40 Fun and Functional Woodworking Projects to Do With Pallets or 2x4s

Trista - May 11, 2019

With spring in the air, it’s hard to resist the call of the garage and power tools. What is more fun than a Saturday spent creating a beautiful new piece of decor for your home, all with your own two hands! Reclaimed pallets and 2x4s are both cheap, simple woods that are versatile enough to be used in countless decor projects from candle holders to picnic tables. Read on for 40 ideas on how to use both sources to create fresh, fun items for spring.

Safety note: when looking for pallets, always stay safe by reading the stamps in the wood that determine the country of origin and any treatment provided to the wood. If you see [MB] stamps, avoid these as they are treated with the broad spectrum pesticide Methyl Bromide and are not safe for indoor craft use. Similarly, do not use chemically treated 2x4s meant for outdoor use for indoor crafts or furniture.

Making Joy and Pretty Things

1. Floral Centerpiece

Small pieces of 2×4 lumber can be combined in any number of creative ways to make a decorative centerpiece for your table. A centerpiece is a great starting project, as it will introduce you to make mitered cuts and the general principles of assembling wood pieces together. Once you have a shape you like, holes can be drilled or cut into the wood in various sizes to hold bud vases for fresh cut flowers. Your imagination is the only limit for this simple, fun project!


2. Decorative Wall Art

Pallets are incredibly versatile and popular for crafts, often being snapped up on recycling pages in minutes. If you manage to get your hands on a safe to use pallet (see the opening safety note,) an easy first project to try is turning your pallet into wall art. The lines of the pallet are a natural fit for a favorite book, movie, or television quotes. Try stenciling at first until you get comfortable freehanding letters. Bonus points if you incorporate a beautiful spring 2019 color like pistachio or mint!

Dunn DIY

3. Outdoor Jenga Set

Nothing says summer fun like a vast outdoor Jenga set. Scrap 2×4 lumber can easily be reduced down to matching lengths to cheaply and easily create your own outdoor Jenga set. Jenga is also being used for other games now, like Dread, which combines Dungeons and Dragons with Jenga elements, which could add much versatility to your backyard gaming. Just be sure to carefully sand all of your 2x4s, so none of your guests end up with splinters.


4. Rustic Shelves

Thanks to the very shape and nature of pallets, they make ideal rustic shelves. They can be sealed to preserve the natural, rustic wood finish of the shipping containers or you can paint them. Palettes look great in pastel colors, which keeps their natural lines from looking too harsh or cage-like. Distressed and crackle paint finishes look phenomenal on pallet wood and add to the rustic element, and can make a brand new, clean pallet look like a vintage piece.


5. Planting Bench

A planting bench is the ideal spring 2×4 project. It’s cheap, simple to create and prepares you for a summer full of planting fun. It is relatively easy to turn 2x4s into a sturdy, heavy outdoor bench that can be sealed to protect it from the ravages of summer storms. Additional 2x4s can be turned into adorable crate storage for under the seat, which can hold bags of potting soil, plant food, and more. You’ll be ready to transplant your petunias and tomatoes in no time.

Ideas With Pallets

6. Kitchen Shelving

Much like smaller rustic shelving projects, pallets can be combined into large shelving units or even extremely useful shelving backsplashes. Combine pallets of different sizes to give a unique, architectural look that prevents the space from looking too repetitive. Turn some pallets 90 degrees to introduce a varying geometric visual element with both parallel and perpendicular lines running throughout the area. The resulting backsplash or accent wall will give you a beautiful look and tons of useful storage and display space.

Popular Mechanics

7. Coffee Table

Every house needs at least a few solid coffee tables. Two by fours can be combined in numerous ways, to give a variety of looks to your home. A table of raw 2x4s stacked with staggered edges, and finished with industrial hairpin legs, makes for a surface that’s modern and industrial while managing to retain an elemental, natural edge. Gluing timbers together is a straightforward project for a beginner, but it manages to yield an incredible result.

1001 Pallets

8. Desk

It’s so hard to find the perfect desk, with the right mix of surface space, storage, height, and more. If you’ve been struggling to find the right desk for your home office, maybe it’s time to consider making one with pallet wood! Stacks of pallet crates can create large storage areas and, when topped by 2x4s cut to fit the space, can create a customized amount of flat work surface. When stacked two deep, crates can be stacked below and above the workspace, allowing for vast amounts of storage.


