are applicable to using similarly treated pallet wood. My whole purpose for bringing this up is my concern for the health and safety of those creative and resourceful individuals who are using otherwise discarded materials for the betterment of people and the planet. Regarding testing the indoor air quality of your tiny free house: I would recommend utilizing a photoionization device (PID) and “sniff” the air for VOCs after the house has been sealed shut (i.e., all windows, doors, and other openings completely closed) for 48 hours in warm weather. If you intend to use combustion appliances (e.g., propane or natural-gas heater or cooking burner), then testing for CO and CO2 using a direct-read instrument under the same conditions would be prudent. Test floor-level, seated breathing-level, standing breathing-level, and sleeping loft heights with both instruments. As an alternative, direct-read colorimetric tubes (e.g., Drager, RAE) can be utilized for a general screening of the constituents. There are tubes for specific VOCs, but not VOCs in general. I consider the tubes an “analog” and static method of detection, whereas the instruments are digital and dynamic. But, tubes are less expensive than equipment rental and shipping/insurance, and may be more appropriate for screening a smaller space. If you wish, I would be glad to discuss this further with you on this post or via email. Best wishes!

  8. look for the wheat stamp logo. the firs letters tell country fof origin of wood. the second set of letters tells type of treatment. kd, kiln-dried, db, debarked, ht, heat treated, mb, methyl bromide, stay away from mb. I have yet to see a pressure treated pallet. I have been scrounging pallets for years. generally only pallets that ship food over seas are fumigated w/ mb. every time a pallet recieves a new treatment it is required to be stamped. I go through mountainous piles of pallets at a friends wood recycling center and rarely do I see the mb, logo. Pressure treated wood is greenish, sometimes gray w/ age. you can always dig in w/ a pocket knife to see if the green is inside older pallets. as a rule I never use pallets made in china, cause you never know what they put on theirs. I built a shed w/ pallet wood, chicken coop, outhouse, ladder. Don’t worry so much. be informed, when in doubt throw it out. I’ve been burning pallet wood for years.
    also, you will find more voc’s in the plywood glue and styrofoam than in a piece of pine or poplar pallet. I don’t use plywood for that very reason. Styrofoam is a petroleum byproduct full of harmful toxins including formaldehyde. fiberglass or clean straw like the amish use.

  9. I believe sealing the wood would help lock-up any residue. But since there’s no way to really know the history of each pallet there’s no way to know 100%. But then again… with new composite materials (plywood, osb, mdf, etc) you know for sure they are off-gassing something.

  10. I agree with dan f. I don’t believe that pallets are pressure treated simply because of the extra expense and also PTing would limit what could be shipped on a pallet. Great work on the house. I will be following your progress with interest.

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