Thursday, June 30, 2016

PalletPalooza Entry Period Ends Tonight!

This is it! It's time to put the finishing touches on your pallet creation and enter it into PalletPalooza! The deadline to enter is today - June 30th - at Midnight.
It is our hope that this new fundraiser for Goodwill inspires people to think about the humble pallet and make it something new. And also inspire people to continue to think about recycling and repurposing more things. Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan recycles over 10 million pounds of material per year from community donations. The opportunities to reuse and repurpose donations is endless! We want to say THANK YOU for taking the time to drop of donations to Goodwill, participating in PalletPalooza and supporting our mission - we help people find jobs.
Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan provides employment, education, training, and support services to individuals and families so  they can achieve self-sufficiency.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Tips & Tricks for your Pallet Projects

There is still time to enter your pallet creation in PalletPalooza! 
Here is a quick round up of tips & tricks that will help you get your project finished!
Finding the Perfect Pallet A perfect pallet doesn't mean new wood, no splinters, or no bent nails. Perfect means a pallet that perfectly fits your vision for your pallet project.Read More....
Pallets at Goodwill
Where can you find pallets for free?
PalletPalooza Pallet Providers
Scroll down on the Enter Tab of the website and you will see a list of our sponsoring pallet providers. They often have have pallets available at their locations on a first come first serve basis. Just click on their link to see their location, hours, and check on availability.

Local Businesses
As you a driving through your town, you will be surprised how many pallets you see at your local grocery and hardware stores, landscape businesses, construction companies, and feed stores. Ask them if their pallets are available to take.
Sometimes free pallets are listed on Craigslist. Go to the Free section in the "For Sale" category.

Recycling Centers and Township Dump Days Pallets are large items and they might be just dumped. You may be able to rescue a couple of these and recycle them into an amazing project.

Ask Friends and Family (and Frenemies too!)
Ask them on Facebook, give them a call, let them know what you are up to and you might be surprise how often you hear "Oh yeah, I've got a couple of pallets laying around."

So many different types of pallets! Check out PalletPalooza Sponsor Ultimate Guide to Upcycling with Pallets.
You found your free pallets, picking the perfect ones, but how to get these things apart? Pallets are meant to be very durable, they are not meant to come apart easily. The nails are often heat set, so they swell in the wood. The wood is dry, beat up and has cracks already. Or your pallet was repaired for reuse several times so it has tons of nails holding it together. It can be very frustrating to have found your pallets, and then lose a lot of the wood to giant splits. Visit some of these links. I found that every pallet is different in how it wants to come apart, and knowing different techniques will be helpful.

Get a pallet breaker tool: This is the one I use here at Goodwill.

Crescent Tool DKB44X Bull Bar

If you are committed to DIY - here is a link to make your own pallet busting tool from

Very good short video of tips for pulling out nails.Re-claiming Pallets Made Easy!! - Pulling Nails!

I like how calls taking apart a pallet "harvesting wood". :)
She uses a  Dremel Multi-Max, which is new to me, but now I want one.
I had never used a reciprocating saw before I started creating things with pallets. Another very handy tool. Check out and look for her video - very helpful.

How about a round up inside our round up of painting techniques?
A slide show of tips to get you started is on
Great video links in Best Pallet Wood Painting Tips
Like the weathered wood look? Visit for her techniques.

This is it! Time to enter your pallet creation in PalletPalooza! June 30th is the last day to enter at 

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Hand-Crafted Beer & Pallets

When a couple of co-workers from the unofficial beer club told the PalletPalooza Team that if we wanted to see some cool stuff made out of pallets then we needed to visit One Well Brewing in Portage, MI .

We were not disappointed!
It was really cool to see the beautiful pallet tables, 
the pallet lined bar and pallet wood on the walls. 
It had all of my decor favorites!
Reclaimed wood, some burlap here and there, chalkboards, and a board game wall. 

We shared with co-owner Chris O’Neill about PalletPalooza™ and yeah! he said yes right away to being a host venue for displaying an entry. 
Chris O'Neill & T.J. Waldofsky
Our Marketing intern Victor and myself stopped in for a second visit for a late lunch (we had grilled cheese sandwiches and they were the bomb dot com) and since we were working, had the hand-crafted Root Beer, which was also delicious. :) 

We met the other co-owner T.J. Waldofsky and got to know a little bit more about their use of pallets in the gorgeous and rustic Tap House. Here is our conversation:
I love all of the pallet projects you have at One Well Brewing. You have 8+ tables made from pallets, your bar is lined with pallet wood and I see pallets being used on the walls and trim. Why did you choose to work with pallets?

