How to Make a Pallet Bookshelf

What a week it’s been!  Is it really March already?  I’m still in February!  I really thought I would have the bathroom complete by now to reveal today, but (I know, here it comes) it’s not done – boo hoo.  It’s 95% there, but the finishing touches are still needed, and that’s always the most important part.  So sorry to say, you’ll have to wait a few more days… you don’t mind, right? Instead, I have a fun, easy, and unique DIY project to share with you.

In the midst of my son’s room makeover, the bookcase he had wasn’t fitting anymore, but he still needed something to hold his many of books.  I had wanted to make shelves from old pallets for a long time, so this was the perfect opportunity.  I’ve seen alot of pallet bookshelves around the blogosphere, but hadn’t seen a tutorial (not that I searched long and hard either), so here we go…

After finally snagging a few pallets from my local hardware store, I was ready and working.  Depending on the pallet you find / pick up, you can get two bookshelves from one pallet.  Each end of the pallet is one bookshelf.

Duration of Project: 40 minutes (staining or painting will increase duration of project and may take longer than one day to complete)
Project Difficulty: Easy to Medium
How Many People Needed: 1

1. Remove / pry off the center wood strip(s) from the pallet (as shown in the above image), using the back of a hammer or crowbar.  This wood strip(s) will be reused for the bottom of the bookshelf.  Pallets come in a few difference sizes, so yours may have 1 or multiple center wood strips.  My pallet only had one, so I had to use a wood strip from another pallet to create the bottom for my second bookshelf.

2. Reuse the center wood strip and attach it to the side of the pallet, which will soon be the bottom of your bookshelf.  I reused the nails that were already in the wood strip, but you may need / want to use new nails.

It’s time to cut the wood to create the bookshelves!

3. Measure about 1-2″ above the higher wood strip and make a mark for your cuts.

4. Using a jigsaw, make your cuts.

5. Once the cuts are done, your bookshelf is essentially complete.

6. Sand down all the sharp edges using a hand sander or power sander.

7. Stain.  I used Minwax Jacobean stain for a dark look.  The wood was quite porous, so it soaked it right up!

8. Once completely dry (it took mine a few days to completely dry and not smell anymore), they were ready to hang. To hang the pallet bookshelves, I used Self-Drilling Drywall Anchors which are great to use when you can’t find a stud (never my strong suit).

And they’re ready to fill with your child’s favorites books.

I will admit that this style bookshelf doesn’t hold as much as a typical bookshelf, but I love how the kids can see (and choose) the books straight on.  They add so much color into the space!

These pallet shelves are also great for tight spaces since they’re only about 4″ deep.  Imagine a whole wall of them?!  (Ooo, that gives me an idea…)

The room is still coming together, but like the bathroom, it’s 95% complete (story of my life, I guess, lol). I have another exciting project to show you in his room, so stay tuned.

Have a great weekend!

Have you created anything using pallets?  If you’re in need of more pallet ideas, take a look at my post on Do-It-Yourself Projects Using Pallets.

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  1. says

    Love these bookshelves. I have been looking for some creative ideas for pallets–thanks for sharing the tutorial. I truly enjoy your blog & am going to vote for you right now!!

    • Jenna says

      Thanks so much Sara for your kind words and for visiting SAS Interiors! Glad you like the pallet shelves – they were very easy to create. -Jenna

  2. says

    What a great re-use of pallets. I’ve seen wall shelves before, but none this easy peasy! Way to go. I like that the kids can see the books, the fact that they don’t hold *too* many options is a plus to me. You can switch out your selections based on season or interest. Love it, great job.

    • Jenna says

      Thanks so much Dharma for your kind words! I like your idea of swapping out books every few weeks to keep the selection new and interesting. xo Jenna

  3. says

    GREAT tutorial! Thank you for showing us how to do this. I love that the shelves have some depth and can hold a few books deep . . . I saw your link on Tip Me Tuesday

    • Jenna says

      Thanks for stopping by SAS Interiors, Chiara! These pallet bookshelves are a great addition to my sons room and like you said, they really can hold quite a lot of books! -Jenna

  4. says

    This is such a great idea. As a homeschooling family we do love our books. I love that this makes them accessible and something to be proud to have read ( a big one for my daughter who just learned how to read this year ^_^) I am so on a mission to find pallets now haha. Thanks for sharing this idea :)

    • Jenna says

      You are so kind, thank you Jami! Pallets shouldn’t be too difficult to find – check your local home improvement store first. Let me know if you make them and send me pictures!

    • Jenna says

      If you have a pinterest account, click on the Pin It button and add the “pin” to the board you’d like. So glad you love these shelves ;) xo Jenna

  5. Jen says

    These are amazing! I just searched my local craigslist and found about 10 postings for “free pallets” woohoo! Are these 4 x 4 pallets? I didn’t realize there were different sizes but some of the posts mentioned having different sizes. Was thinking yours were probably the common 4 x 4 ones. Thanks again for the great idea! :)

    • Jenna says

      Yes these are 4×4 pallets, but there are a variety of sizes that they’re available in. Have fun with creating with your new pallets! xo Jenna

  6. says

    I love learning new things to do with pallets and anything to help keep books organized is a plus for me. Repurposing and recycling are very important to me. Very cute! Thank you!

  7. Sheili says

    So LOVE the idea of the bookshelf AND regular shelf. This is exactly what I was looking to do in our bathroom (just didn’t know it). Only problem is that I can’t find any free pallets!! Argh! I’ve called around to different places and they all have a company that picks them up :( I’ll keep looking though because some place will have them!

    • Jenna says

      I’ve actually heard of people having a difficult time finding pallets. Some businesses have to return them and get charged a fee if they don’t. Thankfully my local Lowe’s gives some away if damaged. I’ll be quick sad the day they stop. Keep your eye out!

      • Sheili says

        I found some! Had to go to different places but finally found a good piece. And so far one shelf is cut, sanded and stained. Can’t wait for it to be dry and be ready to be put up in our master bathroom. I should have enough to even make some bookshelves. Do you suggest we do a coat of polyurethane since the shelf is going in the MB? I really like the way the stain has gone on the wood and don’t know if the polyurethane will change the look. ?

  8. Amanda says

    Great tutorial! I found your blog on Pinterest– I’ve been wanting to do this for a while! I’m a pallet junkie (nothing beats FREE) and excited to find one more use! Thanks so much.

  9. says

    I have some pallets lying around and want to put them to good use. I also have boxes of books that need a more permanent home. This pallet bookshelf idea is totally speaking to me. Hopefully I can actually pull of such a project.


  1. […] Out last project is a pallet bookshelf. It’s an easy project and it shouldn’t more than 40 minutes to complete. First remove the center wood strip from the pallet and attach it to the side of the pallet. This part will become the bottom of the bookshelf. Measure about 1-2’’ above the higher wood strip and mark the spot. Cut the wood, sand down the edges and stain the bookshelf. Let it dry and mount it on the wall.{found on sasinteriors}. […]

  2. […] 2. Pallet bookshelves. One pallet gives you bang for the buck, resulting in two bookshelves. Pry off the center strips of the pallet, reusing it to create the bottom of the shelf. Use a jigsaw to cut and finally stain. For more intensive directions, read more here. […]