To start you’ll need at least 2 pallets, 3 if you’re going to need to do any repairs to your pallet — and spare parts are never a bad thing.
The ones we used were 48 x 40 inches and had the slats pretty close together, which is how we achieved the head & foot board. Also, the 40″ worked perfectly for a toddler bed, which you’ll find out why in a moment.
You will also need:
• 4 – 5 bolts, (long enough to go through 2 widths of bracing when butted up next to each other) washers & nuts
• short wood screws (long enough to go through the slats & into the next board, but not through)
• long wood screws (long enough to go through the bracing and into the next board, but not through)
• one 2x4x10 piece of lumber (longer or more pieces if you need to make any modifications due to different pallet size)
• 5 casters with locks
• palm sander with medium grit sandpaper
• circular saw
• drill w/ bits in sizes for your bolts and potentially the screws, depending on age of pallet, condition of the wood & how prone the wood is to splitting
• socket set
• tape measure
****the following could come in handy, but may not be necessary, depending on placement of slats & nails****
• hand saw
• sawsall with blade for metal
We’re ready to start!!
(please keep in mind that no two pallets are going to be exactly the same. use these instructions as guidelines, and make adjustments where needed.Also, we will be referring to the top and bottom boards as “slats” & the 3 center boards as “bracing” so we don’t have any confusion)
With your palm sander, sand down all the surfaces to keep your little one from getting splinters. We didn’t have to sand a whole lot, just got rid of the rough wood, but kept the character. (Once it was built we went back and sand portions that would be touched often and thus needed a little more caution)
Toddler mattresses are generally 28″ wide. So, to start with, using a circular saw, we cut both pallets to 29″, cutting ACROSS the bracing, not with it. That gave two pallets 29″ x 40″.
You will have to cut one side of the pallet, then turn it over and cut the other side of slats, as well as each brace from the side. The middle one can be tricky which is where a hand saw can be useful. Also, if you find some nails in your way, a sawsall with a blade for metal, may just be your best friend.
On a flat surface, lay both 20″ x 40″ small pallets up-side-down, butting up the edge bracings, matching edges as best you can.
With the drill, drill pilot holes for your bolts through the entire depth of both bracings (clamp together, if needed, to ensure alignment). Put in the bolts and tighten the washers & nuts with a socket set.
A typical toddler mattress is 52″ long. Our pallets were 4.5″ tall. So, we then drew a line on the connected pallets at 61″ (52 + 4.5 +4.5).
Cut with a circular saw. We found it worked a lot better to place a board under the slats we were cutting to help stabilize them and keep them from drooping after being cut and putting tension on the saw blade.
Flip the pallet over and attach your casters at each corner and one in the middle where the 2 pallets come together. If your screws will be close to the edge of a board, or the boards are prone to splitting, drilling pilots will help alleviate splitting. Of course, good help is always welcome.
Next step, head & foot boards.
For the foot board, cut two sections from the 2×4, 29″ long. From the remaining parts of the pallet, cut the slats into 12″ sections and then screw/nail them to the 2x4s on ONE side, aligning with the bottom. Then flip this up on end and place on the end of the bed, leaving space for the final row of slats from the very edge of the bed. Drill pilot holes, then screw in place. Screw/nail the other 2×4 to the slats a couple of inches from the top. (If you do this step sooner, you will need a 90 degree drill in order to be able to screw it in place)
Attach the slats to the other side of the 2x4s.
If adding side rails, repeat the steps for the foot board, cutting your 2×4 to the desired length & only attaching slats to one side. Run a 1×4 across the top to stabilize. Then screw into the pallet. You may need an extra pallet for this step, depending on the type/size of pallet you use.