How to build a trunk with pallet wood

It doesn’t matter if you live in a big house or a small apartment, there never seems to be enough space to store everything. This trunk is an excellent solution to this problem. In addition, it can be used as a table or as a seat, just by placing some cushions on it!

Before starting

Many projects circulate on the web to reuse pallets, which is logical if the advantages offered by the material are taken into account. These are woods that can be obtained for free or at a very low cost. In addition, once disassembled, the slats can be used to create almost anything. However, it is important to know how to choose and treat them.

Most of the pallets are used at an industrial level. An important thing to keep in mind is the industry in which they were previously employed. If it is a company that works with chemicals, for example, it is very likely that toxic and harmful substances are also found in the wood: you do not want to take them into your home.

Those that come from supermarkets should also be carefully examined. They may look good, but if you spill any liquid on them, they will most likely end up moldy. That is why you should take a good look at them and smell them. If they look strange or smell strong, don’t take them. Another aspect to consider is that many pallets have termites. Take a good look at the wood to rule out that it is infested.

When working it is very important to wear gloves. Pallets often have protruding nails and splinters that can hurt your hands. Before starting to assemble your project, you must treat the wood:

– Apply a fungicide to eliminate mold or bacteria that the pallets may have. This is particularly important if you don’t know where the material came from.
– Sand well to remove splinters. To give it a more professional finish, do a brushing, which consists of removing a very thin layer of the surface.
– Check if any nail protrudes. If this is the case, hammer it hard so that it is well nailed.
– With a brush, remove any dust on the surface. Thus, the pallet will be ready to be varnished or painted.
– If you are going to varnish the wood, first use a primer.
– If you are going to paint it, apply a layer of white primer first.

How to build your trunk

Materials and tools

– Pallets: the amount will depend on the size you want the finished project to have.
– A saw
– 6cm screws
– Wood glue
– A triangle square
– A tape measure
– Clamps for right angles
– Nails
– 4 clamps: they are tools made up of two adjustable jaws and a pressure screw
– A 2 cm thick plywood board
– 40 grit sandpaper
– 80 grit sandpaper
– 120 grit sandpaper
– Four wheels (optional)
– 2 cm thick string (optional)
– Wood stain (optional)
– Varnish (optional)


1. Take apart some pallets. The best technique is to cut the nails. Click here to learn how to do it. If you use a prying tool, you will most likely snap multiple boards.

The most resistant strips, 2.5 cm x 10 cm, will be used to assemble the structure. The thinner ones, 1.2 cm x 10 cm, will work for the sides and lid.

2. Decide how wide and long you want your trunk to be. Based on this, measure and cut the boards to assemble the structure, that is, two rectangles: one will go at the base and the other at the top, below the lid.

3. Once you have your wood cut, you can start assembling the two rectangles. To do this, you will need the square, the clamps, the wood glue and the 6 cm screws. When finished, place one rectangle on top of the other to make sure they are the same size.

4. Decide how tall you want the sides of the trunk to be. Based on that measurement, cut the 1.2 cm x 10 cm pieces of wood. The number of boards will depend on the width and length you have chosen.

5. With glue, paste the wood that you cut in the previous step on the rectangle that will serve as the base. Secure them in place with nails.

6. To fix the wood to the upper rectangle of the structure, put a little glue on the top of the boards that form the sides. Then nail each board to the rectangle. To make them stick well, use the clamps on all four ends. When doing this, check to see if all your woods are exactly the same size. If not, align the rectangle with the tallest boards.

7. Cut lengthwise, vertically, as many 1/2″ x 4″ boards as needed to cover the top perimeter of the chest. This will give the edge a neater finish, as seen in the image below. To fix these slats in place, glue them down and nail them down.

8. Cut some more boards of 1.2 cm x 10 cm to mount a structure like the one in the image below on the bottom of the trunk. Fix them with glue and nails. Thus, you will create a support where to mount the floor.

9. To make the floor, you will need to use plywood. Cut it according to the size of your trunk and nail it to secure it in place.

10. To assemble the lid, lay the boards side by side. Then fasten them together with two clamps or clamps. Go through three more slats, as seen in the image below. These will serve as support. When you are satisfied with their placement, glue and nail them. Let the lid dry thoroughly before assembling the trunk.

11. To sand the wood, start with the 40 grit paper, continue with the 80 grit, and finish with the 120 grit.

12. After sanding, clean the wood well to remove sawdust. You can use a vacuum cleaner and a cloth to do this.

13. If your trunk is very large, it will weigh a lot when it is full. It will be easier for you to move it if you put wheels on it. You only have to screw one of them in each corner. You can also add handles using some 2cm thick string. To attach them, drill two holes on each side. Through them, pass the rope and knot the ends on the inside.

14. To give your trunk a better finish, you can stain and varnish it.