Backyard Patio One Room Challenge Week 4: DIY Outdoor Pallet Wood Projects

1 room. 8 weeks. Countless DIYers coming together to encourage and inspire. Sounds great, right?! Welcome to the One Room Challenge! Keep reading to discover my plans for my backyard patio One Room Challenge and how to create DIY outdoor pallet wood projects this week.

I’m so excited to be participating for the first time as a guest in the 2021 Spring season of the One Room Challenge (ORC)!

In case you are new, here is my “best case scenario/possibly over optimistic/very ambitious” project plan: 

  1. Custom Cornhole Boards
  2. DIY Potted String Light Stand 
  3. DIY Wooden Pallet AC unit Screen
  4. DIY Outdoor Shoe and Tool Storage 
  5. Paint Concrete Patio Floor 
  6. Re-paint Exterior Siding
  7. DIY Vertical Living Wall Planter 
  8. DIY checkerboard tabletop 

With the price of lumber as high as it’s been, I have been collecting pallets for about 6 months. I had no real plans for them, but I just couldn’t pass up free wood. They were beginning to pile up and take up significant space in the garage. I figured building some things for the backyard patio would be a good use. Although I built the bar cabinet, this is my first woodworking project completely from scratch. I wanted to start with something simple, so I decided to build wooden crates for the patio to serve as shoe storage and garden supply organization.  

I got the idea from one of the big box stores when I was buying the whiskey barrel planter for my Week 3 string light project. I found a couple of wooden crates I thought would be the perfect size for a decorative outdoor storage solution. When I took them to the checkout counter for a price check, they were $17 a piece. No thank you!  

outdoor wooden pallet crate
Image: Lowe’s

Of course, my DIY wheels started turning and I decided to use the pallet wood I already had to build my own… for free! I think mine turned out even better than the big box store option. I love the mismatched, reclaimed weathered wood look compared to the clean, light and symmetrical wood used for the crates available for purchase. Mine have more character. From beginning to end, this project can be completed in as little as a day, or definitely a weekend! 

This post contains affiliate links for your convenience which may reward me in the event of a sale. Note that I only recommend tools and products I have personally used and loved.


-Pallet wood- you could also buy lumber if necessary but this will greatly run up the cost of the project 


Pry Bar 

Miter Saw 

Mouse sander

80 grit Mouse Sander Pads 

Safety Glasses 


Brad nailer 

Wood Glue 

Wooden Shims 

Measuring Tape 

STEP 1: Tear Down Pallets 

This is a chore. It really depends how your pallets were put together and how old they are. On average, it took me 8-10 mins to pry off one board from the pallet. I will add that my husband is able to complete it much faster, which is frustrating. But know it is doable without a lot of upper body strength with the right technique.  

I started by standing the pallet up on one end. I used the pry bar to get underneath the board, then hammered it in deeper. I moved the pry bar at an angle to loosen the nails. Next I followed with the end of the hammer to get more leverage to loosen. Once I had that side loose, I stood up the pallet on its other end and did the same thing. 

Last, I would lay the pallet flat and work on the nails in the middle of the board using both the pry bar and hammer. It’s so important to go slow, pay attention to the location of your pry bar and nails, and try not to be too aggressive or keep prying if you hear or see the board splitting. I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t get all of the boards off in one piece. In fact, I would say I split 25% of the boards trying to get them off. It’s not easy, and is physically exhausting! The fact that we had the hottest week to date in Memphis while I was working didn’t help either. But I’d still say the DIY is worth it to build your own outdoor pallet wood projects.

STEP 2: Cut 

After you have enough boards pried off, it’s time to measure and cut. To make 2 crates, I needed 16 pallet boards. All the boards I had were 40” long. Here is the cut list I created: 

Long sides and bottom 20” long: 20 pieces (10 pallet boards). My pallet boards were 40” long, so I cut 10 boards straight in half.  

Short sides 15” long: 12 pieces (6 boards)- the wood pallet boards I used were all 40” long, so I was able to use the leftover 16” to cut off at 10” for the corner beams. 

