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Old 02-11-2014, 08:56 AM   #1
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Planing pallet wood


I have acquired some pallets that are heat treated and am looking to use them to build some small pieces of furniture in my home.

The issue I'm running into is smoothing out the surfaces and straightening out the boards. I've built a workbench and miter saw table/stand and step stool using the pallet wood.

The two other pieces of furniture I'd like to build are a TV stand for our 50" rear projection TV and a bench for our entryway.

I would like some opinions on what kind of finishes I could use on the wood.

Should I just leave it looking rustic with a coat of urethane or try to plane and sand the wood down and stain and urethane it?

I don't think I want to paint it because of the quality of the wood and the amount of work to get it ready to paint.

I've also been looking at buying a planer. If money wasn't an issue I'd buy a thickness planer or a combo planer/jointer. So my options are a handheld block planer or an electric planer from harbor freight. They have two handheld electric planers and obviously the more expensive one has better reviews.

Basically it boils down to how rustic or how professional looking I want them to look. That will determine which planer I will end up buying.

Because most pallet wood is hardwood, using my belt sander is very slow going.

Does anyone have any prior experience in working with pallet wood or rough hardwood to give me some pointers and advice?

I don't have a lot of finishing tools. I have a compound miter saw, table saw, circular saw, jig saw, belt and jig sander and drills. Those are the extent of my power tools.

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Old 02-11-2014, 10:35 AM   #2
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Planing pallet wood


Make sure you go through the pallets and sort according to condition and type of wood(if possible). Not all pallets are hardwood and could be some strange species.

Nails and nail holes/stains could be a problem or a character builder.

Obviously, you will have the surface the wood to your desires.

There is a wide range of pallets. Some may be cheap junk that was not usable, some are given away to eliminate the problems with disposal. Where I previously worked, we had about 40,000 pallets at any one time used for outdoor storage ranging from throw-away pallets for bagged cement to heavy duty 48x48 heavy duty pallets with 4 rails and two-way entering that carried well over 4000#. Of course, the wood was not kiln dried.

We had a steady list of people that wanted old pallets. One person got a 100 or so that turned out to be rough sawed walnut and nail holes and stains were and asset for him in the end.

Good luck and sort well.

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Old 02-11-2014, 10:59 AM   #3
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Planing pallet wood


Thanks for the reply and the reminder to sort the wood by species and grade. I just picked up two pretty decent pallets that I believe are white oak. I've made the mistake in the past of using a piece of walnut, I believe, in building my miter saw station as part of the structure when it could've been used somewhere else to highlight the color of the wood.

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Old 02-11-2014, 03:11 PM   #4
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Planing pallet wood


I use pallet wood sometimes really don't see how to make it work without a surface planer and jointer. Just picked up a good surface planer from craigslist last week, $150 and got a new set of blades with it.
One thing about pallet wood to remember nails and stables are your enemy and are very good at hiding. Hit just one and your blade is shot. And as for finish that is going to depend a lot on the species of wood you find and how you prep it.
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Old 02-11-2014, 03:13 PM   #5
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Planing pallet wood


No way if I wanted it to look like finished wood would I be using a small electric hand plane unless you have lots of free time for sanding the grove out in the middle.
Checked out Craigs List under tools for a used planner?
How wide are these boards? If there less then 6" a jointer would do the whole job.
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Old 02-11-2014, 08:43 PM   #6
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Planing pallet wood


Well I went and bought this planer from Harbor Freight. All the reviews are pretty good and I bought the 2 year free replacement warranty on it.

http://m.harborfreight.com/3-1-4-qua...ner-95838.html

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Old 02-12-2014, 11:37 AM   #7
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Planing pallet wood


I'm very curious to hear how the handheld planer does on that job. Please keep us informed.
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Old 02-14-2014, 04:47 AM   #8
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Planing pallet wood


The planing is going pretty good. It definitely has a learning curve to using it trying to make sure I have a 90 edge on the wood. The boards I've been planing are about 1/2"-3/4" thick so I have been stacking and doing three at once with it. I'm basically only planing one edge so I can rip them down to width that I want on my table saw and then glue them together to make a top for my TV stand. The ones that I'm using right now are oak. I had thought about just using plywood for the top but I think this will look much nicer. I'm hoping it will look like a wood floor with planks and the joints staggered. I can post pictures as I make more progress on it. It may be a while before I can really devote a lot of time on it as I have a couple of other projects to work on at home. Don't we all, though?

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Old 02-14-2014, 04:53 AM   #9
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Planing pallet wood


I know there are simpler and quicker ways to making a TV stand but I just enjoy using the pallet wood. If it were just up to me, I'd leave the wood looking rustic and putting a coat of urethane on it. But I'm not single. I really hate most of the TV stands out there that are made of pressed wood and particle board. The stand that we are using right now from IKEA is so wobbly I feel like it's going to just collapse one of these days.

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Old 04-23-2014, 07:15 AM   #10
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Planing pallet wood


So to update on the process. Yes I'm still building this. Two kids under 4 and my wife works so I work on it when I have the time. I will post some pictures on my progress. I have made a plan on sketchup. I also took back the power planer from harbor freight as it wasn't the right tool for the job. I ended up acquiring an old Stanley no. 4 Jack plane that belonged to my grandfather and am using it to plane the pallet wood.

The white oak isn't white oak. It is pine and doesn't plane very good. A fair amount of the grain started to tear out. I also acquired couple of other pallets which are oak I believe and the top is all planed and glued and cut to my dimensions.

My hand planing skill is getting better each time I do it and is very enjoyable and rewarding. I had hit a snag when I had to replace a bearing in my craftsman table saw motor. It's now back up and running smoother and quieter.

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Old 04-23-2014, 09:25 AM   #11
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Planing pallet wood


When you are planing, look at the edge grain and make sure your plane is running so that the grain is running upwards. If you plane is pushed across the the grain running downward it will take out chunks.
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Old 04-23-2014, 09:40 AM   #12
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Planing pallet wood


Quote:
Originally Posted by landfillwizard View Post
When you are planing, look at the edge grain and make sure your plane is running so that the grain is running upwards. If you plane is pushed across the the grain running downward it will take out chunks.
Thanks for the tip. I think I have read that somewhere too, but of course it was after the damage was done.

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