Showing posts with label skids. Show all posts
Showing posts with label skids. Show all posts

Home-made Wild Bird Feeder from Repurposed Materials - A is for Apple House

Our handsome Polish crested cockerel Ruffles showing far too much interest in this easy to make pallet wood food dispenser, for use with fruit or fat balls.

This is something to make for your own garden but also we have made and given away many as presents. They make ideal gifts to take round to a house warming or Birthday party. We also have on this blog the 'how-tos' for various design bird boxes and an insect hotel all of which have film follow-ups. Many of our projects take less than an hour to assemble, even including the preparation. They also use a minimum of tools and purchased extras and they have scope for personalised, individual decoration and imagination. If you are really inventive you could even recuperate all your nails and tacks and take the price of your presents down to zero. The wood used in all the projects is untreated pallet wood so if you follow these links you will be able to pick up two articles with information on finding and using pallets:

An Aid to Orchard management

We first came across the idea for an apple house in a garden centre in Holland it consisted of a piece of wood with the outline of an apple cut out of it. There was a wire to hold the fruit in place and a couple of strips on top to make a protective roof and give it the appearance of a house.

Apple picking with the Quality Control Inspectorate

Let them eat grapes. Omnivores also means fruitivores

We liked the idea for an apple house for our garden because we have a lot of apple trees and windfalls but the wild birds don't really get a look in with all the competition. I also think that wild birds feel more vulnerable eating on the ground, so the Apple House provides them with a safer and more natural position in which to enjoy the fruit.

Testing, testing, one, two three and four!

There is another more practical consideration for us as well and why this will be a much appreciated gift for anyone who has late apples, such as Jonagold. These fruit start to ripen  as the garden is beginning to prepare for Winter and the wild birds start to feel the urgency to store up some extra vitamins and minerals. So as Autumn begins to bite, so do they and finding the fruit not quite ripe, they move on, hopping and hoping for the next and the next apple to be ready.

Some thoughts about tools

The Apple House as designed for our video uses a minimum of simple hand tools and this bird feeder can with help and supervision easily be made part of a holiday project to get children interested in self-sufficiency and recycling.  Furthermore it can also be used as a way of introducing children to the practical use of hand tools, something which could be of immeasurable use in the not too distant future. As for financial concerns,  buying  power tools has never been cheaper, over the past couple of decades these latter have become a drug on the market and  you can pick up a handy and good quality cordless screwdriver, for example, for around 10 euros/dollars/pounds. Good hand tools however, are another story, 1930s novels are full of old men complaining about the quality of steel, they didn't know when they were well off.

You are often better buying old tools at a car boot or yard sale, they are usually of excellent quality and because of this can be sharpened and/or reset. Be aware of brand name old tools, over the past few years these have become collectors items and can now command very high prices. However, good tools are an investment and the more you become acquainted with them the more you will be competent to build up a fine collection.
                                                We are somewhere in the middle.

For the Apple House the tools you will need are as follows: a saw, tri-square, hammer and a tape measure.

You will also need the following materials and fixings, a pallet wood plank and block, some slats from a fruit crate, a few nails and tacks and some string. In addition you will need some interesting looking twigs and a pair of scissors or secateurs.

Handy hint for all projects - No tri-square? Use a CD box.

I get my fruit crates from my local organic shop, where we do our food shopping. They also give me the occasional pallet. In this way I know these crates come from organic growers and will not have contained potentially hazardous chemically treated fruit and veg.

The Apple House itself can be recycled in the Spring to become a nest box for a small bird, such as a wren, blue tit or robin. All it needs is the addition of a tacked on front and back made of fruit crate slats. Remove the twigs and in the Autumn transform it back to an Apple House.

With the addition of a piece of wood laid across the twigs the Apple House can be transformed into a table for small birds after the apples have all gone. Use string to attach rinds and nuts to the twigs for additional avian gourmet treats.

