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Picture of Wooden Planter - Easy Recycled Pallet Project for Your Garden


Below you will find a step-by-step guide to making an “almost free” wooden planter from euro pallets. Almost free as you will need some paint and... well that’s about it! I hope you will find it useful.

Any questions please get in touch!

Step 1: What Will You Need?

Picture of What Will You Need?


2 pallets ( I used the EURO pallets as the timber is thicker and generally better )

Decking Stain ( or any other weatherproofing paint or stain )

Wood Glue


Table Saw


Ogee Router Bit

Mitre Saw

Speed Square or Set Square

Tape Measure


Ratchet Strap or Angle Clamps

Angle Grinder

Hook and Loop Pad for Sanding


Those looks great. Do you have to worry about any chemicals that have been applied to the pallets?

In my experience, I have found it depends on who/where you’re getting your pallets from. The cleaner the pallet, is usually a good sign of light use without major contaminate exposure. However, if you’re getting pallets from an industrial source, chances are the wood has had some exposure to various chemicals or oils leaked/dripped/splashed on it.
In this case, you may not be able to get the wood cleaned completely, but a light planing and/or sanding along with any staining/sealing can lower the risk of external exposure/contamination. This of course depends on the particular use designation.

For vegetable growing, I wouldn't put anything on the wood. It's free and will last for a good few seasons.


I know some pallets are treated but I do not think there were any chemicals applied to these particular pallets.

I did apply PVA on the inside of the planter to seal the timber. PVA once dried, doesn't react with water hence is safe for the plants. If you are still worried about any chemicals getting into the soil why don't you staple some bubble wrap to the inside of the planter before adding the soil? It will not only protect the wood from any moisture but also protect roots during winter time.

Hope this helps

sgbotsford1 year ago

"Once you get your pallets apart..." I find that I only get about 1 board in 3 off the pallet intact, and even that is badly mangled. After some struggle, I've come to the conclusion that it's not worth the aggravation.

Caveats: When you water the planters dirty water come through the joints. Line the box sides, but not the bottom, with black construction polyethylene plastic will reduce this.

Dirty water also comes out of the base. If you are on a deck this can be unsightly. Either build in directed drainage, or don't put on a deck.

A wood planter like this has a fairly short lifespan. One side is continually moist. After about 5 years of growing season time, the wood will be falling apart.

One way around this problem: Get some large nursery pots -- the ones used to sell trees. 5 gallon pails work too. Size the planter to hold 3 or 4 of these. Do the planting in the pots, set the pots in the planter box. This also allows you to do tricks like:

* Keep a set of inserts with tulips and daffodils in them. They go in the planter in spring, and come out when they are done.

* Meanwhile you have another set with summer lilies, and a third set with autumn lilies. The ones that aren't in the planter are in the back yard getting ready for next year.

* In winter you can remove all the inserts, put the planter upside down on blocks to dry out. You can apply another coat of stain, etc.

I have found the best way to disassemble a pallet is by standing it up on one side and using a reciprocating saw with a long bi-metal blade. My personal recommendation is the Porter Cable 360° sawsall. Instead of prying them apart, simply cut right through the nails. The gap between the planks and the rails makes a perfect automatic guide, better yet, you will save time, energy, and recover 100% of the pallet wood. There will be nails that stay in the wood and some that fall out on their own after you cut them, creating small holes.

As for the leaking: I use either thick quality industrial trash bags that I cut or layers of newspaper to line the bottom and lower sides. You can staple the lining along the sides which helps prevent black water from leaching out creating unsightly stains on wood, concrete, etc. I would also recommend a 3/4” drain hole on the bottom or back. You can use a small piece of pvc pipe or cut a piece of water hose if you have a scrap hose you planned to toss. You can fashion some rocks near the drain on the inside to create a space for the drain water to pool before it exits. Just make sure to cut the lining so the water can drain in the proper place.

Hope this helps.

Hmm. Don't seem to be able to respond to an answer any more.

PVA is only moderately water resistant. I wouldn't expect it to last longer than a year.

Wood is a natural material. It changes dimensions with changing humidity. Look at any cabinet. Changing shapes are the reason behind rail/stile and panel construction. let alone being rained on and with a block of variable moisture dirt adjacent to it. It *will* leak. I did this with oak barrel planters. Turned them over, and banged the rings on until they were very tight, then secured with screws. 2 years of weather cycles later there is a 1/16 gap between each stave. In wet weather they expand, and compress the edge wood. Next time they dry they open up. There is a reason people tell you to not let hardwood floors get wet.

_woodify_ (author)  sgbotsford1 year ago

Hi there,

Thank you for your comment.

For an easy guide on how to salvage 100% timber (and even the nails) from your pallets please follow the link below:

Regarding the nursery pots, in my humble opinion, it defeats the purpose of the project itself... To extend the lifespan of a wooden planter, simply treat the inside with undiluted PVA. This will create almost plastic like layer preventing any water soaking into the wood.

If you put your boards together tight enough you should not have any issues with water leaking through the joints. If you, however, still have an issue, why don't you staple some bubble wrap to the inside of the planter? This will not only waterproof your project but will also protect roots from frost.

Regarding the water getting on the decking, the easiest solution is to put your planters just over the edge of the decking in the way that small part of your planter is suspended in the air. Then drill some drainage holes in your planter, so all the extra water drains off to the soil, not on the decking.

Hope this helps!

LisaY261 year ago

How do u pull apart pallets without breaking the wood please?

I'd use my Sawsall (reciprocating saw) with a metal cutting blade and cut the nails holding the pallet together. Works good, last long time.

_woodify_ (author)  LisaY261 year ago

Hi Lisa,

Just follow the steps in the guide below:

The trick is to put the pressure on the square blocks, not on the timber planks.

Hope this helps!

U need to use a wood piece to create a base and another one to lift it up

Tarantula31 year ago

Great love it