Pine Barren Pallet Works: Woodworking Power Duo in South Jersey

Today we’re stepping into the world of Pine Barren Pallet Works, a dynamic small business rooted in the heart of South Jersey and fueled by the passion of two self-taught dreamers. Meet Patrick, a former travel photographer who traded life in his skoolie named "Angela" to become a full-time woodworker in 2019. His talent extends to crafting exquisite charcuterie boards, reclaimed/hardwood tables, and a myriad of other custom creations. Joining him on this creative journey is Carlina, a D1 athlete who played field hockey for Rutgers and despite never having touched a saw before, has transformed into a skilled artisan. Together, Patrick and Carlina pour their hearts into their craft, offering a diverse range of products such as massive mosaics, signs, and wall art that captivate customers across the country. Both dedicated to pursuing their dream full-time, and so we’re beyond thrilled to shine a spotlight on Pine Barren Pallet Works.

Keep on reading to hear a little more about their journey behind the scenes!

*All images featured in this blog are by Justin Mabie


Could you please introduce yourself and provide a brief overview of your background as a maker/woodworker?

Patrick Bilazzo and Carlina Sacco: We are the duo that make up Pine Barren Pallet Works. We started full time “making” about 4 years ago and haven’t looked back since! 

What initially inspired you to start creating and making things?

Patrick- I have always been creative since before I can remember. Always carrying a drawing book with me to doodle anywhere and everywhere we went. Before we started our journey with this business I turned a school bus into my home for a couple of years while I did travel photography and farm work. So it has always just been a natural progression of constantly creating.

How would you describe your creative process? Do you have any rituals or routines that you follow?

Together we like to discuss our process out loud and bounce ideas back and forth before we actually tackle the project at hand. Once it’s all mapped out, we usually just wing it haha

Can you share a specific project or creation that you're particularly proud of? Please provide details about the concept, materials used, and the story behind it.

Patrick- we’ve built many high end items and custom orders but I have to say the project that I am most proud of is the “Pallet House”. The Pallet house was a glorified “shed” that we built during the shutdown of 2020. We built it for customers to have a place to come pick up their custom orders and check out what else we had to offer. We used 95% recycled materials (pallets, plywood from crates, insulation from a home remodel, 100 year old beams from a building in Atlantic City, etc). 

Carlina- my favorite project that I’ve created was a 6‘ x 8‘ three-piece mosaic. I’m very proud of that one. The materials that I used consist of wood copper foil and preserved moss that was attached with TotalBoat epoxy.

Do you have a favorite tool or technique that you frequently use in your projects? Why do you enjoy working with it?

Carlina- two of my favorite tools in the shop are the mitersaw and the scroll saw.  They’re what I mainly use for all of my signs and mosaics. I especially like using the scroll saw because it is very hands-on and I am in full control while using it. A product that I love to use in the shop is also TotalBoat High Performance Epoxy. I try to use a lot of moss in my pieces, and I make sure to always use TotalBoat to secure it.



Can you describe a challenging project or obstacle you've encountered during your journey as a maker/woodworker? How did you overcome it?

I think we both agree that every project has its challenges. As we think back on all of the projects we’ve ever done, I don’t think a single one has gone smoothly without a few hiccups along the way. We’ve taken time to realize that every one of these so-called set-backs are also the best learning experiences and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them.

Have you ever collaborated with other makers or artists? If so, can you share a memorable collaboration experience and the outcome?

Yes! I think our largest collaboration project was our festival “Pine Barren Makers Fest”. It was a collaboration of our friends and makers coming together to create a wonderful experience for all that attended! We can’t wait to throw the Third Annual PB Makers Fest on September 21st & 22nd, 2024!

How do you balance your creative pursuits with other aspects of your life? Do you have any tips for maintaining a productive and fulfilling creative practice?

Our work/home life balance is leaning more heavily toward “work” in recent years. Since we work together and have similar dreams and aspirations, we put all of our free time and effort into our creative practices and our businesses. Something specific that helps us is to create lists throughout the day and organize them by priority.

Could you share some behind-the-scenes insights or interesting anecdotes related to your work?

Our entire business was started accidentally!  I, Patrick, made a coffee table for myself out of pallets and Carlina listed it on FB marketplace without telling me. The table sold overnight and the rest was history!

How do you stay inspired and motivated as a maker? Are there any sources of inspiration that you regularly turn to?  

We get inspired through the maker community. We try to talk to our maker friends on the phone regularly or shoot messages back-and-forth to stay updated and hear what they’re doing. We also like to bounce ideas back-and-forth between them to get their insight and it constantly keeps the creative juices flowing.

Can you tell us about a project that didn't turn out as expected? What did you learn from that experience?

The “Pallet House” and the fire that destroyed it. We had this vision and this dream of always having the little pallet house. It was small and quaint and something that we thought our grandkids would get to see. At the moment, watching everything we worked so hard for go up in flames, it completely destroyed us and we thought it was going to be the end of our little business. However, we took the fuel from the fire and pushed toward bigger and better things. In this experience, we learned that one moment may seem devastating and like it’s the end of the world but it might just be the very thing you need to push you to the next step. Looking back, the fire is what gave us the push to start the “Pine Barren Makers Fest” as well as gave us the opportunity to pursue our dream of owning our own “Maker” store.



Are there any upcoming projects or collaborations that you're excited about and would like to share?

Our most exciting project to date is coming up in the new year. We are renovating and building out our new woodshop and workspace behind our store “Makers Handmade!”

Can you share some advice or words of wisdom for aspiring makers/woodworkers who are just starting their creative journeys?

Fail. Mess things up over and over again until you learn from your mistakes and become proficient in all that you do. Without failure there is no growth!! So don’t be afraid to just take that step/make that cut and go for it!

For more history behind Patrick and Carlina’s journey, check out The Woodworking Maker Couple, by Justin Mabie. And if you’re ever in the Hammonton area of South Jersey, be sure to check out their storefront Makers Handmade where they’re currently in the process of outfitting a massive new shop that shares space behind the storefront. Word on the street is that there will be a window where customers will be able to watch their custom pieces being built!

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