• MarkBuildsIt

Make a Woodworker Out of A Pallet Builder


NOT an ad for Lee Valley.

Yesterday I actually groaned out loud as I clicked the title of the newsletter I received from Lee Valley... "Make a Backyard Bar Using Pallets."


Then I had to check myself.


It's easy to look down on a project made from pallets. It's not fine woodworking. Most of the experienced woodworkers I know view these pieces as a waste of a good pallet.


Until recently, this list included me. But lately I've been working pretty hard to develop a little more empathy. And I find my life is much less stressful. I only need to remember the fact that everyone has their own reasons for doing the things they do. These are reasons I can't hope to know without asking, or even simply trying to imagine them.


So I asked myself "What reason would someone have to make a piece of furniture out of pallets?" It didn't take long to come up with some pretty good reasons...


  • Budget - You could have all the skills in the world. But without the cash to buy the premium materials you and I take for granted, what's left?


  • Time - Between work, family and everything else, people have a lot of commitments. Wouldn't you rather spend less time tracking down materials?


  • Access - Not everyone lives near a decent supplier of materials. But those pallets are sitting there, waiting to be hauled off to the landfill...


Which brings me to...


  • Conservation - There's actually a bustling business around collecting pallets in this area. If they're in decent shape they don't lie around for long. There's a local pallet manufacturer who will buy them back and refurbish them. But that can't be the case everywhere. What better way is there to conserve a resource than putting it to use as furniture?


These are all solid reasons, But there's one that I care about more than the others. It's right there in the ad. Screaming at us.


"Grow Your Craft"


People have to start somewhere. A kid might pour glue all over a pile of offcuts. Adults tend to be a little more ambitious.


So, the next time you see a coffee table, bookcase, or even a backyard bar made of pallets, it's ok to ask "Why?"


But don't do it out of loathing. Do it out of genuine curiosity.


The answer may be some variation of "I'm just starting out." If that's the case, then you can be the one to help that person get to the next level.


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