Pallet Adirondack Chair
Introduction: Pallet Adirondack Chair
Here’s a fun way to reuse wood. Make this Adirondack chair from shipping pallets or other reclaimed lumber.
Step 1: The Low-down on Pallets
Pallets come in many shapes and styles. They’re made from lots of different types of wood. They are readily available for free.
In fact, most companies pay people to take them away.
But there’s a catch: pallets aren’t easy to take apart. They’re also usually not made of very good lumber. If you use them for projects, you’re going to spend A LOT of time dismantling them and you’re not going to get much from a single pallet.
If you’re expecting perfection, than pallet lumber may not be right for you. You can try salvaging used material from places like craigslist. I collected an impressive amount of wood for my other pallet instructable, the Pallet Playhouse.
If you’re not interested in turning a pallet into something else or trucking around the nation looking for free stuff, substitute the pallet wood for some nice cedar or pressure treated wood. I made a PT set in a similar pattern that’s held up for 11+ years of direct exposure to the elements. They’re still perfectly sound. You won’t get that kind of performance from pallet wood.
Step 2: What to Look For
I get my pallets from my employer. They throw them away, into a dumpster if I don’t get to them first. They pay to have the dumpster emptied, of course, so they’re more than happy to give me as many as I want.
Only about one in ten of the pallets I came across were the kind I wanted. I tried to find ones that were brand-new, roughly 48" x 35", and were constructed of (3) notched 2’x4’s connected by 3/4" inch nominal boards (commonly called "one by" lumber.) Usually, one side is rough sawn and the other is finished. All of them were heat treated (marked "HT") and held together by nearly indestructible spiral nails.
After I posted my first pallet project to Instructables, a lot of people commented about the dangers of pesticide-treated pallets. For the record: I only use ISPM 15 certified pallets. That means that the pallets are inspected, and certified to be either heat-treated (marked HT) or fumigated with Methyl Bromide (marked BM). It also states that the pallet must be marked with either the HT or MB stamps.
I only use new, HT-marked pallets that were used solely to ship paper. I would not recommend using any pallet that is not plainly marked, but then again, it’s a free country.
Step 3: Where to Look for Them
Pallets are everywhere. As I mentioned, I get mine from my workplace, but thousands of other businesses are constantly looking for someone to take them away. I’ve gotten them from supermarkets, restaurants, and office buildings. I’ve had a number of people recommend carpet companies, furniture stores or outlets, and atv/snowmobile dealers.
I also see them up on craigslist all the time.
Step 4: Be Careful!
Working with power tools is dangerous, doubly so when working with pallets. There are hidden nails, knots, warped boards, etc. Use proper safety equipment, especially eye protection. Don’t use a power tool unless you’re familiar with it.
You could very easily get hurt, so proceed at your own risk.
Step 5: Tools You’ll Need
Tools/material you need, at minimum:
3) Drill (cordless is best, but even a hand drill will work)
4) Small bit for pilot holds (size depends on the screws you use)
5) 3/8" Spade or forstner bit for counter sinks
6) A saw of some sort– I wouldn’t try this without a circular saw, but hand saws would work.. A jig saw, band saw, and table saw would all help, too.
7) Some sort of screw driver for your screws. Power drills work best
8) Wood glue
10) Wood putty
11) 3-4 good pallets
Step 6: How to Break Them Down
I experimented with different methods, but I finally settled on this particular method of disassembling the pallets.
This is how I do it:
I start by cutting off the outside stringers (the 2×4’s) with a skill saw. Watch out for nails!
Draw a straight line on each side as a guide to cut off the outside stringers. A chalk line works well.
You’ll want to set your depth at a fraction more than the 3/4 inch board.
After you cut along each outside stringer (not the middle!), flip the pallet over and do the same on the other side.
WARNING: Pallets are usually made of the lumber that got rejected for other uses. It’s hard, often warped, has old broken nails embedded in it, and generally is just a pain to work with. Be careful. Wear goggles. Repetitive work breeds carelessness. Trust me, I know.
Some other methods:
–Cut the nails with a sawzall.
–Use a pneumatic chisel
–Use a catspaw to dig the nails out (for certain pallets, this is easy. For some, it’s darn near impossible.)
Step 7: How to Break Them Down, Continued.
Use a hammer to knock the stinger off if it’s stubborn.
Step 8: Detach the Board From the Middle Stringer.
You’ll be left with a bunch of 1X4’s and 1X6’s attached to the 2×4 in the center.
By rocking the 1×4’s and the 1×6’s back and forth, you can get the board off without totally destroying it.
There will still be quite a few ruined boards. Good for the woodstove.
Pull or remove any nails left in the board and stack it to the side. You may also want to grade your boards, based on knots, warping, bark, etc. This will help later when you try to decide what to use for what job.
Step 9: The Payoff
I usually get about (6) good 1×4’s and (3) good 1×6’s per pallet. I also get a (3) 4′ lengths of 2×4.
Turn Old Pallets Into a Chicken Tractor!
Introduction: Turn Old Pallets Into a Chicken Tractor!
Learn how to use old, discarded (free!) pallets to build a chicken tractor, reducing your carbon footprint and making your chickens happy!
9-minute video version:
What Is A Chicken Tractor?
A chicken tractor is a movable chicken cage, allowing you to keep your chickens under control while still moving them around the yard.
Why Would I Want One?
-Have your chickens till and weed your yard
-Buy less food for your chickens
-Eliminate your need for petroleum-baed fertilizers
-and, last but not least: make your chickens happy!