T.J. We chose to work with pallets for a lot of reasons. First and foremost, we decided that pallets would be a free way to incorporate wooden elements in our tap house (we got all of the pallets for free). We wanted to include a lot of natural wood characteristics at One Well, but we were on a shoestring budget and wood can get expensive. Secondly, we really love and embrace the idea of upcycling and repurposing materials. Most of the wood, bricks and other elements in our tap house were reclaimed and repurposed. We are all about eco-friendliness and sustainability - it is one of our core values, so we decided that this would be a great way to embrace that. And finally, we decided to use pallet wood because it looks awesome! Each piece of wood has its own unique store and characteristics, and we strongly believe that maps well with our story.  

Do you remember how many pallets you used? I am sure it took a lot pallets, and a lot of effort taking them apart, where did you find them all?

We got the majority of our pallets from a local company called Stafford-Smith. They put them out for the taking every few days, so we would lurk and wait until they had a new batch. We found a few others around the greater Kalamazoo area, but the bulk came from Stafford-Smith. It is hard to estimate how many that we used because you do end up with some breakage/waste/unusable pieces, but if I had to take a guess I'd imagine that we probably used close to 50 when all was said and done.  

All of your pallet work is so smooth, I know from experience working with pallet that that is a lot of work. Can you tell us a little bit about your process and how you achieved such a glossy finish for the table tops?

Chris and our Head Cellerman, Tom Crookston, did most of the skilled work (breaking down the pallets, grinding off the nails, building and assembling the tables, sanding the surfaces, etc.) and my wife, Bella Waldofsky, and I did a most of the clear coat work. The first step in making them smooth was to grind out all of the nails at the surface and remove or pound down any nails that were barely sticking out. This was a diligent process that involved multiple people feeling all surfaces so that no sharp edge was left exposed. After that, we used a hand belt sander to sand the surfaces. After the table were assembled, we put about eight coats of polyurethane on them. This process took a really long time, but it was the key part to ensure that the tables were very smooth. After the first three or four coats the splinters started to go away because they were thoroughly coated. After eight coats you couldn't find a splinter at all. We probably put more coats of polyurethane then needed, but we figured we should put more than required because of the wear and tear they would see in a commercial restaurant setting. The final step of the process was to coat the cracks on the top so beer and liquid wouldn't get trapped between the wooden planks. This helped to protect the wood from molding or rotting. Chris used a combination of wood glue and sawdust to accomplish a natural look that also protected the wood. 

I know I love pallets, all things created out of pallets. What kind of comments do you get from your customers, are they loving the pallet look too?

Our customer absolutely love them! People stop by all of the time and are inspired by the work. Some of them have been working with pallets for awhile, and they appreciate our ideas. Others have never worked with pallet wood and we have encouraged them to try. It is great seeing them come in with photos of the work that they have done. 
One Well has been open for over a year and your pallet tables have seen a lot of action with rounds of beer, hot plates of food, and lively board games on your game night, and I don’t know, do people arm wrestle at breweries? Are you happy with how they are holding up?

We opened for business on November 28, 2014, so we've been at it for about a year and eight months. Crazy how time flies. Other than a few minor sealant work on the tops at the beginning, they have held up really well! They do see a lot of action - beer, hot plates, the occasional thumb wrestling - but we haven't really noticed much wear on them. 

As a daughter of parents who had their own business, I know and appreciate what it takes to start a business and the long hours and efforts that you put in. I also know that creating things with pallets is a lot of work and you could just order something off of the internet, or go buy new wood. Would you do it again? 

Definitely we'd do it again! At this point we are a bit more established so we don't really need to do it, but it is honestly very rewarding and we/our customer appreciate the unique look and ideas that we've come up with. That said, I would imagine that we might hire someone to help out the next time around so our time is free to focus on running the business :) 

And lastly, do you have any advice for someone who is thinking about taking on an ambitious project like this?

