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How to Build an Animal Shelter With Wood Pallets

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Five pallets, 4-feet by 4-feet

  • Black marker

  • Shovel

  • Framing square

  • 1 lb nails, 2-inches long

  • Hammer

  • Tape Measure

  • 80 sq. ft. of cardboard

  • Heavy duty stapler

  • Gloves

  • 1 piece of tin roofing, 8-feet long and 2-feet wide

  • Tin snips

  • 2 rubber stretchable cords with hooks

  • Wood saw

Pallets are an easy and low-cost way to build an animal shelter. Large shelters should not be built using pallets alone due to the lack of structural integrity, but if a smaller shelter is needed, then a handful of pallets and a couple pieces of roofing tin will do the job. Pallets can be acquired for free sometimes on Craigslist or Freecycle.

Name each of the pallets: Floor, Front, Right, Left , and Rear with a black marker.

Level the ground where the shelter will be built using a shovel. Dig away the high spots and fill in the low spots with the soil taken from the high spots. Lay the floor pallet on the ground and check to see if it wobbles by stepping on it. Make leveling adjustments as necessary.

Mark the upward facing perimeter of the floor pallet as follows: Front, Left, Right, and Rear.

Place the pallet marked "Left" upright on the side of the "Floor" pallet marked "Left", so that the slats of the pallet are running horizontally. The pallet should be flush with the outer side of the floor pallet. Use the framing square to make sure the inner angle of the two pallets is square. Nail the "Left" pallet to the floor pallet with 2-inch nails using a hammer.

Place the pallet marked "Right" upright on the side of the "Floor" pallet marked "Right", the same way the pallet marked "Left" was placed. Use the framing square to ensure the angle is square. Nail this pallet to the floor pallet.

Hold the pallet marked "Front" up to the ends of the two upright pallets on the side of the floor pallet marked "Front". Measure 2-inches up from the tops of the two pallets already nailed in place using a tape measure and raise the "Front" pallet so it hangs at that height. Nail this pallet to the two upright pallets marked "Right" and "Left". Hammer a nail in every 12-inches.

Nail the pallet marked "Rear" to the back of the two side pallets at the same height level as the sides. The 2-inch height difference between the front and rear pallet will ensure proper water drainage off of the roof of the shelter.

Climb inside the framed pallets and staple cardboard to the floor and the sides using a heavy duty stapler.

Wear gloves and cut the piece of tin in half with tin snips so that, two pieces, 4-feet in length are available. Place these pieces of tin so they are square over the underlying structure. Allow the tin to overhang the side pallets by 2-inches and 1-inch over the front and rear pallets.

Measure 6-inches down on each side of the pallets marked "Front" and "Rear" and place a mark in the center. Hammer in a 2-inch nail on each of these marks 1/1-2-inches into the wood so that the nail head is sticking 1/2-inch out of the wood.

Hook the rubber stretchable cords to the nail heads on one side of the structure and then over the tin roofing to the nail head on the other side to secure the roof.

Cut a door through the pallet marked "Front" to the desired size of the animal, using a wood saw.


  • Put a piece of remnant carpet over the floor pallet if desired.