reclaimed hardwood flooring from oak shipping pallets - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum

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post #1 of 61 Old 01-27-2012, 11:43 AM Thread Starter
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reclaimed hardwood flooring from oak shipping pallets

good morning all!

this is my first post. hopefully one of many. here it goes.........

Within the next 5 years or so the wife and i plan on building a new house. One thing were dead set on in this new house is hardwood floors. But not the kind that you buy at a big box store. We want something rustic/older looking and something I can say I had my hands on doing. Somethging 100% unique and you cannot just simply buy.

I thought about cutting down several big red oaks, having them milled and using them for plank flooring,but by the time I did all that, waiting and storing the wood two plus years for the wood to season, I figured it may not be worth it.

I got a price from an outfit in ohio for 2000 sf of reclaimed oak that came from old barns and factories. It was absolutely beautiful! but at a cool price of 24,000 dollars we immediately decided that was way out of our price range.

so I got thinking..... I have access to hundreds of oak shipping pallets. Im thinking about dis-assembeling those pallets, planing the planks down, squaring them up and making a stockpile of pallet flooring for when i build my house. If you google hard wood pallet flooring there are several pictures of beautiful flooring that were made from pallets. here is one that comes to mind

http://viridianwood.com/products/sol...g/fishtail-oak


Is there any one who had done this? what are your feelings on this idea. My only major concern is bugs. I dont want build a new home and outfit it with beautiful flooring, only to find out 2 yrs down the rd. it is infected with termites or some other bugs. Could I treat the wood before it is installed to elivate this problem?

any and all advice is greatly app.

thanks

ross

Last edited by tonkatoy; 01-27-2012 at 11:55 AM.
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post #2 of 61 Old 01-28-2012, 06:15 PM Thread Starter
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post #3 of 61 Old 01-28-2012, 06:50 PM
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You could come up with some very interesting flooring there.

I do not think that bugs are any problem at all. As you prepare a board you will easily be able to tell if there is a bug problem or not. Highly unlikely that you would ever run into termites in that type of lumber.

After you have cut and milled the lumber store in in a location that would not be accessible to bugs. It bugs such as borers do get in it will be obvious. If this wood is inside it is very unlikely that you would have a problem.

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post #4 of 61 Old 01-28-2012, 07:23 PM
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It's a fantastic idea Ross, especially if you have access to enough pallets to make it worthwhile. My only questions/concerns are 1) how will you deal with the nail holes in the center of the planks? Cut them out or just make them a part of the design? And 2nd) do you have access to or plan to buy a shaper? A shaper will make cutting the tongue and grooves much easier.
Good luck with it, it sounds like a great way to recycle.
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post #5 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 02:12 AM
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I would also be worried about hitting stray nails/pieces of metal in those pallets with the planer or any other tool. Expect to go through a fair number of planer knives.

How thick is the pallet wood? You might be left with pretty thin flooring? I know the oak flooring in my house is 3/4" thick, but I don't think I've seen many pallets with wood > 1/2"? Then if you plane that down, you're left with 3/8". Maybe it doesn't matter a whole lot? I, personally, have no idea.

Cool project though. In five years, we expect to see pictures.
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post #6 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 08:57 AM
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I agree with upstate about the thickness. I don't know if it would matter either. I suppose it depends on the subfloor. Pallet wood certainly has a lot of character if you find some good pieces. Milling the red oaks might be a good option if the mill can kiln dry it. That way you aren't waiting 2 + years, although if stickered and stacked right it should take 2 years unless the wood is thick. But, you would probably be well served to do a cost analysis between milled red oaks you fell and just red oak flooring from the store. I'd be curious to see what you'd save, especially considering finish, molding in tongues and grooves if you plan on that, etc.
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post #7 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 09:10 AM
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This could be a great project.

I'd be cautious with pallet wood. Quite often it's pin oak. Those little knots can wreck havoc on a planer when they come loose.
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post #8 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 09:18 AM
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Dang, that reclaimed barn wood is expensive. I have an old barn that I have been pulling pieces off. It is oak and looks great. Might have to sell some of it to fund some projects
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post #9 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 12:29 PM
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Great idea, but, there is a horrendous amount of time involved. Just for an experiment go get a pallet, tear it down and make a couple pieces of what you want. Write down all the time spent and keep tract of it.

Ever rip a pallet apart? The people that do this commercially have special tools. ONe company sells a bandsaw made for this. I'd be Googleing DIY pallet dis-assembler's.

http://www.smetco.com/bandsawDismantlers.shtml

I would hazard a guess that each sq ft of flooring will get into the 3 hour range. So 2000 sq ft = 6000 hours. Average person working 40 hours a week puts in 2000 a year, so your floor looks like 3 years full time. I could be wrong on the time, do an experiment and find out.

I'm not trying to rain on your parade or say don't do it, but you need to go into it with your eyes wide open. I have started projects that I had to walk away from.

There is a reason those reclaimed floor are so expensive! JIm 0311
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post #10 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 12:58 PM
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That is a nice floor in the link, but man that would be a lot of work, a lot of pallets - and not every one you find is going to have the wood you need. Yould could easily spend an hour to get one usable piece of wood when it comes to dealing with those spiral-shanked nails that hold the pallets together.
If you have the trees to cut down, you could make an inexpensive kiln and get the boards down to usable moisture levels a lot quicker.