I'd suggest starting small and growing from there. there are so many cool projects that you can do, but if you take on too much it might be a bit daunting, especially if you've never done woodwork before. Oh, and have fun with it! 
Cheers to T.J. and Chris and One Well Brewing for supporting Goodwill Industries of SW MI and our new fundraiser PalletPalooza™! 
Side note - Stafford-Smith in Kalamazoo is a pallet provider for PalletPalooza. A big thank you to them - looks like the community loves your pallets! 
Weekend Warriors! This is the last weekend to make something out of recycled pallets and enter PalletPalooza!
 Have some fun, support a good cause, and you could win a cash prize! 
Deadline is June 30th, 2016

Monday, June 20, 2016

VanderSalm's Pallet Flower Stand

Did you miss VanderSalm's Flowershop & Garden Center's Pallet Flower Stand Demo?

We want to give a big THANK YOU to VanderSalm's in Kalamazoo for giving a demonstration this past Saturday and encouraging everyone to give a pallet project a try.
This was the project they demonstrated.

It is so gorgeous filled with flowers - no wonder the pallet look is so hot!
If you go to Goodwill's Facebook Page - you can see a short live feed from the event.

Here are other inspiring pallet garden projects at VanderSalm's:

Please stop by VanderSalm's and enjoy a nice walk around the place. They would be happy to answer any questions you have about creating your own pallet project today! 
We can't believe it! 

This coming weekend is the last weekend to finish your pallet project and submit it to PalletPalooza! 

The deadline to enter is June 30, 2016

Have some fun, support a good cause, and you could win a cash prize! 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Pallet Feather Flag Stand

We just got this awesome feather flag for PalletPalooza Day and other events.

Checking the fit and sturdiness inside our sorting department. 
 But being that I do a lot of the purchasing at Goodwill and that I am frugal both personally and at work, I didn't purchase the flag stands. I re-purposed an old pallet of course! I made a lucky find of a large pallet with 2" thick wood. It had a lot of giant staples that must have held a sheet of corrugated, but with a little work, a couple screws and corner brackets, voila!

A virtually free and sturdy base. Happy am I.
Have you already made a Pallet Creation in the past? Show it off and enter it into PalletPalooza™! Enter today at
Need more encouragement to enter? Here are some reasons people are entering.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Pallet Projects for Father's Day

Father's Day is coming up soon. You could buy Dad another tie (Do a lot of Dad's still wear those in our casual society????) But how about something handmade? We put together some great ideas that fall into all four categories of our PalletPalooza Competition that will be sure to make your father feel loved and appreciated.
Sorry for the picture with snow just as we are headed for summer here in Michigan, but a good dad is always prepared! Using free pallets to store wood for winter... awesome.
A sturdy pallet workbench that is customized for a tall man.
Does your Dad love to cook? This is a very handsome spice rack.

This chair is made from pallets and a wooden spool.
Bring back some retro memories with this Nentendo NES pallet table. Nintendo NES

Something for the sports dad...
Baseball Flower Pallet Decor
And the outdoors dad....

Make dad a pallet sign that lets him know how much you love him 24/7.

On a personal note.... My beloved father is living in heaven now, and he was the kind of man who could fix and build anything. I feel connected to him when ever I fix something like my lawnmower or build something like a pallet table. Thank you Dad for teaching me these skills. 

Monday, June 13, 2016

Repurposing Pallets for Good

PalletPalooza came about as a unique and fun way to raise funds for Goodwill Industries of Southwestern Michigan and support the mission of the organization.

This past weekend we were promoting PalletPalooza at the Summer Craft Show at the Expo Center in Kalamazoo. It was fun sharing our event with the other vendors, some who were selling reclaimed wood and pallet crafts. (Yeah!) and talking with visitors to the show.

One man who stopped by to get one of our flyers said that he and his family just returned from a trip to Thailand. He said that there is a huge and thriving pallet industry there. He mentioned that the pallets at one time were made of the hardwood teak - which is a valuable tropical wood. Of course this was intriguing and I have been searching the internet for information about Thailand and pallets.

One of the articles I stumbled upon was a ministry that teaches woodworking classes to fathers in Bangkok as a way to earn extra money.

I found a couple of  other projects featuring pallets that were being done to help one another and so here is my round up Recycling Pallets for Good.
Building Pallet Furniture Restore is a small training/business initiative set up as a way to create opportunities for fathers we know who are unemployed but have a desire to work. Restore uses recycled pallet wood to build pieces of furniture for sale. From time to time, Restore hosts workshops teaching basic carpentry skills and tool maintenance for people looking to pick up a trade and find work. Read the rest here.