9. Bar Stools

No breakfast nook is complete without lovely bar stools to set off the space and allow for casual, relaxed meals. Two by fours can be assembled to make attractive modern, geometric stools that are easy to create, sturdy, and can be finished in a variety of way for diverse looks. If painted, especially in a pastel, white, or crackled shade, they can give a rustic farmhouse finish to a kitchen. Alternatively, you could stain it with a dark matte to create a modern, industrial air. You might also want to finish it with a gloss, which can fit a wide variety of styles.

Home Tree Atlas

10. Functional Accent Wall

Much like a kitchen backsplash, an accent wall made of pallets can create a striking visual feature that sets off a media console, fish tank, or another statement piece in your home. With the planks of the pallet facing out, the wall can be used for mounting stereo equipment and another decor. If the pallets are attached to the wall with the long planks against the wall, they will serve as shelving, much like in the kitchen backsplash, allowing small houseplants and other items to be displayed in the accent wall.


11. Flag Blocks

A fun, simple outdoor craft with 2x4s is creating customized flags out of blocks. Cutting various 2x4s and gluing them together in a puzzle-piece like fashion to create a flag shape allows for fun and learning, so this is a great project in which to include children. State flags, country flags, and more are all an excellent fit for this project, which will only require one or two boards and some outdoor grade acrylic paint.

101 Pallet Ideas

12. Bed Frame

Pallets are a fantastic cheap and easy way to make a Japanese style low-to-the-ground bed platform. Please note, it is especially important to make sure you use safe pallets that have not been chemically treated for bedroom furniture since you will spend many hours each day in close contact with the wood. Pallet bed frames are an easy way to incorporate lights and hidden storage into a bed frame setup.

Ana White

13. Outdoor Sofa

Outdoor sofas are a must for any patio, but they can often be costly at the start of the season. Outdoor sofas can easily be constructed out of nothing but 2x4s (and hardware, of course) and can be treated to be weather resistant through paints or stains. A 2×4 sofa will be quite heavy, so make sure you construct it close to where you want to place it or have a lift team to help you move it!


14. Wall Clock

While many crafts use pallets as they’re built, the rustic-looking boards can also be stripped and repurposed for other uses. One rustic, charming use is to create a large, round wall clock out of pallet boards with an open clock-face attached. The boards can be treated with countless paints or stains to create a variety of looks from industrial to farmhouse. Making the rounded cuts may take a bit of practice, so make sure you grab some extra wood to work with before starting on the masterpiece.

More Like Home

15. Kitchen or Bar Cart

A kitchen or bar cart is always useful whether to add storage in a kitchen or add functionality to an outdoor dining area. At its most simple, a basic 2×4 kitchen or bar cart will feature two open cube-like areas for storage, while more advanced builders can add sliding drawers. A dark wood stain on the top, flat surface of the cart paired with a white or pastel painted storage area gives a modern, clean look with just a hint of rustic flair that is perfect for spring and outdoor spaces.

16. Vertical Garden

Thanks to their natural, built-in storage shape, pallets make ideal easy to assemble vertical garden bases. Pallets can be mounted to a wall as-is as a base for shelves or brackets to support plants, or they can be fashioned into storage themselves, as in the kitchen backsplash project. Their rustic appearance is a natural fit for plants, and the cheapness of the material makes them fit to replace if a portion rots due to contact with water. Vertical gardens are all the rage this year, so give a vertical pallet garden a try for a cheap introduction to the practice!

17. Test Tube Bud Vase Centerpiece

If modern, industrial design is your thing, or you enjoy scientific imagery, this is the niche decor project for you. Following the simple yet flexible design advice from the first project on this list, which was making a more traditional floral centerpiece out of 2x4s, this project features the unique modern element of test tubes to each hold a single flower. After you’ve constructed whatever shape of 2×4 frame you want, drill holes just big enough to hold a test tube throughout the piece. When filled with flowers, the result is absolutely stunning.


18. Coffee Cart

For a rustic coffee corner, a little coffee cart made from pallet wood could be the perfect finishing touch. As with all pallet projects, it is easy to customize the size, amount of storage, whether or not you want any doors, and so on. With relative ease, you can combine pallets to create a cart with visible or hidden storage for all of your coffee gadgets, mugs, and more. A rustic finish or dark wood stain set this piece off, especially if the finish echoes the vibrant color of a fresh cup of Joe.


