How to Use Recycled Building Material to Build Raised Garden Beds. Raised bed gardening eliminates many of the hassles of conventional row gardens as you can fill them with an ideal growing medium that is weed free. It's easier to plant, weed, water and harvest a raised bed garden. No wonder they are so popular! Since used hardwood pallets are...
Raised bed gardening eliminates many of the hassles of conventional row gardens as you can fill them with an ideal growing medium that is weed free. It's easier to plant, weed, water and harvest a raised bed garden. No wonder they are so popular! Since used hardwood pallets are readily available, and can often be had for free, they are a great way to scrounge wood for use in raised beds. Here's a simple way to convert shipping pallets to useful and attractive raised beds.
Things You'll Need
12 2" x 3-1/4" x 4' Pallet slats
6' of 4" x 4" Post wood
Galvanized nails or screws
Saw (skilsaw, sawzall or jigsaw)
Cats claw, pry bar, utility bar or crowbar
Protective eye wear
Compound miter saw
Nail gun or power drill
Building a Raised Bed From Pallets
Ask feed and pet supply stores, newspapers, grocers, home improvement stores, factories, builders and furniture stores for permission to take their empty pallets and any 4x4 lumber they have laying around.
Before hauling everything away, make sure the hardwood has not been pressure treated (insect and fungus treated wood will be green or yellow).
Break down pallets by separating slats from stringers while taking care not to damage the wood. You can do this by drilling out nail heads and prying or hammering the slats off the stringers or by using a sawzall, jigsaw or skilsaw to cut through the nails where they attach to the stringers.
Use a tape measure and compound miter saw to cut the 4x4 post material to the amount of 16 inch lengths needed for your raised beds.
Create a point on one end of each post by using a tape measure and combination square to draw a line around the circumference six inches up from an end and cutting at a 30 degree angle from this line to the end of the post on all four sides with your compound miter saw.
Align the long edge of two slats with the flat end of a post in a 90 degree butt joint and nail or screw them to the post.
Continue fastening the posts to the slats in the same way until you have a square frame with a post attached at each inside corner.
Lay the long edge of the next set of four slats against the first four and attach them to the posts in the same way.
Lay the long edge of the last set of four slats against the second set of four and fasten them to the posts.
You should end up with a four foot square frame with three slats on each side and a sharpened post extending below each inside corner.
Tips & Warnings
Cedar or cypress wood pallets are ideal since they are less prone to rotting.
Use nails for a quick and easy job or screws if you want stronger, longer-lasting joints.
Use a nail set instead of a nail punch to drive out embedded nails (a nail set is less likely to get stuck or bend).
A pair of vise grips can be clamped to a headless nail and pushed down to flip it out of the wood.
Tie a loose knot where the cord from your power tool is connected to your extension cord to avoid accidentally unplugging yourself.
Wear eye protection to protect yourself from flying debris.
Wear work gloves to protect your hands from splinters and sharp nails.
Wear a dust mask when you cut or sand pressure treated wood.
Never put your hand directly opposite a spot where you're nailing, screwing or cutting.
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