Rooftop Garden Mother Earth magazine featured an article about a rooftop school garden in Bangkok. The garden is helpful in teaching students about gardening skills. They also sell the produce to staff and parents to buy more seeds and supplies. They started the garden by building 50 raised garden beds made out of 100 donated wood  pallets. Read the whole story here. 

Pallet Stage Church Stage Designs is a whole website to help churches build stages for their building or an event. They have a multitude of ideas to create designs using recycled wood pallets. Learn more here.

Horse Barn Lean-To 
Walk onWater is a non-profit organization dedicated to giving individuals the opportunity to experience and bond with horses in a safe and loving environment.  A group of students from Miami University helped them build a lean-to from recycled pallets for the ministry's miniature horses.
Walk on Water
Time is running out to enter PalletPalooza! The deadline is June 30th, 2016. 
Enter Today!

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Introducing our Final PalletPalooza 2016 Judge - Bridget Fox

We are so pleased to announce that Bridget Fox -  expert in all things upcycled - is our fourth and final PalletPalooza Judge. We asked Bridget to share a bit about herself....

I’m Bridget Fox.  I am honored & so excited to be one of the judges for Kalamazoo’s first Palletpalooza!  I took my first art class at the KIA at age 4 & from that time on, I knew I had to create.  I have a degree in fine art from the Art Institute of Chicago & have also lived in San Francisco, but Kalamazoo is my home & I have been back for more than 20 years.  In the late 1980’s & early 90’s my passion & love of second hand finds from thrift shops, flea markets & garage sales became an obsession.  I discovered just how creative I could be on a high school & college budget.  Even to this day, most of my home decor & furnishings as well as my wardrobe is mostly second hand, not for affordability, but because it’s who I am…it’s my style.
Bridget Fox
I come from an entrepreneurial family & have been a business owner myself.  Maybe you remember me from co-owning Bella Patina, which was located on South Street in downtown Kalamazoo from 2012-15, or maybe you remember my family who owned the Knollwood Tavern from 1949-98.  Co-owning Bella Patina was a dream fulfilled!  My business partner, Michelle & I were passionate about what we could make from trash picked items & would turn them into functional works of art.  From littles, like jewelry to large scale furniture & home decor, we repurposed, recycled & reinvented these found items.  Our favorite trash picked “go to” items were always pallets.  I can not begin to tell you how many things we created from that wood! My favorite quote by Henry David Thoreau says it all: "It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.

I have taught many crafting workshops to both children & adults using recycled materials. I have created thousands of handmade items that have been sold locally & nationwide.  For many years, I have maintained inventory in Michigan boutiques through wholesale or consignment, have participated in numerous craft fairs & flea markets & sell online.  One of the things I’m most in awe of is the hundreds of custom orders that clients have asked me to create for them over the years.  And, I do believe most everyone I know has at one time or another received a handmade gift from me…it’s what I love to do!

Since closing Bella Patina's brick-&-mortar a year ago, I have taken a much needed creative break.  Every once in a while I find I need to do’s therapeutic & helps me to reboot & reinvent myself.  My path has definitely been an adventure & I love who I am & what I do!  But until I get the paint brush back out or use my glue gun full time, you can find me at Sticks & Stones, where I manage the downtown Kalamazoo location for my friend, Susan.

xo~ Bridget
Follow Bridget on social media...

and check out her Esty Shops.
Ready to sign up for PalletPalooza? 
The deadline is June 30, 2016. 

Click on over to

Monday, June 6, 2016

Introducing PalletPalooza 2016 Judge Matt Giraud

Isn't this exciting! We are so happy to have Matt Giraud on the PalletPalooza Team as a judge for our inaugural PalletPalooza™ competition!
Matt Giraud

Matt Giraud is a singer/songwriter from Kalamazoo, Michigan who achieved national recognition and acclaim for his performances on the hit Fox TV show, American Idol. As a favorite of the judges, he was the first ever recipient of the judges’ save, Matt went on to finish 5th on Season 8 of American Idol (2008-2009).

Since then, Matt has appeared on various media outlets and talk shows (i.e. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Live with Regis & Kelly). He continues to tour all over the world and most recently has been playing with some of the biggest symphonies in the US. He has performed on stages such as The Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, The Phoenix Symphony Hall in Phoenix and for a crowd of over 9000 for the Taste of Kalamazoo in Michigan.