19. Candle Holders

One of the easiest 2×4 projects to create is simple stained candle holders. A phenomenal introduction to woodworking for novices and supervised children, 2×4 candle holders must simply be cut to size, sanded, stained, and have a hole drilled. Make sure the hole is large enough to hold a tealight candle or some other candle size. With the vast array of stains and paints available, the sky is truly the limit for this project. Create several individual candle holders, or attach multiple to make an interesting architectural piece.


20. Sectional Sofa

Sectional sofas are the goal of most homeowners, but they can come with an incredibly steep price tag. One fantastic alternative is stacking high-quality wooden pallets and covering them with a thick, memory foam or other high density filled pads and pillows. They create a rustic, beach-home like vibe while offering a considerable amount of seating space for a drastically lower price. As with bedroom furniture, be especially careful when selecting pallets for living room furniture and avoid chemically treated wood.


21. Child’s Picnic Table

While you certainly can make an adult-sized picnic table out of 2x4s as well, a great starting point for newer woodworkers is a small child’s picnic table. With 2x4s, it’s quite easy to construct a classic, old-fashioned wooden picnic table. In a child’s size, it’s also easier to measure, cut and assemble and stays at a more manageable weight for moving. Once you’ve mastered a child’s size table, nothing is stopping you from moving on to an adult-sized table to add some seating to your next backyard barbecue!


22. Coat or Accessories Rack

There’s really no wrong way to make a coat and accessories rack with pallet wood. You can leave the pallet whole and attach fun hooks; alternatively, you can deconstruct a pallet and create your own style of rack. For a whole pallet, try mixing vintage doorknobs for a whimsical, bohemian style rack. For deconstructed pallet wood pieces, try modern, industrial fixtures to give a sleek, chic edge to your space.


23. Outdoor Sectional

Pallets are ideal for creating an indoor section, but 2x4s reign supreme for creating a large outdoor seating area. This piece will be immensely heavy once it’s complete, so be sure to build it in the area in which you want it to reside permanently. This piece will also be nigh-on indestructible, especially when finished with some high-quality stain or outdoor grade paint. Complete it with some bright, beautiful water-resistant fabric cushions, and you’ll have an outdoor sectional fit for a king.

Jokes On Me

24. Book Rack

While more and more people are turning towards e-books and digital media, it’s hard to argue with the beauty and elegance of a display of books. Whether vintage treasures or new attractions, books have a certain magic to them that add warmth and sophistication to a design. Pallets are a unique way to store books, and mounted to a wall they create a truly eye-catching statement piece. Also, consider trying a pallet book rack in a kitchen to display recipes and cookbooks.


25. Sturdy Shelving Unit

If there’s one thing most basements and garages lack, it’s enough sturdy shelving. The inherent strength of 2x4s makes them an ideal choice for building sturdy yet straightforward frame shelves. These shelves are suitable for holding large totes and are perfect for storing Christmas decor and other items that sit for most of the year. When properly cared for, this shelving will last the lifetime of your home.

1001 Pallets

26. Spice Curio

If you have a large enough kitchen or dining room, a spice curio is an enjoyable and whimsical addition. When made from pallet wood, they are lightweight and easy to customize. The rustic appearance of the wood is the perfect fit for such an antique piece of furniture, and are easy to decorate in a Bohemian or farmhouse style. The flat top surface is ideal for a kitchen garden or houseplants, while the drawers are a perfect fit for chalk-letter paint faces that label the herb and spice contents for an organized, cute kitchen.


27. Kitchen Island

Made of either 2x4s or pallet wood, a kitchen island is always nice to have for that extra little bit of storage and counter space. If using pallet wood, it’s highly advisable to get a safer, less porous lumber for the top surface if you intend to use it for food preparation. Be sure to research safe food varnishes no matter what wood you use. If you don’t plan to cut or prepare food on it, the sky is the limit, and you can create some stunning finishes.


28. Plant Shelf

With houseplants become more and more popular, homeowners are going to require more flat surfaces to hold their plants! Assembling a variety of shapes and sizes of 2×4 stands will give that much needed flat space while also allowing for a rich variety of stains, paints, shapes, and more that would enable decorators to express themselves honestly. Try playing around with various stains and paints to set off the different shades of foliage in your favorite plants.


29. Farmhouse Style Dining Table

Farmhouse style dining tables have been on trend for quite some time, and it’s not hard to see why when they’re so beautiful and functional. Few items of furniture feel more inviting than a large, bright farmhouse table surrounded by comfortable chairs. They just evoke the smell of fresh coffee and warm pie out of the oven. Pallet wood, when selected safely, can give the rustic look of a farmhouse table with a fraction of the cost and weight of a traditional hardwood table.


