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Boards and Blocks: Deconstructing the Anatomy of Timber Pallets

January 22, 2024

Sought after for its durability and practical uses — there’s surprisingly a lot to unpack when it comes to the humble timber pallet. While most people may look at a pallet and only see plain planks of wood, we know better! Designing a timber pallet that’s fit for purpose requires an industry expert who understands each of its components and can masterfully piece them together. In this blog, we’ll explore the anatomy of timber pallets, so that you too can recognise a high-quality product or even learn how to upcycle used timber pallets for DIY projects. 




If you’ve ever seen a timber pallet you’re sure to have noticed the long planks of wood that make up the majority of its design. These are referred to as deckboards, and similar to your typical outdoor decking, these horizontal slats lie flat with space between them. Deckboards make up the top and bottom surfaces of the pallet; on the top deck, they provide a flat surface for goods to be placed, while on the bottom deck, they provide additional weight support. 


Stringers or Blocks


Depending on its purpose and design, deckboards are attached to either stringers or blocks using nails and other fasteners. The stringers or blocks form the structural framework of the pallet, ensuring its overall strength. For stringer designs, the top and bottom deckboards are attached using long, narrow, and parallel pieces of timber that run perpendicular to the deckboards. For block designs, they are attached using solid pieces of wood, placed at the corners of the pallet. Block pallets are often considered more durable than stringer pallets and the preferred choice for heavy goods shipping, however, come at a greater cost. 


Deckboard and Stringer Spacing 


During the design process, the spacing between deckboards and stringers is an important consideration to be made. Correct spacing guarantees that a pallet can accommodate the size and weight of the goods it is transporting. Specific spacing depends on the product’s design, load requirements and relevant industry standards.


Pallet Entry Points


To be transported easily, pallets require entry points so they can be lifted by forklifts or hand jacks. Two-way entry, where forks can be inserted from two opposite sides, applies only to stringer pallets, whereas four-way or partial four-way entry can apply to both stringer and block pallets. Four-way entry is also used in the design of plastic pallets


Nails or Fasteners


When all of the components of the pallet have been assembled, they are then secured using nails, screws or other fasteners. Nails or fasteners must be used carefully when crafting a pallet, to ensure it maintains its structural integrity. They prevent the components from separating or shifting during handling, hence reducing the risk of damage to the pallet and the product it is carrying. 




While they’re a small detail, chamfers ensure that pallets can be safely and efficiently handled. A pallet chamfer refers to the bevelled or angled cut on certain parts of the pallet. This design element reduces sharp edges, transforming them to be smoother and rounder and giving the pallet a more refined look. Where and how a pallet manufacturer chooses to chamfer depends on the specific design and functional requirements of the pallet, however, this process is commonly used at entry points to make the transporting process easier. 


Pallet Feet


Some pallets have additional supports or “feet” attached to the bottom deckboard which are used to elevate the pallet slightly off the ground. The most common styles are blocks (attached to each corner of the deckboard) or runners (longer pieces that run along the length or width of the pallet). 


Treatments and Markings 


Customarily, once a timber pallet has been constructed it is heat-treated to prevent decay, insects and other issues. This is a requirement under international regulations for all wooden packaging intended for export purposes. They are also often marked with information such as size, weight capacity, manufacturing date and treatment codes. For example, at Cooperage Pallets each of our heat-treated pallets is stamped with ISPM15 compliance markings — indicating that they are safe for export and import use. 


And there you have it! A functional, durable and strong timber pallet ready to be utilised. Each element is carefully incorporated to ensure the efficient movement and storage of goods within the supply chain. For more information about pallets designed for your needs, contact Cooperage Pallets.