How To: Turn an old pallet into a herb planter
Local upcycling legends Nikkita Palmer and Billy Barker design and make furniture, homewares and props from reclaimed materials salvaged from landfill. In this extract from their book, Pallet Style, Nikkita shows us how to make a herb box planter
Using reclaimed leather offcuts from our local leather supplier - you can also use old leather belts - this is a simple and quick project to use up parts of a pallet you would usually discard. Made with basic tools and materials, this finished piece looks effective and is really versatile around the house. It’s great for herbs, storage, or toiletries in the bathroom – you can adapt the design to suit your needs. Try replacing the colour wash with elements of chalkboard paint so you can personalise with labels, comments or quotes, or try using upcycled cupboard handles treated for outdoor use. This project is perfect for small window or balcony gardens, or, if you have a larger space, attached under shed windows to add quaint decoration to otherwise unused space. Experiment with your plants, growing herbs for cooking or botanicals for adding to homemade gin and cocktails in the summer – a personal touch that's sure to impress your guests on those long, warm evenings.
You will need:
Table saw (optional)
Electric sander and sandpaper
Staple gun and staples
Stanley (utility) knife/fabric scissors
Pallet blocked end from a euro pallet
2–3 pallet boards
Round wire nails approx. 40–50mm (1½–2in)
Colourwash paint or coloured wax
Clear varnish (for outdoor planter)
Plant liner or rubble sacks
Leather offcuts/metal handles (for outdoor planter)
4 galvanised clout nails approx. 40mm (1½in)
How you do it:
Decide on the size you’d like your planter. For this project, this is determined by the size of your pallet end and where your blocks are. If you would like to use the whole end, steps 1 and 2 aren’t necessary. Ours is two blocks wide. .
01 Mark to the end of the second block from the end of the pallet with a pencil and combination square.
02 Use a hand saw to cut and remove the unwanted material.
03 You should now have two sides and two ends. Measure the bottom of the planter to create the base using a tape measure.
04 Mark and cut the pallet wood to fit using a hand saw. Depending on the planter's width, you may have to use two pieces of pallet wood and you may have to cut one of these down the length of the board – we use a table saw. If you don’t have the tools to do this, leave the pallet piece whole to act as a lip on the front of the planter, ensuring the back board is flush to the side. Sand the bottom pallet boards and attach to the planter using wood glue, round wire nails and a hammer. Knock into the blocks at the ends of the planter.
05 Sand the entire planter, rounding off the corners where needed.
06 Using a coloured wax and a cloth, apply wax to the planter and wait for it to dry. You can wax on the inside if you wish, but this isn’t necessary as it will be lined. However, if you plan to use the planter outside, it is always best to varnish the inside before lining.
07 Lay the liner inside the planter leaving excess at the top. Cut the liner slightly bigger than needed using scissors.
08 Fold down the edges of the liner flush with the top of the planter and staple into place with a staple gun.
09 Measure the ends of the planter (at the blocks) add 6cm (2½in) onto this measurement to establish the length of
the leather handle needed.
10 Cut the leather using a Stanley knife (on a cutting board) or fabric scissors (depending on thickness) and a metal ruler, rounding the two ends. Cut approximately 3.5cm (1¼in) wide. Attach the leather handles using the galvanised clout nails (one in each end), dipping them into wood glue before hammering into place. Be sure to allow excess leather in the centre of your handle in order to enable carrying. If your planter is for outside use, metal handles will be more appropriate and a few coats of clear varnish over the wood are always recommended.
If you’re using the planter outside for bedded plants, use an electric drill with a 10mm drill bit to drill several holes through the liner and the bottom of the planter for drainage.
Offering furniture and accessories both to buy and hire, the Nikkita Palmer Designs: Reclaimed Interiors & Events studio is based just across the Northamptonshire border. See nikkitapalmer.com and follow @nikkitapdesigns on Instagram for more.
Pallet Style: 20 creative home projects using recycled wooden pallets by Nikkita Palmer & Billy Barker is out now in hardback, published by Kyle Books and priced £20.
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