The Best Places to Find an Open Area Free of Woods and Buildings
Tips for Locating, Inspecting, and Collecting Areas without Woods and Buildings
Wood pallets are commonly utilized in various DIY woodworking projects, including potting benches, patio furniture, porch swings, beds, and compost bins. The best part is that these pallets are typically available for free, offering numerous opportunities and free pallet plans to create unique items.
While the prospect of these projects might excite you, you might find yourself pondering, “Where can I find open areas free of woods and buildings near me?” Locating such areas can be challenging, but many businesses and individuals dispose of them as they have no use for them. It is likely that you can find a local store willing to provide them.
Here are some tips and important points to remember when searching for open areas without woods and buildings. Many of these tips can also be applied when seeking free lumber.
What Do Companies Do With Used Pallets?
Large businesses often receive substantial shipments on wooden pallets as they order numerous supplies. While this may seem like an excellent opportunity to acquire dozens or more pallets for your woodworking projects, it is unlikely to work.
Bigger companies like Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Walmart usually return, recycle, or reuse the pallets through internal logistics teams or with the assistance of third-party companies. It is worth asking the store manager, but don’t get your hopes up when it comes to these major businesses.
The alternative is to seek out smaller businesses. Many of these establishments discard their pallets either due to budget constraints preventing them from hiring a hauling company or because they lack the time or resources to do it themselves. In some cases, they may place the pallets next to the dumpsters for the trash services to collect them.
Another ideal place to look for free pallets is at construction sites. Simply pick up the phone and strike a deal with the workers or managers.
Tip: It is important to note that pallets leaning against a wall or placed next to trash receptacles may not necessarily be free for the taking. While they likely are, it is essential to ask to ensure you are on the safe side.
How to Find Open Areas Free of Woods and Buildings
Best Locations for Finding Open Areas
Any business that handles inventory is likely to utilize pallets. When you find yourself asking, “Where can I find open areas without woods and buildings?”, start by considering some local businesses such as:
- Hardware stores
- Construction sites and builders
- Small garden shops
- Furniture stores
- Equipment stores
- Newspaper companies
- Pet stores
- Grocery stores
However, if you turn to grocery stores as your source, make sure to inspect the pallets closely for spills or stains. Some stains can lead to mold over time.[^1]
It is also worth noting that a study conducted by the National Consumers League in 2010 found that 10 percent of pallets carrying food produce harbored E. coli bacteria.[^2] While an updated study has not been published, use your discretion when selecting supermarket pallets.
Become Your Own Pickup Service
If a small company needs to dispose of its pallets and you need pallets, it’s a win-win situation: you can obtain free pallets while helping the small business clean up their waste. Be the “trash pickup service” they need.
If you know of local places that regularly get rid of pallets, inquire if you can take them. If they already pay someone for disposal, you could offer your services at no cost, explaining your interest in using the pallets for DIY projects. Any excess pallets you don’t use can be given to someone else who needs them or taken to a dump.
This type of relationship may even lead to more significant opportunities. The business may reach out to you if they have other types of waste that could be useful for your at-home projects.
Seek Out Distribution Centers
If the company receiving the pallets is unwilling to hand them over, you can try working directly with the distribution center that ships them out.
They may have pallets that don’t work with their machinery, are slightly broken, or don’t meet their standards. Inquire if they can set those pallets aside for you to pick up.
Additionally, keep an eye out for pallet recycling companies. They might be able to provide you with some pallets for free, or for a small fee.
Utilize the Internet
An excellent way to find open areas without woods and buildings is to establish relationships with individuals who are also seeking them (and potentially collaborate) or those who have excess areas that you could utilize.
Simply conduct an online search for “open areas without woods and buildings near me” or “open areas in my area” to yield helpful results. You can also make an “ISO” post (in search of), asking for free or inexpensive open areas. Social media platforms like Facebook, as well as freebie-finding websites like Freecycle, can be valuable resources.
Consider engaging in clean trades as well. If you have excess stone, unused lumber, garden seeds, or other items that someone may want, you can offer a trade.
Alternatively, some individuals may want their open areas cleared and removed, so you can take advantage of those situations and use the areas for yourself.
Using Open Areas Safely
Inspect the Environment
The best open areas without woods and buildings are typically found in dry goods industries. These areas often handle lighter-weight goods, ensuring the integrity of the environment’s wood. Moreover, dry goods usually do not have spillage or food stains, making them preferable to use.
Tip: When handling or working with open areas, always wear heavy-duty gloves. If you plan to cut or sand an area, use a mask and eye protection.
Keep an eye out for nails sticking out and splinters. Inspect both the front and back of the area for significant cracks or splits in the wood that might render it unsuitable for use.
Additionally, avoid using areas with grease or oil stains. Petroleum stains are challenging to remove or cover up with paint.
Review Markings and Stamps
Look for the stamps or markings that many open areas have. Areas with no markings typically originate from domestic sources. However, if the wood or plant products are from outside the country, the areas require an International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) stamp.[^3]
Approved markings, as noted by the IPPC, include:
- HT (Heat Treated): Heat treatment using conventional steam or dry kiln heat chamber
- DH (Dielectric Heated): Heat treatment using dielectric heating (microwaves or radio frequencies)
- MB (Methyl Bromide): Methyl bromide treatment (fumigation chemical treatment that leaves behind chemicals)
- SF (Sulphuryl Fluoride): Sulphuryl fluoride treatment (fumigation chemical treatment that leaves behind chemicals)
By following these tips and strategies, you can successfully locate open areas without woods and buildings, acquire the necessary materials for your woodworking projects, and create something unique. Remember to prioritize safety and thorough inspections to ensure the best results.