How to Make and Save Money With Pallets

My last 9 to 5 job was an IT position. I had my own office in the front office area and in the same building was the company’s in-house print shop and the supply department warehouse. Paper for the printing presses and supplies for the warehouse all came on wood pallets. What was not taken home by employees was stacked outside the building with the hope that others would come along and take them away.

Enter the scruffy guys in old beat up pickup trucks, driving their daily routes looking for pallets to resell to pallet companies. If we happened to be outside while one of them was making the rounds we were always amazed at both the tenacity the searchers had and at how they could double stack pallets twenty high or more without losing their load. While I have not tried picking up pallets to resell them I did learn after talking to a few of the old boys that they made $1 to $3 per pallet, depending on the size and condition.

Even if you don’t work at a place where pallets are readily available there are plenty of places to find them for free. Think warehouses, manufacturers, print shops, feed stores, woodworking shops, department stores and shopping malls. I also see them all the time in the free section on Craigslist.

If gathering and reselling pallets is not to your liking, here are a few other ideas on how to both make and save money by using pallet wood. Most involve sawing them apart with a hand held circular saw or a sawzall. Gloves and eyewear protection are two safety must haves. Some kind of crowbar or pry bar and a ball peen hammer can also be necessary for dismantling.

Ideas I Have Actually Tried

Burn them. Before I made anything with pallets I used to break them up and use them for bonfires and campfires. Still do!

Build bookcases and shelving. The planks are a perfect size to accommodate CD’s, DVD’s and books.

Use them to make outdoor benches and tables. I have made these for family, friends and my own backyard and this year I am going build some and try to sell them on Craigslist.

Make a doghouse. I used a half pallet for the floor of a doghouse I built last fall.

Use them to store items off of the ground. Pretty obvious, I know. I use them in my basement to store things on and outside I use a couple to stack my firewood on.

Build window boxes and planters. Last year I built and painted a replacement window box for the front of my house that looks store bought.

Make a workbench. I have three workbenches I built that I used pallet 2 X 4 pieces for the frame and legs.

Ideas I Have Not Tried Yet

Build a fence. One of my former coworkers built a rabbit fence around his garden using pallet wood.

Make a compost bin. I have seen these before and I might end up making one but right now our compost pile is just a heap on the ground.

Use the planks to make rustic picture frames.

Build a garden shed. I would consider this but I currently don’t have the space for one.

Build cages and pens for small animals.

Make a deck. I saw this idea on the Internet but I can’t quite picture a beautiful deck made from rough pallet wood.

Use them to build raised garden beds. Another idea I might try.

Cut the planks to size and use a wood burning tool to write sayings or names. I have wanted to try using a wood burning tool and this would be a simple way to get started.

Almost all of the things to be made from wood pallets described above could not only be built for your own use but also to sell. Your cost, if you already own the tools, is usually your time and a handful of screws or nails. That makes for a pretty big profit margin.

What have you used pallets for?

Further Reading:

How to Save Money by Salvaging  

Can You Really Find Good Free Stuff on Craigslist?  

Ten Ways I Have Made Money Since Loosing My Job 

How to Find Free Firewood 


  1. I made an A-frame doghouse out of 3 pallets, stuffed with straw for insulation. I shingled it with trash-picked shingles and yard-sale roofing nails.

    My current garden space has a woven wire fence to keep the jackrabbits out, and the gate is a pallet with more of the wire fence tacked to it.

  2. These are great ways to reuse and recycle something that would otherwise end up in a landfill. The fact that you can use them to bring in additional income is awesome. Thanks for these tips.

  3. I used smooth pallet wood to make the extention on my son's "tree" fort. Trap door and everything. The only rough thing was prying the pallets apart without splitting them as the manufacturer used spiral nails.

  4. I think they get about $8-$10 for a pallet around here. But you had best not get caught lifting them you will get arrested for stealing. I live in San Diego and know pallets are just not free for the taking.

  5. This is a very informative post. I learn a lot from you. Thanks for sharing this one.

  6. Anonymous 1 – “Trash-picked shingles and yard-sale roofing nails.” You sound like my kind of person!

    ParisGirl111 – I hope you found some ideas you can use, or reuse.

    Olivia – Nice job! Usually when I discover spiral nails the pallet gets switched to firewood status.

    Anonymous 2 - $8-$10 for a pallet is not something you would get here in the Midwest. Most businesses can’t get rid of them quick enough for free! California has some of the stricter environmental and “green” policies in the country; I wonder if that might be a reason why they are not free for the taking.

    Work at Home Dad – Thank you for the nice words. Best wishes to you.

  7. Thanks for these ideas and help on how to make some extra money!


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