Corner beams 10” long: 4 pieces (use the leftover from the 15” boards) 

outdoor wooden pallet crate

Remember measure twice, cut once so you don’t measure once and cuss twice! I think I heard that on Fixer Upper one time and it’s stuck with me. For this project, all cuts are straight which makes it go by pretty fast.  I used my miter saw to make all the cuts.

outdoor wooden pallet crate

STEP 3: Sand 

About halfway through this DIY outdoor pallet wood project, I haven’t lost you yet, right? Once all my boards were cut, I used a mouse sander to go over the sides and edges of my boards. My goal was not silky smooth, just enough to take away the risk of splinters. However, if you plan to stain or paint I may pay more attention to achieving a smoother finish. I knew I wanted to leave them raw, so I did not spend as much time and attention on this step. I ran 80 grit sand paper across all surfaces of each board using my mouse sander. I wore safety glasses and a face mask for protection. I’ve heard that some pallet wood is treated with chemicals and potentially hazardous materials, so I didn’t want to risk breathing in harmful chemicals while sanding. 

STEP 4: Assemble 

After your wood is sanded, it’s time for assembly. I organized my wood not only by size, but by color and depth. You need 3 boards per side, and 4 boards for across the bottom. I tried to keep the sets of 3 boards uniform in depth, width and color to make assembly easier. You won’t have this problem if all your pallets came from the same place, but mine did not.  

outdoor wooden pallet crate

First, I lined up the 3 15″ pieces for the shorter end. I used shims as a spacer to keep a uniform width between each board. Next, I attached tewo 10″ corner beams per side. To ensure the most secure assembly, I used both wood glue and brad nails. On one side, the thickness of the boards was not uniform and the corner beam did not sit flush across all three. I used shims to beef up the thinner boards, scoring them and breaking them off at the appropriate thickness to make all the boards even.  

After the two shorter 15″ sides were assembled, I attached the longer 20″ boards to create the long sides. I spaced them out at the same width as the shorter sides, again using both wood glue and brad nails to secure each board. Finally, I attached 4 boards to create the bottom. You could still do 3 like the sides, but I wanted mores substance to the bottom with less open space.  

outdoor wooden pallet crate

STEP 5: Decorate 

Congratulations! You just built your own wooden crates for the cost of tools you already owned. It’s nice to skip the cost of lumber and gain pride knowing you DIYed this pallet wood project to up your outdoor space. Now it’s time to decorate. I put them near the door on our back patio. I lined up our yard and gardening shoes inside, placed a couple of potted plants on top, and nailed finishing nails to the side of one to hang my hand rake and gardening tools.  

outdoor wooden pallet crate

You could also choose to paint or stain your wood, but I think the mismatched weathered wood adds lots of character. I chose to leave mine raw.  

Project 2: DIY Pallet Wood AC Screen

You know I couldn’t stop here though… I also built an AC screen this week! This was less of tutorial because I happened to have pallets with wood boards that were already flush, and happened to be the perfect size to make only one cut to form the two sides to the AC screen. The way our AC unit is, I decided I only needed to cover the front and left side which is visible from the door. I was fine with leaving the right side bare since we are never on that side of the yard and it’s bordered by a raised garden bed.  

I utilized my paint and gel stain technique made famous in my “wood look” front door refresh, and used on my DIY string light post as well! I love carrying a cohesive tone throughout the exterior of my home. The only other work required was spray painting two thinner 40” long pallet boards to attach to the top and bottom, and attach the two sides of the screen together. There are endless possibilities to DIY outdoor projects using pallet wood.

outdoor wooden pallet crate
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What do you think of the pallet projects this week? You can’t beat free. Always remember, time is money. So although these did not cost me monetarily, they did cost me time. For me, I enjoy creating so it’s worth it to spend my time on these hobbies. But it’s always a decision you should weigh- if it’s not something you would enjoy spending your time doing, you could always buy the wooden crates I saw at the big box store to get the same outdoor organization here.  



  1. Tara Lenney

    June 1, 2021

    What a smart idea using wood palettes with lumber being so out of control expensive right now!! Excited to see how your space turns out.

    • Emily

      June 1, 2021

      Thanks so much Tara! Love finding ways to re-use wherever I can.

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