If you’re the kind of person who likes to be prepared for various contingencies, then chances are you’re also aware of how expensive that can get. It’s not just buying the food or ammo or gear, it’s having a place to put it all.
You might even want to branch out into getting a few farm animals, extra firewood, or one of a million other things designed to increase your homestead’s ability to provide for you and your family. Lumber is expensive, however, and the cost of building all of these new projects can quickly make them seem like unattainable dreams instead of the reality you seek.
However, there’s an incredible source of free lumber right under your nose in the form of pallets. In many cases, they’re easy to find and easy to get — and they can be used in all manner of projects.
What Are Pallets?
Pallets are used to ship various supplies to businesses, and once the goods are offloaded most businesses have no use for them. They are made out of wood or plastic, and while you could certainly find some use for a plastic one, the most desirable pallets are wood. They’re often made out of pine or oak and are usually heat-treated. They’re safe to use and can be excellent both left intact or disassembled for the individual lumber pieces. They come in a variety of sizes and strengths, and are more versatile than just about anything else you’ll find for free.
Where Can You Find Them?
Businesses often leave the pallets outside, and in many cases they’re free for the taking. Keep in mind, however, that not all pallets you see outside are free. Obviously, it’s always a good idea to ask the business before taking them. If they charge a price for them, it’s up to you if you want to do that. Sometimes, the extra-large ones are worth more, but there are plenty of free ones around.
Construction sites, grocery stores, hardware stores, pet shops and many more kinds of businesses are great places to check for pallets. Some might have a third-party service that they pay to take the pallets away. If you’re willing to do it for free, they may even make a deal with you to take over that duty. You can’t really have too many, especially if you have some larger projects to build.
You can also check out Craigslist or social media marketplaces for individuals who are trying to get rid of pallets.
What Can You Make?
The sky is almost the limit when it comes to using pallets, and you can find literally thousands of ideas online. Here’s just a sampling of what’s possible:
- Shelters, pens, or even barns for livestock; pigs, goats, and chickens can thrive in a pallet barn or coop
- Raised beds or planters for your garden
- Sheds for tools or supplies
- Furniture and interior design, from coffee tables to photo frames, baker’s racks, and more. If it’s made out of wood, you can probably use a pallet to build it
- You can even build garages and homes with pallets!
There are many websites offering ideas for pallet projects, and some even have full blueprints just like you’d find for a lumber project. Others have how-to videos and other resources to help you.
No Curb Appeal?
Will something made from pallets look rough or cheap? The short answer is no, they don’t have to. In fact, you can do anything from a quick-and-dirty woodshed using the assembled pallets as is, all the way up to a tiny house or small barn using the pallet wood as actual siding. Like any other project, it’s all about what you put into it.
Some folks are more interested in function vs. aesthetics, and so their barn may use the assembled pallets as the frame. Plywood on either side can keep the weather out, and some even put insulation inside the pallet. If you wanted to get a bit more fancy, you could even use sheet rock on the inside.
Some of the plans for various projects are just as free as the pallets themselves. Others you pay for but get additional resources as well. You can start simple, with a raised bed or planter, or go big right out of the gate and make a barn for your newly acquired sustainable meat animals. Whatever you choose, you’re only limited by your own creativity.
What will you build first?
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