Matt has also had major successes on iTunes by working with seasoned songwriters and artists. He recorded a cover of the song "You Don't Know Me" with Anna Wilson, which can be found on her album titled Countrypolitan Duets. The song went on to be #1 on the iTunes Jazz chart in 2010. He also recorded the song “Thank You” with Jim Brickman in 2010, which reached #16 on the Hot AC charts.

Matt continues to perform and write new music. He  released a full-length album in 2014 and released an EP called "Live at River City" on December 17, 2013.

Matt's Official Website:

And more good stuff:

Ready to enter PalletPalooza? The deadline to enter and submit photos of your finished creation is Midnight June 30, 2016. 
Enter Here:

Friday, June 3, 2016

Welcome PalletPalooza Judges Bob Gillion and Thom Clark

Say Hello to Bob Gillion and Thom Clark, owners of Retro in Kalamazoo. We are very happy to have them say "Yes" to being two of our Judges for PalletPalooza 2016!
Bob Gillion & Thom Clark
Bob Gillion graduated from Western Michigan University with a degree in fine arts. He managed two picture framing shops for 15 years before working for a mortgage company and has always loved mid-century modern furniture and its design.

Thom Clark grew up in Mattawan, MI and has had a knack for finding old and unique items since he was 13, and found out that people were willing to buy his finds like weird lamps, car parts, hubcaps, license plates, and pieces of tractors. He was a custom detailer of cars until 2000 when he opened Retro with Bob Gillion.  
Funky, Luxurious, Swanky - these are words to describe what you will find at Retro in Kalamazoo. Retro has been in business in the Kalamazoo area since 2000 and here you will find unique, clean, and high quality mid-century furniture and accessories.
You can keep up with all that is happening at Retro - like book signings, Art Hop Stop, & Mimosa Mornings!
Retro News to Know
Connect with Bob & Thom

Ready to sign up for PalletPalooza? The deadline is June 30, 2016. 
Click on over to

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Introducing PalletPalooza™ 2016 Judge - Jim Bridenstine

We are so excited to announce our Judges for PalletPalooza 2016. Our distiguished judges will be deciding the top five pallet projects in each of the four categories. They also will be awarding the overall PalletPalooza 2016 Winner! Today we would like to introduce you to PalletPalooza Judge Jim Bridenstine.
Jim Bridenstine
Jim Bridenstine served as the Executive Director of the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts for over 24, almost 25, years. He is an art historian who earned a bachelor's degree in history from The College of Holy Cross and a master's degree in the History of Art (American Art) from George Washington University. He also completed Harvard University's Institute of Arts Administration program. Prior to the KIA, Bridenstine was the director of the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House. Raised in Detroit, he also worked at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Toledo Museum of Art.  Bridenstine helped build the KIA's permanent collection, which has developed into more than 4,200 pieces, 1,700 of them collected during his tenure.

Currently he is enjoying retirement but is still very active in the Kalamazoo scene.
The deadline to enter PalletPalooza is June 30th! So don't delay! Your projects must be completed and a photo submitted by midnight 6/30/16.
Enter at
Have questions? You can reach us at 269.382.0490 or email

VanderSalm's Flower & Garden Center FREE Pallet Garden Demo

VanderSalm's Flower & Garden Center in Kalamazoo, Michigan is hosting a free pallet garden demonstration for PalletPalooza™ June 18th at 2 PM.

VanderSalms has been using pallets to create arrangements using a variety of plants, including succulents.

If you have wanted to try a garden project with pallets, here is your chance to come to a free demonstration and also ask questions like "What type of soil to use for succulents?" or "What is the best way to line your pallet?"

VanderSalm's is full of ideas to create a dream garden space for indoors and outdoors. And what fun it was to walk through the garden center and see all of the ways they use pallets to display the flowers and plants.

They are located at 1120 S. Burdick St. P.O. Box 51666 Kalamazoo, Mi 49001
Phone 800-232-7134

The deadline for entering PalletPalooza is June 30, 2016
Enter PalletPalooza
Interested in having a booth to sell more pallet creations on PalletPalooza Day, August 18, 2016? You can rent a 10 x 10 booth space for an additional $50. Spaces are limited and are reserved on a first come/first serve basis. 10% of the items you are selling must be pallet related. Items that you wish to sell must be approved by PalletPalooza Team. Contact for more information.