Now sit back, relax and watch Andy make the 'Apple House':

Hope you get to make one.

If you enjoyed this article, please feel free to share it, comment and/or ask questions.

Cheers, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014

Where & How to Collect Pallets - Identifying untreated wood, safety and good housekeeping

Pallets - The Low-down - Where, What and How?

So you've been round to your local big chain supermarket and they've told you all their pallets are reused. Well this maybe true for them but not for all pallets. In Europe consigned/reusable pallets are painted a specific colour, which designates the company who owns them. Funnily enough sometimes bits of these blue and red pallets actually turn up on building sites in scrap wood but they are the least useful of all the pallets and I would never use them. What you are looking for are the unpainted untreated pallets.

The pallet shown above is a very unusual one in that it is an 'in-house' pallet made of untreated wood for the specific purpose of transporting a display stand for an exhibition. It was put out for me after use.

BE PREPARED Any time we are out in our car I carry what I call my pallet finder's kit:


quality work gloves

wood saw

steel toe capped work boots

a hard hat (for entering building sites)

and a red flag!

That way I'm ready for a maximum pallet haul!

For a specific job you may also require thicker or longer timber so you should have a whole range of pallet providers in your recuperating itinerary. Pallet collecting is logical. Firms which transport/manufacture/sell large and heavy items have substantial pallets. So a few of the companies I collect from, for example, are swimming pool manufacturers, exhibition stand makers and a double glazing and joinery firm. All these are small family type businesses. I know the people who own them and/or the foreman. I didn't start out knowing them I just saw the pallets and went in and asked.

The upright from a plant transporter pallet.

Using five of these uprights I created the sides of the greenhouse frame below.

This is one of my first major pallet wood projects and you can find the link to the written article and film: The Five Euro Greenhouse, which shows the detailed construction at end of this post.

After I had made the above greenhouse, I then went on to design and make another but this time combining recuperated glass windows with the pallet wood frame, again there is a link at the end of this post.

Let Companies Know What You Are Doing With Their Pallets

I always make a point of telling the providers why I want the pallets and I ask for their e-mail addresses to send pictures of the finished item. I also give out  links to my youtube site so they can see the films. That way my pallet donors get feedback on the transformation of an eyesore and nuisance which was hanging around their parking lot. There is another side to this too, many of these businesses are only too glad to find I am recycling this resource. As intelligent, thinking people, they are only too aware that their waste is ending up in landfill and/or is being burnt in open fields and they are, to say the least, not very comfortable with this idea. So in repurposing and reusing pallets you are, helping yourself, helping others and helping in the long-term to conserve the planet. Often company personnel will see you entering their premises and bring out pallets fresh from the warehouse, on rainy days this can be very welcome!

Cracking the pallet codes

Understanding pallet 'seals' is an important factor and something you need to mug-up on before you set out on your first collecting trip. There are many sites including Wikipedia, which will explain these but I'm posting this here to give you an example of what you are looking for.

This 'seal' will be located on one of the pallet blocks:

The 'wheat stamp' denotes IPPC compliance, confirming the pallet to be made of de-barked wood. Useful if you were unsure whether the wood was real!

DK -  the country code i.e. in this case Denmark.

8C - the pallet manufacturer.

S5 - the treatment company.

HT - Heat Treated = Gravy!

All wooden crates and pallets in 74 countries of the world have an International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) seal on them. These denote several things but the most important are the bottom two letters - you are looking for pallets with no chemical treatment. In the US fumigation with methyl bromide, coded MB, is more common than in Europe, where heat treatment (HT) is the norm. However, treated pallets do occur in Europe even though you will find several sites informing you they don't! In the case of chemical treatment you will also see the resultant discolouration. Many garden centre suppliers, for example, dip items or conveyor spray them and their carrier pallets simultaneously and you will see immediate evidence of this in the blue-green 'dye' infusing the whole pallet.

