How To Build A Pallet Wood Liquor Cabinet
Pallet wood is an excellent choice for making unique furniture and accessories for your home. In this article I’d like to share how to make a DIY pallet wood liquor cabinet. I built two of these recently for a home bar and the results were great. This is an easy project and the costs are minimal.
Pallet Wood – Inexpensive & Easy To Find
It’s hard not to see all kinds of examples of pallet wood furniture and decorations scattered all over Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. One of the reasons for the popularity is the fact that pallets are generally free and very accessible at many locations. In most cases, pallets are free for the picking at lumber yards, grocery stores, and any location that receives bulk goods.
One important consideration with using pallets for these projects is ensuring the pallets are safe for your home. Pallets generally fall into a couple categories of treatment to protect them from the elements and that includes; heat treated and chemically treated. Heat treated pallets will have a stamp on them with the letters “HT” while chemically treated will be stamped with “MB” for Methyl Bromide. You’ll want to stay clear of the chemically treated for items that you want to use inside your home. You can learn much more about this topic by reading this article: How to tell if a pallet is safe.
Step 1 – Prepare the Pallet
For this project I used a 1/2 pallet for each cabinet. In order to cut the pallet in half it’s best to remove boards from the top and bottom of the pallet in the middle section where it will be cut. The simplest way to remove the boards is to remove the nails using a hammer and “cats paw” as pictured above. Be careful not to damage the wood if possible so the boards can be reused for parts of the cabinet.
Once all the nails are removed in the area of the cut, mark each of the pallet stringers with a square and cut the pallet in half. You can use a circular saw, handsaw, or even a reciprocating saw. Remember, with pallet wood the cuts don’t need to be pretty, in fact, some “roughness” to the cuts adds to the character in my opinion.
Step 2 – Lower Shelf for Bottles
For this cabinet I decided to make the lower bottle self wider than the depth of the pallet stringers (many of the examples you’ll see online skip this step, but it limits the size of the bottles you can use to a standard 750 ml bottle (fifth). I wanted to be able to accommodate larger bottles hence this modification.
As you can see above I removed the remaining bottom board and installed 3 spacer blocks. The blocks are approximately 1″x1″x 2-1/2″ long. I glued and nailed these to the pallet stringers as shown in the picture.
For the shelf itself I opted to buy some rough sawn lumber from my local lumber yard. You could use some of the pallet boards if you have an extra pallet but I wanted a sturdy self. You’ll need to cut the board to length and most likely “rip” it to the correct width. Ripping the board is easy if you have access to a table saw. Without a table saw you can do it using a circular saw or even by hand, remember, the cuts don’t have to be perfect as nothing is perfect on a pallet! The lower shelf is then nailed through the back pallet board and again later through the front board.
The final step for the lower shelf is attaching a board to the face. For this board I re-used the wide bottom board that I previously removed from the pallet, ripped it down to 2-1/2″ wide, and nailed it to the front of the cabinet on top of each of the blocks that I installed in the beginning. I also nailed through this board into the shelf.
Step 3 – Upper Glassware Shelf
For this liquor cabinet I wanted to have a place to store glasses. There are lots of examples of wine racks that use a design to hang wine glasses so I thought it was a great idea to provide a shelf for rocks glasses. For this shelf I did not install a spacer block, but opted for a narrower shelf which is about 3-1/2″ wide (width of the stringers). I installed the shelf at the edge of the stringer cutout as shown above. You’ll need to cut these boards to length and rip them down the the correct width as mentioned above.
Finally install another of the pallet boards to the face of this shelf. Again, this board was ripped from one of the wider boards that was removed in the first steps.
Step 4 – Staining
At this point the pallet wood liquor cabinet is finished. You can use it as is, or add some color to it. I decided to stain the cabinet in order to blend the new and old wood finishes. I applied a heavy coat of dark brown stain using a brush and applying it more like paint than a wiped on stain. I was very pleased with the results and would likely use this approach on other pallet wood projects.
Pallet Wood Liquor Cabinet – Final Thoughts
This was an incredibly easy project to build and quite satisfying. Not only was it extremely cheap to build (to build two of them cost approximately $15), but it’s a great way to recycle something and add some character to a room. I’m going to dream up some other fun project to try in the future so stay tuned.