easy and affordable shelving for my piles of books and supplies
Do not steal pallets. If you look hard enough you can find them for free. I just asked a retailer who I frequent if I could take some and they were happy to. I would also recommend avoiding pallets from food. There is quite a lot of literature about this out there if you need more info.
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Sorry the photos are crappy, they were taken via webcam. In any case, start out with doing a thorough inspection of your pallets. Decide how big and how many shelves you'd like. The pallets I used were half sized so the only had four sideways slats, and since I wanted two rows of shelves, I took out the top and third slats. Simple as that! The hardest decision is to figure out what shelves you want where.
Next remove the slats you've decided have to go. This can be done fairly easily by prying with the claw end of your hammer, and pounding on back of them with the blunt side. The slats are normally secured on the right, left, and in the middle so you'll have to repeat this three times for each slat removed.
After you've got the basis of your shelves you need to inspect again for large staples and splinters, especially if you have kids or pets! Use the claw again to pull what staples you can, sometimes the can just be wiggled out too. wear gloves.
For the staples that you can't get the claw under, I recommend pounding them until they are flush or inset with the wood.
You're done! Find yourself a cozy little strip of wall to lean your pallet shelf against and load it up!