Knowing you need a firewood rack and actually having one are two different things. Once I came to the realization of what was needed the search began for what I was wanting to actually have. As I am currently focusing on purchasing edging blocks for various beds in the garden I decided to take the DIY route for this particular project.
Purchasing a pre-made rack would have been quicker mainly for the reason I was stuck on perfection and took many more
weeks months than needed to get started. I am not sure why this project froze me in fear of doing it wrong, as if there was a wrong way to build a firewood rack out of pallets. It can only be wrong if it fails to stay together.
The pallets to be used had been sitting next to the house and stack of firewood on the ground so long birds were beginning to use it for a hiding place when the dog was out in the yard. As the stack of previous nice looking wood and pallets began to look more like a breading ground for chiggers and ticks I knew I needed to set aside a specific day and focus on finishing this project…or burn the pallets and wood and move on with life.
As I did not want to do the former, I told myself I needed to stop analyzing the steps and instead start with the first thing. What happened? It turned out exactly as I needed it to be in order to function in the space available without continuing to breed more annoying insects while keeping our firewood dry and off the ground.
Something I did a few months prior to make these wood working DIY projects easier on myself and keep my sanity was to purchase a circular saw. The hand saw I had been using was becoming a source of aggravation more than blessing. Having the right tool for the job means you will get a better result and are more likely to finish the job. After this project I knew purchasing the saw was money well spent.
Here is the process, along with the issues faced and solutions found. Due to the wide variation in pallets, needs, and other details I am not going to include measurements for the firewood rack I built. There are many such resources out there which can provide you with these details. As my goal was not to produce a very exact, refined product all of those details were really more of a guideline for me than a building plan by the end of this project.
Problem #1 pallets have cross slats at various distances from each other.
Solution: Use pallets with similar spacing on sides which you will see most often. I chose to use the pallet with the closest spaced slates for the bottom, while the sides were from two other pallets whose slates were close enough in spacing to not be noticed when seen from a distance.
Problem #2 broken slats.
Solution: cut the pallet such that the broken slats or supports will not be used. For this particular pallet, that meant being used as a side piece. My foot is marking the line in the top picture where I will be cutting which will result in the split being a nonissue. The bottom picture has my foot on the slate which will be cut off to use for the back piece.
Problem #3 pallets that are longer than wide.
Solution: when I cut the pallet to use for the base I had not considered that it was longer than wide, also known as a rectangle. My initial plan to cut along the support was not going to work. Instead I had to move the cut line over which seemed like a problem as I then had no way to attaching the sides to the back. The solution was to then angle the sides ever so slightly so as to have the slates go along the outside edge of the back pallet.
Here is a better visual of the steps involved in the process. I am not completely done as I would like to add a roof. However, I did not have all the materials gathered for that final step and know I can finish that step at a later time.
After deciding which pallets were to be used for the bottom, sides, and back I measured and marked where I needed to cut. To keep the circular saw off the ground, I used other pallets as lifts. The top slats were cut first, the pallet turned over, and the back slats were cut. For the bottom piece I left the back slats in place.
To remove the cut slats I used the support pieces as pry bars to add pressure while I twisted and pulled on the nails. They came out very easily. These pieces were added to the wood pile later and have made great kindling.
With all the pieces cut I began the assembly with the sides. Using wood screws I placed a few along the sides and the front to help keep them standing upright.
Next came the back pallet. Due to my nonexact cutting a shim was needed on the one side in order to make it more level. I was able to use a part which had previously split off from a slate to screw onto the base.
Due to the shape of the back pallet and and size of the base one I had to trim up some of the part which stuck out along the supports of the back pallet in order for the side pieces to meet up enough to screw together. A jig saw made quick work of this. This was a problem (from above) which I had not even noticed till I was in the process of putting this all together.
Once the back was was put on and the sides attached, I went back and added more screws to various places.
As I was putting each part together the voice of Doubt kept telling me “this is not going to work”, “it is all wonky”, “it will never hold up”. Doubt was wrong. In the end, even without perfection, this DIY pallet firewood rack came out solid and very functional. It is now full of wood and still holding up.
As a bonus, the space along the sides has turned out to be a great storage space for the current fire poking stick I use, after it cools of of course.