Insomniac DIY Mishap Lessons with Pallets


Insomnia is a terrible thief that steals one’s ability to think clearly the following day. What’s worse is that the body does not physically coordinate with you the way you think you are telling it to do. Combine these things together for a wonderful crafty result coupled with physical injury for the safest of household objects. In other words, I seriously should stop trying to do DIY projects the day after no sleep!! Insomniacs beware.

During the course of the year, I continued to struggle with what seemed to be a never-ending cycle of sleep deprivation. These late nights or early mornings laying in bed awake led to browsing the internet for hours on end. After reading millions of articles, books, and shopping online at 3am, I would end on Pinterest browsing the DIY category. I would find so many things that I just knew I could do! I would make lists of supplies needed and the next day would sneak out to the store and buy them. Some of these projects turned out nicely, others were just a huge disappointment ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Lesson 1: I discovered that many of the DIY links on Pinterest were just plain junk! Most of them were just pictures that had been circulated several thousand times as many well-meaning would be crafters have pinned them in great hopes that 1 day they’d get around to trying them. Many didn’t have enough instruction to complete a task or seriously important details were missing from the processes, so I’ve had several mishaps. Here are a few things I’ve tried. Some were a giant FAILย and others turned out nicely ๐Ÿ™‚

I promise to write as many of these as I can remember, but for today, here is one of the more famous “pallet” adventures!

I decided that since I had access to more pallets than the average person, I would create something out of them. I announced to my husband that I wanted him to start bringing them home to me. He dutifully complied and after bringing 5 or 6 home asked what I was going to do with them. I answered, “I’m not sure, but it’s going to be GREAT!” He would give me a strange look and then ask me again after 5 or 6 more pallets. My answer, always the same, was no longer good enough after we had over 25 pallets stacked in our back yard. ย (Insert cheesy grin here)

My first thought was outdoor seating. I would go outside and stare at the pallet stack and try to visualize how to physically go about constructing my creation. After about an hour of gathering the tools and supplies I needed and all this thinking, I would be mentally exhausted and defeated. Everything I saw online looked so simple, but I couldn’t figure out how to get the pallets into the shapes I needed. Lesson 2: Nothing seen online is as easy as it looks! I knew I could take them completely apart, but the point of using the pallets is to lessen the workload,ย not add more to it!

I began by using a hand saw to cut the pallets down to size keeping 2 slats connected on front and 3 on the back. (Note: I used a hand saw because I am just the average housewife here, not the host of a lady’s only DIY show with a production crew and unlimited access to large power tools and emergency peopleย ….should I cut off a digit.) [It is true that my husband is a contractor and I could have access to a ton of tools, but this was my project and I didn’t want his help!.] Once the 2 pallets were in sections, I leaned them against one another trying to visualize how to make them fit into a bench. Lesson 3: Pallets are made of wood. Wood Rots. ย Nothing looked right and the wood the pallets are made of would need to be treated or they would rot quickly in the weather concerned me. I have no “patio” to sit them on. They would sit directly on the ground. Hmm… I changed my mind. No outdoor furniture. It sure looked cool on Pinterest though, even though in reality it wouldn’t work for me!

I stopped working for the day and resumed my nightly insomniac googling. Then decided to make a swing! Ah yes, I love to swing outdoors. A swing would be perfect! The next day I went outside and started placing the pieces together. Before I screwed anything together, I sat on one pallet piece while it was on the ground. It bowed beneath my tush even with the ground beneath me supporting it. I’m not a “large” lady, yet the piece that would be the seat would not really support me well. There would be no way that my rather large boys would ever be able to sit on it with me ๐Ÿ˜ฆ This is when I learned a very important lesson – Lesson 4:ย Not all pallets are created equal!ย Pallets that hold large amounts of ceramic tile are great. Pallets that hold shingles are not as strong – believe it or not.