30. Entryway Table

A good entryway table is really worth its weight in gold. It will doubtless serve as everything from a lost and found, letter rack, hat rack, and more. A sturdy yet thin entryway table made from crossed 2x4s will give all of the function necessary from an entryway table while also adding a surprising amount of delicacy, especially given the functional construction materials. The thin profile also will help prevent entryways from feeling too cluttered or closed off.


31. Glass Top Coffee Table

Pallet wood attains a higher level appearance when combined with other mediums, especially glass. A stacked-pallet coffee table with industrial style legs, like hairpins, and a glass top elevate the traditionally rustic or farmhouse appearance of the wood to a more modern aesthetic. Even those who have typically not liked pallet furniture appearances should give this project another look.

Bob Vila

32. Crate Style Dresser

A crate style dresser made from 2x4s gives a classic, Craftsman-like bit of organization to any bedroom. The large, square storage areas are an ideal fit for Marie Kondo folding styles of clothes, and neatly hide away items while bringing a bit of architectural beauty beyond the traditional elongated, rectangular drawer. When given a dark or rustic stain, these pieces have a very high-end look.


33. Rolling Desk

If you like to have flexibility with where you work in your home, a simple rolling desk made with pallet wood may be the perfect solution. Lightweight and easy to roll, a pallet desk can have built-in cubby-like storage thanks to the natural shape of the pallet, and assembling the piece with the wood-burned stamps out give it a vintage, industrial feel. These desks are ideal for laptop users, just make sure you carefully sand all surfaces that you’ll be in contact with!


34. Kitchen Table With Storage

When covered with solid pieces of wood, stacked pallets can make the perfect dining table with storage. Just imagine your children being able to stash their phone out of sight in an indent in the stand during mealtime, or being able to store some packs of cards or other games right in your table itself. As with other pallet furniture, make sure you select safe wood that isn’t chemically treated, especially if it will be coming into direct contact with food.

Guide Patterns

35. Industrial Rolling Cart

Sometimes, you just need a rolling cart. Whether for pet supplies, laundry supplies, art supplies, or something else, having a cart you can move around with you is sometimes just what you need. With 2x4s, you can very quickly build a simple cart with two basic shelves and wheeled feet. When finished with visible metal brackets, the cart quickly takes on a very luxurious, industrial design that will make everyone think you splurged on high-end furniture.

101 Pallets

36. Rustic Media Console

Much like the pallet wood desk project, building a media console out of pallets is an ideal way to create the exact size and storage style needed for your living or entertainment room. Multiple columns of pallets can create a cube-style storage solution, while other configurations will allow for doors, drawers, and more. Just make sure you mount your television or ensure that your pallets can support your equipment’s weight!


37. Clothes Rack

When combined with a simple wooden dowel or PVC pipe, 2x4s can easily create a sturdy clothes rack in any size. Whether for storing heavy winter coats in a garage or attic, or creating a small rack for children’s play costumes, 2x4s are a cheap and effective way to develop long-lasting storage items like clothes racks. They can be left untreated if stored out of sight, or painted or stained to create a more attractive storage piece.

Balcony Garden Web

38. Yard Tool Organizer

Everyone has likely had a dreaded pile of yard equipment in their garage at some point. Rakes tangled with hoes, a missing shovel, it’s all a massive headache when you want to get some yard work done ahead of a storm or snow. Pallets, with their unique shape, provide an easy, elegant storage solution. Mount them along the bottom of a garage; the form of an unmodified pallet is perfect for holding garden and yard tools in place, almost like a giant pencil holder.


39. Indoor or Outdoor Bar

Whether in an L or C shape, a simple bar built with 2x4s will add character and useful space to any living area, indoor or outdoor. If left untreated, for indoor spaces only, a 2×4 bar will bring a log cabin aesthetic that would be at home in any man cave or sports den. When painted or stained, the vibe can range from modern and clean to whimsical and Bohemian. Two by four bars are easy to assemble, but heavy, so build them as close as possible to their final destination.


40. Swing-Down Gardening Table

Two pallets, when combined with a hinge and locking mechanism, can easily create a rustic, adorable, and most importantly, functional gardening table. Mounted to the side of a house, garage, or shed, this small table, at comfortable waist height, will allow you to re-pot houseplants, transplant seedlings, and more all without putting unnecessary strain on your back. Plus, the pallet style gives it a charming, rustic farmhouse vibe that compliments any backyard aesthetic.