History of the Pallet

DAK Equipment & Engineering specializes in helping warehouses maximize their efficiencies, processes, and space by offering the best warehouse consulting services. We’ll analyze the needs of your warehouse and its operations in order to design a plan to maximize your logistics and services. We also offer inventory surveys, slotty analysis, and facility layout and design. Wherever you are facing a challenge in your warehouse, our team can help.

Many people not in the warehouse business have no idea what goes on and just how integral warehouses have been to the development of global commerce. In a previous blog post, we took a look at the history of the warehouse itself. In this blog post, we’ll examine an integral component that helped propel warehouses to their importance today: the wooden pallet. Contact DAK Equipment & Engineering today!

What is a Wood Pallet?

A pallet is essentially some pieces of flat wood nailed together with strategically placed holes for transportation purposes that provide a place for goods to sit. Wood pallets are remarkably stable when goods are placed on top and equally as remarkable for their portability. They are also frequently used to display items for sale.


Ever since humans began transporting goods in mass quantity, they have needed a way to transport them to market. This began simply with a bag or other carrying device. However, as more goods were being produced, wheelbarrows and other bigger objects were needed, such as a cart.

The idea of moving heavy objects on flat pieces of wood has been around since ancient times. The ancient pyramids in Egypt used human power to pull up large stones from quarries on wooden logs and rollers and sometimes on pallet-like platforms.

However, the actual idea of the modern pallet is hard to trace back to one person. Historians know that in the last 1800s, goods were moved in American factories by wooden skids. However, it wasn’t until the advent of modern machinery and vehicles that the pallet that most warehouses know and love, including DAK Equipment & Engineering, appeared.

We can’t ignore the invention and impact that the invention of the lift truck did. Lift trucks could now make possible vertical stacking of loads, which have greatly improved the number of goods a warehouse could hold.

You can trace the development of wooden pallet from patent records. In 1924, the first patent was approved for a “Lift Truck Platform.” The important invention of the pallet is when the development of the bottom deck occurred somewhere between the early 1900s and before World War II. This eliminated the need for the truck driver to continually get in and out of the truck to adjust loads. In 1938, a patent for a pallet jack was filed. And in 1939, another one was filed that used steel stringers. However, it was glaringly obvious throughout World War II that something had to be done in order to more efficiently move goods.

World War II

Before World War II, you would have been hard pressed to find a pallet as we know it today in any warehouse. Some local warehouses made their own pallets, but there was nothing commercially available. Although the forklift had been invented in 1906, it was still relatively new and obscurely used. The US government started to study the problem, particularly in the Office of the Quartermaster General, who came to recommend the process of using forklifts and pallets together to move goods around warehouses, which DAK Equipment & Engineering works to maximize the use of as well with our clients.

Finally, right after World War II, patents were registered for the four-way pallet and a disposable pallet design. However, another problem arose when individuals would make their own pallets to their particular needs. Hence, when pallets were shipped, the arriving company may not be able to accommodate the pallets because they had been made to a wrong size. While pallets today still come in different sizes, they are standard sizes that can be lifted by any forklift. The idea of pallets and their usefulness spread like wildfire after World War II, and our modern warehouse system would not be the same without pallets.

Pallets Today

There are two main types of pallets in use today.

  1. Stringer pallets. Stringer pallets have three pieces of wood (known as a stringer), two on the sides and one in the middle, or some have two pieces in the middle for added support. However, they block entry from two directions.
  2. Block pallets. Block pallets are distinguishable by having blocks on their sides and in the middle. Also known as four-way pallets, these are more versatile because you can lay them however you choose, and a forklift can pick them up from any direction. They also are better than stringer pallets in terms of load capacity.

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Common Pallet Materials Used

  • Wooden pallets. The original pallet material, wood is still by far the most common material for pallets. They are strong, durable, and easy to repair. They adhere better (thanks to our pal, friction) to forklifts and other machinery than plastic or metal pallets. They can get damaged fairly easily, but are usually recycled into other usable materials.
  • Presswood pallets. Made from engineered wood, or presswood, presswood pallets are very light, strong, and easy to move. However, they are damaged easier than their original wood counterparts.
  • Plywood pallets. Popular for light to medium weight shipping needs, plywood pallets are more resistant to moisture than engineered wood, but they do require more care than traditional wooden pallets.
  • Metal pallets. Metal pallets are popular because they are considerably stronger than wooden pallets. These pallets stand the test of time, do not degrade, are not susceptible to pets or water, and last a long time. However, when damaged, they cannot be repaired easily, and they tend to increase the cost of shipping since they weigh more than wood. They are popular though in the food industry since wooden pallets can contain bacteria.
  • Plastic pallets. Plastic pallets have many benefits: stable, strong, safe, lightweight, resistant to water, can be cleaned, last a long time, and have no nails. However, the drawbacks are simple but major: difficult to repair and non-recyclable, not to mention expensive.
  • Corrugated board pallets. The newest addition to the pallet material, corrugated board pallets are lightweight, recyclable, and easy to customize to odd-shaped loads. However, they are not meant for repeat use and deteriorate rapidly in weather conditions.

Pallets have made their way into homes as well for a variety of uses, such as in the garden or in home shops for storage. Furthermore, there are playgrounds made of mulch from recycled wooden pallets. With the variety available today in pallets, DAK Equipment & Engineering notes that you can find a pallet for any of your warehouse needs.


DAK Equipment & Engineering has taken pallets to the next level of service by offering pallet rack and storage solutions for your warehouse. By using our selective pallet racking, you can reach new heights in your warehouse (literally) by customizing your pallet racks by height, depth, bay length, and capacity. You can invest in our K3 Werks systems and pallet racking system to store more inventory, expand your operations, and rotate stock more easily.

DAK Equipment & Engineering helps companies all over the United States develops warehouse solutions to increase efficiencies, processes, and help automate their warehouse. Our professional warehouse consultants excel at saving space, reducing costs, and improving communication within the warehouse. From helping to implement warehouse order picking priorities to making your space more maneuverable for forklifts, DAK Equipment & Engineering can help you formulate and implement a plan to get you to where you want to be in the future. By partnering with us, your warehouse distribution and logistics can run smoothly every day of the year. Contact us today to get started!

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