Tools and Supplies Needed

Here is a short list of essential tools you’ll need to build a quick little pallet house. Other tools and supplies will help but this short list will get the job done.


Generator – Power tools need electricity. If you don’t have anywhere to plug into you’ll need a generator and fuel.

Reciprocating Saw – This tool an absolute must for building with pallets. It’s perfect for dismantling pallets, cutting openings for window and doors, trimming down pallets, etc. The stronger the better and the more spare blades you have on hand the better. Many shipping pallets are made from hardwood which is very hard to work with and very hard on tools.

Drill – I prefer corded drills that plug into the wall (or generator) than those weak little battery operated dudes. All the cordless drills I’ve had seem to sit in the charger more than they sit in my hands. When working with hardwood pallets you’ll also quickly learn that the extra torque from a real corded drill is needed. Also have a few good driver bits and drill bits handy.

Circular Saw – A good worm drive or regular circular saw is a great help. If you plan to cut pallets with it have several spare blades handy. Hardwood pallets eat circular saw blades for lunch.

Clamps – A couple of lightweight bar clamps are really handy when working with pallets. For example when you want to screw two pallets together it’s nice to clamp them together first. Screws have a hard time getting a bite into hardwood so when the screw enters the second 2×4 it usually just pushed it away instead of biting into it. When you clamp the pallets together it gives the screw the extra help it needs to make it into the second pallet.

Framing Square – A large framing square will help you keep things strait, especially the window and door bucks.

Tape Measure – One good 25’+ tape measure is always handy.

Pencils – You absolutely need a pencil. Carpenters pencils are better because they make bigger and darker lines and don’t break as easy.

Level – A good bubble level is nice to have but unless you’re building on a flat surface you’ll find your tape measure and framing square the best tools for keeping things strait.

Pry Bar – These are handy when you have a difficult pallet nail. Although the reciprocating saw will do much faster work on nails.

Hammer – I don’t use my hammer much because I’m screwing everything together but it’s always useful to have a hammer.

Staple Gun – For attaching roofing felt and/or house wrap. Be sure to have plenty of staples that match the type of staple gun you buy. You’ll also notice they come in a variety of lengths. I usually get a medium length staple when in doubt.


Screws – You’ll need pounds of 2 and 3 inch screws.

Bolts, Nuts, & Washers – 4 inch and longer. Always use washers on both ends to keep the nut and bolt head from pulling through the wood.

Roofing Felt (tar paper) – You won’t need too much; just enough to cover the roof and maybe the walls if you want an extra seal and can’t find house wrap.

House Wrap – If you want that added seal. Someone tipped me off to a great place to find free house wrap material. Visit a lumber yard when the lumber shipments come in. They tend to use it to wrap the truck loads while in transit and just throw it away.

Caulk and Building Adhesive – Adhesive is good if you want to add more strength to any of your wood connections. Caulk is good for sealing up the house after you sheet it.


If you can think of something I forgot please post a comment and I’ll update the list. Thanks!

2 thoughts on “Tools and Supplies Needed

  1. Regarding bolts – do you use 1/4″ or what size?

    Any special kind of blade for the recip saw?

    Thanks a ton for the tip about the free house wrap – never woulda thought of that! Great idea!

  2. HI, thanks for posting such and easy I think economical idea. I, like many people went through really rough financial times a few years ago, got divorced, lost my 3 dogs in about 6 months of each other (they we 14), got laid off and before all that I owned 4 home and had 3 cars and could do just about anything. Infact I came from a very abusive home, father was an alcoholic and extremely controlling, still is. I sold 2 of my home, not husbands, and lost my my home and now in Santa Cruz I bought for my family. And everything else in in and their cars. I honestly thought putting myself through school and becoming extremely successful my family would be happy. I moved out when I was 16 graduated high school, we either livied in hotels growing up or with family so living in my car part of my Sr yr was not a big deal til I got money for an apartment which I did.

    Long story short I’ve not only been the provider the my family as the oldest daughter with 3 younger brothers I also raised everyone including parents who had me at 16. I’ve personally have been blessed and completed an incredible lifes bucket list of at least 3 people, I’m 47. I was living in SF and two of my brothers who all 3 live in the house I purchased for my family came down to santa cruz to help my dad with his construction business. I have my own Independent Sales Rep Business and other niche markets.

    I’ve gone back up to the city but have been called back, call me stupid or a codependent but I can’t leave my family helpless, I feel like I didn’t my parents didn’t get past the age of 26, not a lot of common sense and problem solving skills.

    My house is in Soquel and it’s an older 6 bedroom house but I’m so used to being on my own and working from home that there’s a lot of friction and arguments in the home between my dad and I. And I need a place I can work on my business, live in a positive environment with my dog and cat, I don’t’ know to many people here and still keep my biz going and help my dad with his construction biz. Both parents are 68, my mom is on disability. My two brothers won’t be getting well soon and I’m trying to talk my youngest brother whos never lived on his own and is 31 to leave and get out there and live. He works and wants to be married but feels guilty because of parents. I’ve been fortunate enough to practically raise that kid and have taken him places in the world that has given him a taste of true living that he will go

    Problem I have to stay here until I get the house everyone is in sold and into something smaller. Until then I CAN NOT be under the same roof it’s too negative and its difficult for me to focus on my days to dos so I have been looking into a small cabin or inlaw quarters that could be bring value to the home when we sale but I haven’t found anything cheap enough or easy to assemble as yours.

    Could you tell me approx. what I’d be looking at for cost? How many people would I need to help. etc etc.

    Thanks you for taking the time to read my text. Life is a learning experience and I never regret just try to turn the neg into positive and in order for me to stay to help them for 6 months I have to a small space of my own. Any information you could provide me with I’d be more than grateful.

    God Bless,

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