December 1, 2009

Pallets

For a number of reasons, wooden shipping pallets have been an integral part of many projects this year. Each board has a unique texture and color, created by years of abuse. Reproducing this look effectively would be near impossible. Most are uniform and size and are inherently strong, which makes them ideal for stacking and building simple structures. Best of all, they're almost always free, which helps when working with little to no budget.

Pallets are not without their faults though. Dismantling one is an arduous task, especially if you're trying to get the most out of it. An average pallets yields only 10 sq/ft of planking, assuming there is no significant damage. The upright 2x4s are usually discarded, as they are so riddled with nails they would destroy most saw blades. Another problem arises with the quality of the wood. Pallets are usually constructed from low end timber which is often warped. Individual boards are also weaker and unreliable, which makes them a poor choice for structual elements. For this reason, I tend to treat it like a veneer, using it to face sturdier material.

Pictured above is the smallest of 9 modular pieces that make up my current project. It will be my last to use pallets for the time being. Not only will I be using up most of my stock, but I want to start experimenting with higher grade materials and new methods this coming year. But first I need to finish the "Blues Altar" which goes up this week.

- they're also a great way to move a corpse.

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