First of all, I would like to thank Allison for inviting me to post while she is caring for that sweet baby boy! I’m Brenna from Domestic Charm. I am so excited to be here!
Recently I took my first dive into the pool of working with pallet wood. I had seen so many amazing projects out there, that I just had to give it a shot! And true to my form, I didn’t read any tutorials or watch any videos. I decided I was going to put the wood on a tabletop for a client. She gave me a side table and said “Have fun!” I just dove in, head first. And because of that, I learned a lot. For those of you out there like me, I wanted to share with you the things I learned the hard way. So you can save yourself from little frustrations.
1. To quote Forrest Gump, pallet wood “is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.” That means that you don’t know if some pieces of wood are going to be cedar, or oak, or pine, etc. So you can’t plan on any of it looking the same. It all will sand differently. Have different grain. Some boards will be soft, some very hard and some will splinter very easily. So plan to be surprised!
2. Get out the claw (hammer that is). Pallet wood is used and reused. It is nailed down and pulled up and nailed down again. There will be lots of nails. LOTS OF NAILS. I pulled out lots of nails with my claw hammer. You could also just trim them off. I did that to a few using my Dremel and the pipe cutting attachment, but the sparks made me nervous. Plus, pulling nails with my claw hammer made me feel tough, like a construction worker.
3. Power tools are your friends. If you are not comfortable using them, think twice about using pallet wood. I used my Dremel, my sander, my table saw and my hand held saw. Make sure the batteries are charged up on any tools needing them. It can be pretty aggravating when you are in the middle of a project and the battery on your sander dies. Trust me. I know this first hand.
4. Soak it up. That is exactly what pallet wood will do with stain. It will drink up that stain like a thirsty athlete. So, my suggestion is to dampen the wood with a wet towel. Don’t soak it. Just dampen it. This will open the wood grain and allow the stain to get in there without becoming spotty. It may take several coats of stain to get your desired color too, because the wood will be drinking up so much.
5. Imperfect is perfect. That is why we love working with pallet wood, right? It has that patina and old, weathered charm. Don’t get frustrated if the surface isn’t smooth or if the stain doesn’t take to each piece of wood like you wanted (refer to #1 and #4). It is perfect in its imperfection. And you did a great job no matter what you think!
Thank you Brenna for sharing your awesome tips on working with pallet wood!