WARNING: please see the warning below about my use of tools in the video. This is NOT meant to encourage you to use tools beyond your skill level, and I’m not going to try and defend the safety practices (or lack thereof) in the video. Be careful, take responsibility for what you do, and don’t chop your fingers off:)
Step 1: Gather Your Materials
You’ll need the following supplies:
4 wooden pallets, or something else to create the ‘skeleton’ of your structure. These are in the garbage outside large grocery and department stores pretty much anywhere. You want the oldest, ugliest ones you can find that are still more or less intact. I used pallets that were about 45"x35", but size is flexible. It’ll make your project easier to have 4 pallets of the same size (the 5th is just torn apart for scrap wood).
-Chicken wire, or something else to keep your chickens in and cats out. This is available at any home improvement store.
-Something to shade your chickens from the rain. I used a piece of an old plastic tarp that I had laying around my yard.
-Something to secure it all together. I used staples, both 1.25" with a compressed air staple gun and .25" with a hand-powered gun.
And I used the following tools:
-Saw-zall (my favorite tool of decontruction:))
-Table saw (both this and saw-zall can be replaced by any decent hand saw + some extra patience)
-Hammer and crow bar (to separate the 5th pallet into usable scraps of wood)
-Utility blade (to cut the tarp; scissors would also do the trick)
-Hand-powered staple gun (used to secure the tarp, as the air-powered staple gun goes right through the plastic)
-Air compressor with staple gun and nail gun (overkill: a hammer with a coupla nail and some 1" staples would definitely work)
Of course, you can improvise widely on this. Just try to avoid buying (and polluting via the manufacture of) something if you can find a free, reused version (like the pallets).
Step 2: Prepare Your Pallets
I have chosen to cut my pallets in half and remove unnecessary support slats. Please be more cautious with your use of a table saw than I was! Here’s how I did this:
1. Cut your pallets in half. My 10" table saw cut deep enough to separate the halves on most sections, and I finished the others with the saw-zall.
2. Cut the middle support with the saw-zall, making sure the separated halves don’t land on your foot.
3. Remove unnecessary wood from the side of the pallet that looks like a picket fence. Save these: you’ll use them in the next step
Step 3: Create the Tractor Frame
I chose to make my frame 2 pallets long x 1 pallet wide, with the vertical being the shorter dimension of the individual pallets.
To connect the pallet sections together, I used the pieces of wood that we removed in the last step and an air-powered staple gun. Other methods of attachment will work as well, just keep in mind that you’re dealing with used, lower-quality wood that splits easily. It’s probably a good idea to stick with thinner (higher-guage) fasteners, whether you’re using screws, nails, or staples.
Order of connection doesn’t matter, just make sure to line up the pieces before connecting them together. I found it helpful to attach my joining piece to one of the pallets and then just align this assembly with the other pallet, rather than trying to grow a third arm:)
I overlapped onto the bottom section of the split pallets more, to strengthen the pallet’s joint as much as possible.
To further strengthen the design, I added a cross-piece on top by using the thicker wood in the middle of a pallet. Because this wood wasn’t long enough to reach across the tractor, I nailed 2 pieces to a small (
8 inches) board to join them together.
Step 4: Make a Gate
This part’s a bit tricky if you try to be a purist like I did and construct your gate hinge out of bits of a pallet. The challenge is to create something that keeps the gate from being pushed out from the tractor frame (the chicken wire keeps the frame from being pushed in) while still allowing you to slide the gate on and off of the chicken tractor to dock your chicken tractor against the coop. If you’re up for the challenge, check out the pictures below and the video to get a sense for the hacked-together wood shim arrangement I used. Otherwise, I recommend cheating by using 2 hinges and a latch:)
Step 5: Chicken Wire All Over
Next, coat the chicken tractor and the gate with chicken wire. This was a breeze to attach with the air staple gun, but you can use many different methods.
-The more tension you put on the wire, while stapling, the nicer the coop will look. Create tension by pulling away from the area you’d like to make taut: if i’m nailing the upper-right corner of a chicken wire ractangle, I’m pulling up and to the right while I staple.
-Make sure you don’t attach wire to the end of the tractor on which you’re placing the door, unless you want a road to nowhere:)
-If you’re buying chicken wire, purchase wire of the same height a your tractor: this will save you cutting the wire down to size.
Step 6: Create Some Chicken Shade
You wouldn’t want to hang out in direct sun all day, and you’re (probably) not covered with feathers. So, treat your chickens to a little refuge from sun and rain by attaching a impermeable barrier to the top of a section of the tractor. I covered about a third of my tractor roof with a doubled-over piece of plastic cut from an old tarp I found, and my chickens seem pretty happy with this. My air stapler went right through the plastic, so I used the hand-powered stapler to attach my roof.
Step 7: Test Chicken Acceptance!
You’re now ready to bring in the flock! You or your beautiful assistant can herd, throw, or otherwise prod your friendly poultry into their new home. If they’re extra lucky, you’ll even provide food, water, and a return to the coop at the end of the day.
Some enhancements you may want to make:
-Add wheels to one end to make the tractor easier for one person to move.
-Offer your neighbors a chicken-based lawn maintenance service.
-Create a ‘chicken tractor roomba,’ using solar power to move the chicken tractor around your yard. Of course, you’d have to name this Robot Chicken:)
Congratulations on your new superhip recycled chicken tractor, and be sure to send me a picture when you’re done!