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Van upgrades: can you tell these shelves were made from an old pallet?

Wood is not only a great material to make things from (easy to cut and shape, looks good, lasts a long time etc.) but you can often get it for free.

I want to show you how you can make nice things quickly, cheaply (for your van/house) from any old scrap bits of wood – or those wooden shipping pallets.

I needed to make some shelves in my van

I’ve been doing a few modifications to my van recently (coming soon in more posts) and I needed a couple of shelves. So I took a wooden pallet from round the back of some pound shop and made my own.

Pallets are all over the place

If you can’t find any pallets in the corners of carparks you will find them on your local highstreet – or behind your local highstreet – like behind the shops.


But not all pallets are the same

Most of the time they’re all pine or some soft white wood (not so interesting) but sometimes you get the odd bit of hardwood. I picked out a good bit…


I cut some bits up and screwed them together



Filled the gaps and the screw holes


And sanded everything flush

Even if you cut it very roughly you can get good results when you sand and shape it all as one piece.


Do this to make wood look shiny and smooth

  1. Sand down, finishing with a very fine sandpaper. I went up to 400 grit
  2. Apply Danish oil with clean t-shirt – just rub it on. Do this 3 times leaving 8+ hours between coats.
  3. After at least two days (when the oil has cured totally hard) buff with a bit of old denim.

Danish Oil

This is what I used on most of the wood in my van including all the cladding. It’s easy to apply and it nicely brings out the natural grain of the wood


Polish and smooth with denim


Let the imperfections show

This is the beauty of wood. No two things you make are ever the same. I just think this is so much more interesting than plastic or MDF or ply.





Attach to wall of van


It’s a natural finish that matches the rest of my van

Here’s a post from ages ago: fitting the wood cladding of my van – I used the same Danish oil to finish that.


So this is what I’m up to right now. Making modifications here and there. Nearly done. You’ll see what the shelves are for in a later post – It’s part of something I’ve wanted to have in my van for ages.


I’ve never been a woodworker or a carpenter but wood has to be my favourite material to make things from. Anyone can do this with a jigsaw, drill and screwdriver. It’s not joinery. It’s just screwing bits of wood together. But when you’re making something that is both useful and is pleasing to look at it’s a really satisfying feeling, especially when the wood is free.

Oh and does anyone know what wood this is?

Go to next post: Van tour: Phil’s DIY camper – but wait till you see the shower

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