Canadian Woodworking

Skid and pallet projects

Author: Barb and Russ Miller
Published: February March 2002

Woodworking from reclaimed skids and pallets.

Barb and I do our woodworking from reclaimed skids and pallets. We have been collecting the skids and pallets for about three years. Such collection takes a bit of time and patience, but as you can see from the projects we have made from recycled wood, it is well worth the effort. Here are some tips for gathering a supply of recycled wood and working with it to make your own projects.

Oak Roll Top Desk
Ever since I saw them in the old movies and antique stores, I have always wanted an oak roll-top desk. Just sitting at such a big, heavy desk gives me a feeling of comfort and peace. The desk is 66” long by 31” wide and 55” high. It is made of solid oak, all reclaimed wood.

Spinning Wheels
Here are two spinning wheels made from oak skids. One is a Norwegian and the other is an Upright spinning wheel. Both are full-working models.

Collecting the Wood

Find a company that uses hard wood skids, and ask permission to use the unwanted skids. Most companies are more then happy to get rid of the wood, as it is an expense for them to dispose of it.

The runners on a skid are usually about 1 ½ to 2” x 3” and about 4 to 10’ long. The top boards can be anywhere from ½” to 1”. The skids can be made of oak, maple or other hardwood.

Tips for Working with Skid Wood

After you get the wood home, pull the nails and sort the good from the bad. Purchase a metal detector to find broken nails or any metal fragments embedded in the wood.

Check the moisture content. Most skids run 25-35% moisture (skid makers don’t go to the expense of using dried wood). If the wood is too high in moisture, store the wood to dry it out. We use a room with a dehumidifier. Dry to 8-l0% moisture.

With reclaimed skids or pallets, there are usually nail holes or some other defect to repair. Skid wood may be made from the core of the tree. This has to be worked around or cut out and then glued back together. Nail holes can be filled, or a section can be inlayed to fix knots or bad spots. For this, use a tool for your router called an Inlay Set. With this tool you can remove the bad spot and install a matching piece of wood to hide the imperfection (sometimes called a Dutchman patch). You can make the template for the patch in the form of a heart or an animal. You can also use a different wood to add contrast and character. The wood is not always long enough but can be made longer with a finger jointer.

When working with skids or pallets, you must have (or have access to) a jointer, band saw and a planer. After the wood has dried, put it through the jointer to true up one side. Then use the bandsaw to cut into 1” boards. Glue the boards together to make the correct width and then plane to size.

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