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The Pallet Furniture Frenzy (Or Not)

Most people think of pallets only for shipping, but there are a few creative souls who also consider the lowly pallet’s potential for sitting, dining, and sleeping. That’s where furniture made from scrapped pallets is born. With pallet furniture, it’s not just about repurposing the wood. It’s about creating useful, sometimes even attractive, furniture that retains the look of the pallet.

On a similar note, two students attending North Carolina State University in Raleigh, NC came up with the idea of building furniture that resembled shipping crates. Their company, This End Up Furniture, was an immediate success in North Carolina and surrounding states. Unlike pallet furniture, though, these boys didn’t start with old shipping crates.

Pallet furniture is for Do-It-Yourselfers. Pallets are generally inexpensive and often free so it’s hard to beat material costs. And even if you don’t have a designer bone in your body, many community colleges are now offering courses in how to build pallet furniture. Edgecombe Community College, in Tarboro, NC recently started its “DIY Wooden Pallet Furniture” class.

Course Description: “Students reuse wooden pallets to create unique furniture and even holiday decorations, such as large stars to hang or place on a mantel. The college provides the pallets, and you provide the imagination.” The course runs six weeks and costs $60.

If you’re not interested in classes, how about a book? Danny Darke’s, Wood Pallet Workshop – 20 DIY Projects that Turn Forgotten Wood into Stylish Home Furnishings, offers interesting designs and tips on working with pallets, and Danny even begins with a section on different styles of pallets, where to find them, and some safety considerations. The rest of the book is broken down into three sections – Furniture, Home, and Decor. His book is available at many Sam’s Clubs and on Amazon. The Kindle edition sells for $10.97.

And, if you’re looking for FREE guidance, a Google search for “Pallet Projects” will give you just a little over a million sites. Absolutely no imagination or creativity required.



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What is the “mean pallet?”

No, it’s not a pallet with a bad attitude. Mean pallet refers to the “average location” of all the pallets in the world.

It might be described as the center of gravity of all pallets, carrying goods or not, worldwide. Although it’s considered a myth by some, others believe it to be a pretty good measure of where the most shipping activity is occurring, and hence, the most manufacturing… a virtual barometer of worldwide economic activity.

Since only a small percentage of pallets are equipped with GPS tracking devices, the mean average is little more than a wild estimate. And it can often end up in some illogical places, such as its current location, somewhere in the Caspian Sea.

However, this location is not surprising when one considers the high level of manufacturing in the Far East. Interestingly, cargo ships have gotten so large, that they can sometimes distort the mean average.

When experts first began calculating the mean pallet in the early 60’s, it was estimated to be over the Eastern Mediterranean, south of Turkey.

Mark White, an emeritus professor at Virginia Tech and director of the Sardo Pallet and Container Research Laboratory once said, “Pallets move the world.” That’s a pretty impressive feat for something that’s almost invisible for most people.

And yet, there they are… stacked behind your local grocers, loaded with George’s Barbecue sauce at your local wholesale club, and of course, secured with twine in that old, rusty Ford pickup just ahead.

It’s been estimated that 80 percent of all our country’s commerce is transported on pallets. Even more amazing, one source estimates that over 46% of total U.S. hardwood lumber production goes into pallets.

Whether myth or fact, the concept of a mean pallet proves that the lowly pallet has made a tremendous contribution to global development.



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