Back to square one again, the day passed and I waited for sleep once more. Sleep did not come, so I had plenty of time to do more nightly research. I found several project idea types to use the pallets to make a raised garden bed. BINGO! The soil in our yard is mostly clay and growing a garden has always been a challenge. So, this was perfect. My husband had mentioned how he longed to have a garden and I thought it would make us both happy.

The next day was much better. After finishing my work for the office, I began gathering my hand tools again and started off by cutting the pallets as described above. I left 2 slats connected on front and 3 slats connected on the back of most sections. Other sections had 1 slat on front and 2 on back. Our yard is not exactly level, so I had to compensate a little. Once I had 4 sections, I leaned them against one another to make a rectangle. It looked fine, so I grabbed my hammer & nails. After trying several ways to nail them together, I realized this wouldn’t work. I couldn’t hammer the nails into the sections because the overlapping slats prevented me from doing so. In short, my hand, nail, & hammer wouldn’t fit into one spot to do the job. I thought about it for a while and then decided to tie them together with the left over jute twine I had from earlier projects. It was strong, natural, biodegradable and well – it was the only thing I could think of! ๐Ÿ™‚

After all 4 sections were connected, my day was done. My husband saw my little creation, but didn’t say much about it. I guess he was letting me do my thing happily ๐Ÿ™‚ He was probably glad that I was finally using the pallets for something. He agreed to bring me more.

Lining inside pallet raised garden box
Lining inside pallet raised garden box

The next day, I decided I needed to line the inside of the garden box so my dirt wouldn’t fall out of the slats. I used a tarp cut to size. After placing the tarp inside, I ran to the local hardware store. I bought some garden soil with several coupons and gift cards I had collected from rebates. With some muscle help from the boys, we gotย all four of the 25 lb bags of dirt from the car to the new garden box. Excited, I cut a hole in the top of the bag and declared, “Pour!”. My son lifted the bag high and dumped the soil on the tarp inside the box. Guess what happened… ย the tarp sunk in on all 4 sides and the dirt went everywhere! It went inside the box, outside the box, on the tarp, over the tarp, and all over the ground too! Lesson 5: Think things through all the way before beginning. For some reason, I never learn this lesson. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ

Lining inside pallet raised garden box
Lining inside pallet raised garden box

I couldn’t think of any way to keep the tarp edges up, so I used binder clips from the office supply store to clip the tarp up on all 4 sides. Then I scooped massive amounts of dirt off the ground and put it in the box ๐Ÿ˜ฆ I decided that I had learned so many lessons from this little project, I should build more boxes! ๐Ÿ™‚ Cutting commenced with the hand saw and my children thought I had lost my mind. (This is normal around here.) My youngest son said, “uh, Mom? You need help?” ย I declined and then went on my business …sawing away. I took my weak little arms a whole day to saw 2 pallets for the next box. Each box I made went faster in the creation process. I was doing better (avoiding all my earlier mistakes) and I was working faster.

Completed pallet raised garden bed
Completed pallet raised garden bed

By the time the second box was completed and I was working on the third box, my husband noticed. He was amazed. He kept saying, “Wow! You built these? …by yourself?” ย ๐Ÿ™‚ I smiled and kept on building. When I was ready to start the 3rd & 4th box, it was a weekend and my husband offered to help. This 4th (and last) box would be the largest one. He whipped out his drill, power saw and some other tools and took to building. Needless to say, he created that box in a smidgen of the time it took me (which was all day long). Actually, he was completely finished in under an hour! After he was finished, he sured up my other boxes with screws so the jute twine became decoration instead of structural.

Hubby came to help :)
Hubby came to help ๐Ÿ™‚

After all boxes were completed, I started planting. After planting was completed, my husband was staining our deck and stoop. He moved over towards the raised garden beds and started the process of staining them. In the picture below, the staining wasn’t completed yet. But, you get the idea ๐Ÿ™‚ We also added a few stakes around the tomato area in preparationย for their growth.

Staining the pallets was a great idea!
Staining the pallets was a great idea!