Friday, June 15, 2012

Pallet Time

It finally happened. I jumped on the pallet bandwagon.

The sad part is, I jumped on the pallet bandwagon about 3 months ago. But I got stuck on my project and set it aside for a long time until a light bulb went off in my head that said "Wow, you're dumb. Your original plan will work just fine, just get some longer screws." Der.

There are a LOT of pallet projects out there, as I'm sure many of you who read a blog like this are aware. Pallets are in vogue right now because being green and upcycling and being natural and using what you've got is all hip and cool. I consider myself to want to be all of those things, so I'm just as much of a bandwagoneer as the next guy (picture me hanging my head in moderate embarrassment, but not caring that much because it's the way I've been for a while.)

To get your little pallet-y brains churning, here are some of the bazillions of projects floating about on the Internets:

Is your bike always falling over? (That question is ten times funnier if you read it in Charlie's voice from It's Always Sunny regarding his "kitten mittens.") Do you enjoy wedging tires into vertical slots? Try this bike rack on for size:

Like plants? Kill them when you grow them inside? Want something that requires zero work except smooshing soil, potting mix, and your plants of choice in between some slats? Give this super simple pallet garden a go:

Prefer to at least look like you did a little DIY action? Use little planters and some plumbing rings for some industrial-natural awesomeness:

Want to bring the pallet love inside? Spruce it up with some bright paint, throw on some casters, and you've got yourself a brand new coffee table:

Like pallets so much you want to make sure they can hear your heart beating while you sleep? Consider whipping up a pallet headboard:

And this may be my all-time fave. Hopefully something similar will be incorporated into my *fingers crossed* not-so-distant-future-new-apartment-studio-space-that-will-not-be-shared-and-will-be-all-mine. How awesome would this be with some plexi-glass for a smooth work surface? It looks awesome and has a ridiculous amount of storage naturally built in. And for $free.99, I don't think you can beat the price (assuming you find someone nice to fork over some pallets free-o-charge):

So, after some perusing, I decided I wanted to get in on the pallet action, but with something I hadn't seen before. I knew I would probably use the whole pallet because I was hoping to use it as some space filler/art over the couch in our living room since that wall is about 1.5 stories high since it stretches half-way into the loft to create a bannister. Basically, we had a 14 foot fall of nothingness to fill. And I wanted something big.

I also wanted a clock.

So what do you get when you put those two things together? Wait for it...a pallet clock. Original right?

Actually, I think it's pretty cool. I picked up a wall clock kit at Hobby Lobby with a 40% off coup for about $18 to get things started (it comes with vinyl number decals to actually create a clock face, but I bailed on those; I grew up with a number-less clock above my kitchen table and don't mind clocks sans numbers). I decided to up the contrast of the pallet against the wall, so I threw some stain on after a good sanding. Because there are an even number of slats on this particular pallet, I needed something to anchor my clock to in the center, so I picked up a wooden disk (again from HL) for about $1. A couple of screws later, and she was ready to clock rock.

The major snafu I ran into was how to get this baby on the wall. I'm not sure if you've ever picked up a pallet before, but I was suuuuper surprised to feel how heavy this thing was. I'd say at least 25 ell-bees if not more. Clearly, it had to be anchored into some studs, 3 being ideal for the ultimate safety-factor considering I didn't want to spend the rest of my time in my apartment perched on the edge of my couch waiting for a pallet to rip out of the wall and squash me. But how to do this? There are big negative spaces between the "front" and "back" boards of a pallet making screwing through the front into the wall impossible...but the slat spacing of the "front" boards makes it impossible to reach around/through and drill through the "back" pieces directly into the wall. So I used my noggin and picked up one of these steel hoozi-whats-its from Lowe's for around 5 bones. I figured it was perfect since it came with tons of evenly spaced holes all ready for hanging that could easily line up with any stud distances because there's a hole every 1/2 inch or so:

Here is where I hit the snageroo. A 3-foot bar was about 2 inches short to reach cleanly from side to side to be anchored on the same horizontal plane. But a 4 footer stuck way out on the sides and looked super lame. No one at Lowe's or Home Depot could cut it for me and I certainly don't have the tools or know-how to do it myself. So I half-heartedly looked around for varying sizes but knew it was no use. I chalked it up as a fail and pretended there wasn't a pallet leaning against my dining room table in my living room for 3 months.

And then I realized I was really dumb. Like...really super duper ultra dumb. With 2-inch screws, I could easily span the negative space on the back of the pallet to make sure the steel bar still fell even across the entire back. I would illustrate this with a photo if I had thought to snap one in my excitement for overcoming my stupidity and hurriedly finishing the project and getting this thing on the wall. Womp womp. My bad.

Long story short, after screwing the bar to the pallet, marking my studs, and putting some nice 2-inch anchor screws in the wall, this project was up on the wall in no time thanks to the ease of hanging because of the numerous holes in the steel rod. They just slipped right over the screw heads. It was glorious.

Anyone else come up with some original pallet art? Link to it in the comments below--I'd love to see!

Note: External pallet project images found here, here, here, here, here, and here.