Here's something we haven't seen before on pallets but is very welcome. It's the eco label for managed and sustainable forestry. Read all about it here:

Happy Hunting!

All the best and thanks for dropping by and if you enjoyed this post, please feel free to share, ask questions or comment.
Cheers, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014


A Few Guidelines for Collecting Pallets

I thought it might be helpful if I shared my five rules to make it easier for you to obtain the basic more

How to Dismantle Pallets for free Carpentry Wood

The first thing to do with your pallet when you’ve got it out of the car is look underneath it and see if the nails attaching the planks are more

The 5 Euro/Dollar/Pound Greenhouse

Home-made low cost greenhouse designed to use free untreated pallet wood. How to build a viable, safe, year-round food production more 

Home-made, Big Cheap Glass Greenhouse from Old Windows Pt 1 (of 3) - Design

The idea for the greenhouse was to have something that was both decorative and more

DIY verandah-style greenhouse, sunspace, draught lobby

I love this greenhouse, it seems so right in the surrounding rural scene and it's made from an interesting eclectic mix of more

Pallet Wood Hen House/Chicken Coop & Tiny Tiny House - Part 1 (of 4) Construction

We designed and have already built one of these coops not just as accommodation for the hens but as a prototype we could build here in the workshops... read more

Pallet Wood Garden Gazebo Part 1 - Posts & Framework

We want to spend as much leisure time in the garden as possible. Much as we love our poultry we do draw the line more

Pallet Wood Garden Gazebo Part 2 - Trellis and Door

The perimeter of the garden gazebo now being complete,  the next stage was to make it chicken proof, starting with the more



A Few Guidelines for Collecting Pallets

After reading some of the comments on my videos and Flickr, I thought it might be helpful if I shared my five rules to make it easier for you to obtain the basic materials for these or any other projects you may have in hand.

Five Simple Rules


My first big pallet project was also a gift - a Birthday Present!

Firstly, and most importantly, I only ever take pallets which are of untreated wood - any signs of discolouration due to paint or chemical treatment render them unsuitable.

Secondly, I always ask if I may have the pallets - this obviously is when the pallet is on the premises of an enterprise or site.

Thirdly, if you do take pallets from a site - leave the area better than you found it. Apart from being courteous, you may want to come back for more and should leave the impression that recyclers  ought to be welcomed. More often than not, after your first couple of visits, the proprietor or foreman will tell you to take the pallets without needing to ask. In my experience, from then on the company will often start saving and putting out pallets specifically for you.

Fourthly, safety - wear thick gloves, as pallet wood is sawn and splinters are a pain. Often pallets are discarded because they are broken (by mishandling with forktruck forks or rough handling) this may expose nail points and sharp pieces of broken timber to unprotected pinkies. Also watch out for mis-nailed pieces, where the staples or nails have not been driven straight into the wood and the points stick out from the pallet sides. Building and construction sites are often great for heavy duty untreated pallet wood, it may be well worth investing a couple of euros/dollars/pounds etc., to get yourself equipped with a hard hat, often required for access to a site.

Fifthly, transport - it goes without saying that to bring your booty home ensure that your pallets are properly loaded into or onto your car or trailer and that the properly secured load can not affect you or other road users.

Recycled window and pallet wood window box.

Remember, you are often doing these businesses a favour in taking away rubbish from their forecourt or carparks. Many realise this is so and welcome your visit. With the recuperated windows and doors used in our house and in the construction of the large Greenhouse, the source was a joinery firm - now specialising in replacement double glazing. The Enlightened Proprietor welcomed us with opened arms, as people willing to give a second life to perfectly sound single and double glazed units, which would otherwise have been burned!

Our Poultry are obsessed with DIY and FOOD!

Here is an example of a reasonably easy but professional looking project for reusing pallet wood.

There are also further details on this design and more information within this blog:

All the best and thanks for dropping by.

Cheers, Andy

© Andy Colley 2014