Pallet Bookshelf Makeover


New Tools = New Rules

I love tools.  I love tools more than my husband does.  I use tools more than my husband does.  However, I am also one of those people who loathes reading instructions and thinks that every product every made should be intuitive and self-explanatory.  I admit… it is not the best attitude to have when dealing with new tools.

Luckily, my husband knows me well enough to know that I am not going to read the instructions unless I cannot figure out how to use something on my own first.  So he takes the liberty of doing so for me.  Also, he is a marketing and public relations specialist for the home and building industry, so most of our tools were given to him by people who taught him how to use them first.  So he can turn around and teach me.  We were meant for each other.

So that brings me to my new tool… the miter saw.

One day, several months ago, I was working on my kitchen island.  I was using my handy dandy hand saw to cut pieces of wood to make shelves.  At the time, our next door neighbors were having all of their windows replaced and their house painted.  It was a long process and they constantly had workers coming and going from their house.  One of the guys in their front yard noticed me laboring over these shelves with my hand saw (Kyle wouldn’t let me use the circular saw when he wasn’t home) and asked if I wanted him to cut the pieces for me.  Normally, I am not one to accept random favors from strangers, but it was the middle of the day, he had a giant saw in the front yard, and I was honestly a little tired of the physical labor.  So I accepted his offer and watched as he used the giant saw to finish the work, in two minutes, that would have taken me another hour.  I thanked him profusely for making my life a little easier and went back to my project.

That must have been the only day he was needed on the property, because for the next few weeks, I looked for him every day that I was in my garage, and I never saw him.  I had taken the liberty of stashing a few things in the corner that I had drawn cutting lines on in the hopes that he would return.  I finally gave up my search and forgot all about his generosity until a few months later when I was in the hardware store with my husband, and I saw the saw (I know, weird wording, but there was no way around it).  Granted, it was a much smaller version.  What he’d been using was a commercial saw, and what I was looking at was a miniature version.  I stopped to study it.

I hadn’t even known that it was called a miter saw at the time.  It was displayed on the end of an aisle, and it was on sale.  I turned to my husband and told him that I wanted it.  I could tell he was trying not to laugh at me.  All he said was “What would you need a miter saw for?”  He humored me for a few minutes, then gently explained that we had no space for a miter saw in our garage at this time.  I sulked for a few minutes, then accepted his statement and walked away.

It wasn’t until Christmas that I realized my husband really had taken my request to heart.  He bought me the saw!!!  Now, some of you might be thinking that a miter saw is really not an appropriate gift for a husband to give his wife for Christmas, but you are WRONG!  It was the best gift EVER!

So recently, I decided to test out my Christmas gift.  And here is where we circle back to the beginning of this (very long) post and revisit the statement where I wrote “I am also one of those people who loathes reading instructions and thinks that every product ever made should be intuitive and self-explanatory.”  Yup, you guessed it, I did not want to read the instructions for setting up this miter saw.  However, I am not a complete idiot, and I realized how important it would be to set up something so potentially dangerous the correct way.

So I sought out my wonderful husband and enlisted him for the job of miter saw assembler.  He accepted, though he regretted it shortly after.  Unlike me, he reads directions word for word and is very thorough in his quest for assembly perfection.


My miter saw assembler

It took forever!  However, he was able to finish, and then he graciously cut my pallet planks into the sizes I needed for my new bookshelf.  Which finally brings us to the reason for this whole post… a Weekend Project Challenge!

I challenged myself to complete a project in just two days.  That is NOT something I generally do.  I have ideas and plans out the wazoo, but when it comes to action, I lack motivation.  BUT… this one was different.  I gave myself a timeline, and I worked hard!

I had a bookcase that had been gathering dust in the corner of our garage for months.  I bought it at a thrift store thinking I would paint it one color with an accent color on the back panel.  As I pulled it out and started to sand it down, I had a different idea.


I decided to pull off the back panel, which was just a thin piece of plywood.  I removed all the staples that held it on.  I sanded the entire piece, including the removable shelves.  Then I painted two layers of white primer on everything.  I sanded between each layer of primer and let everything dry.



I decided to replace the back panel with some pallet wood.  I had some pallets chilling in another corner of my garage.  I stalked the “free” section of Craigslist and drove out to some locations to pick up some unwanted pallets.  Hubby helped me pull them apart and I have been using the salvaged wood planks for all sorts of projects ever since.


For this one in particular, I measured out the height of the bookcase and had Kyle use the new miter saw to cut my planks to the same lengths.  I filled in all the nail holes with wood filler and let them dry for a few hours.  Then I sanded them all down and stained them on one side with a gray wood stain I bought from Lowes.  I only stained the one side, because, let’s face it (again), I was being lazy.  With my weekend deadline looming over me, I didn’t feel the need to spend time on parts no one would ever see.


Once I finished staining the pallet wood, I applied a layer of white paint to the bookcase and let that dry.  Once everything was dry, I lined up the wood the way I wanted it, and started nailing it to the back of the shelf.  I used one nail on each side of the plank.  No glue, no screws, just nails.  There was one plank that must have been REALLY old.  Nothing would go through it.  I couldn’t even use the power drill to put a screw through it.  I ended up just using some wood glue to get that one on.  It happened to be right in the middle, and I didn’t have the time to find, cut, stain, and nail in another plank.  It was a Weekend Project Challenge after all, and it was already Sunday afternoon.



Once all the planks had been nailed/glued on, I put the shelves back in.  I immediately fell in love with it.  It was perfect!!!  It looked very elegant, yet a little rustic.  I used a very bright, white, glossy paint that I thought contrasted really well with the gray wood.  I had the hubby help me put it in the dining room where I promptly took tons of pictures and posted them straight to Instagram.  Sometimes a girl just needs instant praise on a job well done.

I eventually used it to hold all of our beer and wine glasses (since we have so many).  I even added my own little décor to it.  Just another piece in our work-in-progress dream dining room.



Materials List:





Paint Brushes


Wood Filler

Hammer and Nails

Gray Stain

Step Recap: 

Remove shelves (if applicable) and back of bookcase

Sand all parts to be painted

Apply two coats of primer, sanding in between coats

Dismantle pallet and chose planks to use

Cut pallets to the correct size according to how they will be arranged

Fill pallet wood nail holes with wood filler and wait until dry

Sand down the sides of the planks that will be visible

Stain the sides of the planks that will be visible and let dry

Paint bookcase with desired color and allow to dry

Nail pallet wood onto the back of the bookcase and put shelves back in

Decorate and take lots of pictures!!!