Is pallet wood any good? Of course it is. Or at least it can be. Equally it can be bad too, of course it can, but for anyone who just needs to practice, or needs a low cost alternative to gain experience, pallets can be a good resource. Typically pallets are always softwoods. I have had some premium European redwood pine (nothing to do with American redwood) and soft and knotty spruce that seems always to have the hardest knots in the world every two inches apart. Here is the wood from two small pallets. Surprisingly it is very dry wood. How do I know? I check it by weight.
I do have a moisture meter which I generally use as a matter of course. Weighing does guarantee results but requires a little time. By gathering together the pieces and weighing them on some postal scales you can check each day to see that the wood is decreasing in weight.
I say decreasing because most pallets will come from outdoors somewhere so taking them into a drier environment, perhaps with controlled climate, the weight will diminish as the wood releases its moisture naturally. Weighing several pieces, stickering or cross aligning as shown, allows the air to circulate across the faces of the wood too. This speeds up the drying or acclimating process on small sections like this and usually, inside a week or so, the weight loss gets less until it constancy is achieved. The wood from these two small pallets will make several small boxes like my candle box.
Firstly I simply cut out the mid, nail-free sections from the height spacers. It’s quicker and much less troublesome and I don’t want any part with nail holes clenched over anyway. I used the bandsaw but watch out for staples in the edges as these can ruin your bandsaw blade in a heart beat because staples are hardened metal: as hard as a bandsaw blade at least. It’s also good to examine for this before planing too as the staples will play havoc with your plane iron just as well.
Laying out the 30 or so pieces, grouping them according to various considerations, helps me to identify groups according to knottiness, colour, grain configuration and so on. I choose according to how I feel I want the piece to look. Could be complimentary colour to parts, grain effect and so I must have an idea of the look I want otherwise I can end up with nothing looking right at all.
More to come…