I was unloading the truck today and got a better look at some pallets I recently picked up. They had been posted on craigslist and set beside a dumpster. I business giving them away was a place that sells wine and several of the pallets were extremely heavy duty. I guess that makes sense; wine is really heavy and you wouldn’t want the pallet to fall apart on you. There were also some good standard pallets. This picture shows the variety of pallets pretty well… they really is so much diversity.
The pallet on the left is the heavy duty pallet and will be dismantled and probably remade into cabinets and shelves. You can see it’s a 2-way pallet and lacks the fork lift fork notches like most standard pallets. This is great for me because I’ll be able to make good use of the solid 2x4s. The pallet on the right is a standard 48″ by 40″ 4-way pallet which will probably become part of the roof. It’s fairly light weight and should be strait enough. It’s got a little bow to it but that shouldn’t be too big of a problem.
Just a quick lesson in pallet quality. Julia spotted four pallets today while we were running errands. We swung around, asked if we could have them, tossed them in the back of the truck, and were off. When I unloaded them I noticed one of them wasn’t so good. The 2x4s were a bit too worn and there were lots of stains. I’ll probably take this one apart and see if any of the slats are usable. I think the 2×4 might be toast but once I get the slats off I’ll know for sure. Mostly I’m looking for rot or serious damage. The wood is definitely hardwood and the pallet is very heavy. Here’s the ‘bad’ pallet:
Below is an example of a very usable pallet from the same load. It’s a standard 40′ by 48′ pallet, sturdy, unstained, not too weathered, and fairly light weight. I suspect the wood is fir. This is the kind of pallet that makes building easy. Soft wood is much easier to work with and when the pallets are in good condition and a standard size they need very little preparation before they can become part of a wall, floor, or roof.
I’ll just screw 2x4s onto the open ends of this one and it will be good to go. I plan to do a lot of this kind of work this week so I can arrive at the farm the next time with a full load of prepared pallets. It will make the construction go much faster.
As I’ve been diving into the world of scavenging on craigslist.org I’ve learned 6 important lessons I thought I’d share with you.
1. Move Fast
Stuff goes really fast, especially the good stuff. Keep a close eye on craigslist or even setup an RSS reader with your favorite searches bookmarked. Be ready to jump in the truck at a moments notice. Be prepared to let good stuff go if you can’t get there quickly.
2. Good Stuff Gets Flagged
It seems the professional scavengers flag the things they want to prevent other people from getting to it before they do. I’m not going to stoop to this dirty trick but knowing that it’s happening is keeping me more on my toes.
3. The Is No ‘DIBBS’
Nobody giving stuff away free will hold it for you. Hey man it’s free and on the curb. First come first serve. Survival of the quickest.
4. Some Stuff Isn’t Even Worth Free
There is a lot of really strange and truly worthless stuff on craigslist. Actually it’s kind of funny to browse the photos and see what people are giving away. Sometimes they include little stories about the stuff which makes the reading all the funnier. My wife Julia ran across one ad for a bunch of almost new pottery barn furniture with a description that went something like this… “My girlfriend dumped me and moved out, the furniture is in the driveway, I’d like it all gone quick.” Sad but funny.
5. Avoid Pee
Avoid anything that absorbs pee like mattresses, sofas, and chairs. If it’s free and it absorbs pee it probably has been peed on. We grabbed a very nice free sofa off a curb a couple blocks away, put it in the garage overnight, and guess what our garage smelled like the next morning? Luckily I wasn’t the only one who didn’t know about rule number 5. I posted it on craigslist and three hours later it was gone.
6. Bring A Free Sign With You
I learned this little trick from the people at Gomi Style. The free sign is handy for any dumpster diver trying to explain themselves to anyone that inquires about what you’re up to . I’m not sure I have the gonads to pickup stuff wthout permission but keeping the free sign in the truck makes me feel better.