Maybe you should grab a small number, say five pallets, and time yourself doing the disassemble, ripping, crosscutting - everything except shaping the sides, see how much you get out of five pallets and how long it took you. Then figure out how much you need for the dream house, how many pallets that would be, and how many hours it would take just to get the rough stock ready for shaping.

And if you do - please post the results here because for someone with a lot of time, small house, no money, and access to pallets it may be an affordable solution.

Insert witty signature line here.
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post #11 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 08:00 PM Thread Starter
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Many, many thanks to the replies!

Well, being I am a teacher, I thought this would be a nice summer project..

I plan on dis-assembling the pallets first. Get all of my wood out of them and that part of the process done for thats going to be a pain and the bulk of the work! Square the ends, then run it through my planer. I want to use old fashion squarehead nails. So hopefully that will elivate the tounge and grove process and fill in the majority of the excisting nail holes (kill two birds with one stone, plus i think the nails will look awsome when done.)

I would imagine I will be using 3/4 advantech subflooring. The planks themselves would mostlikely be 3/8's thick

Heres a pic of the nails i like....

http://houseofantiquehardware.com/St...n-Square-Nails

Me and my buddy disassembled maybe 100 pallets a couple winters ago for kindlin for my wood stove. It's not fun nor easy by any means, but the money ill be saving is all the motivation I need. Plus I just really enjoy making something out of nothing

Once everything is planed, I will pallet and wrap the wood for storage in my shop till we decide to build.

my installation plan is to nail the planks onto the sublooring coming of the corner of one side of the house on a 45 and have it go through out the whole house on that 45. final sand, then probably a tung oil finish.

COST:
-planer. this is one tool I dont own. I really would like to find a nice stationary/industrial one. I see them on CL sometimes. Im also considering a dewalt or portercable from lowes.

-Planer knives (god knows what ill have in them).

-two or three trips 40 miles north to get pallets.

- sand paper, putty and finish when its time.

-220$ for a fifty pound box of nails

Please, please please give me any and all advice/criticism/ideas you can before I decide to do this. If theres something Im missing speak up or forever hold your peace....

Last edited by tonkatoy; 01-29-2012 at 08:10 PM.
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post #12 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 08:02 PM
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Pick up a handheld metal detector also before you start sending would through the planer
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post #13 of 61 Old 01-29-2012, 08:31 PM Thread Starter
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Pick up a handheld metal detector also before you start sending would through the planer
very, very good idea!
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post #14 of 61 Old 01-30-2012, 02:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Upstate
I would also be worried about hitting stray nails/pieces of metal in those pallets with the planer or any other tool. Expect to go through a fair number of planer knives.

How thick is the pallet wood? You might be left with pretty thin flooring? I know the oak flooring in my house is 3/4" thick, but I don't think I've seen many pallets with wood > 1/2"? Then if you plane that down, you're left with 3/8". Maybe it doesn't matter a whole lot? I, personally, have no idea.

Cool project though. In five years, we expect to see pictures.
I reclaimed oak pallets and after planing them into usable material they ended up being 1/2 thick (started out at 3/4).

I agree that 1/2" thick stock wouldn't leave much for T&G.

I used an inexpensive metal detector from Rockler to locate nails for removal.

Planer knives survived without a nick.

Last edited by jharris; 01-30-2012 at 02:34 AM.
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post #15 of 61 Old 01-30-2012, 11:16 AM
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One last word of caution, what are the pallets used for? Most are fine for use, but be careful with some of them that are used for any type of chemical. The dust may be irritating, although if you use a DC with the planer you probably won't have much to worry about. Just use a good mask if you have any worries about that.
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post #16 of 61 Old 01-31-2012, 08:55 AM Thread Starter
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After giving this project ALOT of thought, Im considering turning my cheek and walking away from it.

the reason is simple. if I somehow managed to get 3 square feet of out of a pallet (and by the time i tear up the wood disassembling the wood, it'll probably be more like 2 square ft) I would have to disassemble 670 pallets to get 2000 square ft!

disassembling pallets is a b****! to say the least! and Like someone else mentioned, Id probably tear up as much as I reclaimed.
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post #17 of 61 Old 01-31-2012, 10:02 AM
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Thanks for reporting back. I often wonder what happens to people on the net that ask questions and then disappear?

I think if I had a couple years to get ready, I would be making some really classy wood work, but thats me. Maybe even the cabinets?
JIm 0311
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post #18 of 61 Old 01-31-2012, 10:34 AM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jjrbus View Post
Thanks for reporting back. I often wonder what happens to people on the net that ask questions and then disappear?

I think if I had a couple years to get ready, I would be making some really classy wood work, but thats me. Maybe even the cabinets?
JIm 0311
I love this site! Whish I had joined years ago. Unless im kicked out of here I wont be going anywhere anytime soon lol...

So you would consider doing it?
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post #19 of 61 Old 01-31-2012, 09:23 PM
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I would consider it. I do not see much really nice woodwork, except in high end (expensive) houses.
So if I had a couple years before construction , for minimal effort and cost i could come up with some great woodwork or cabinets, maybe even both?
Just daydreaming, no more new homes for me! JIm 0311
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post #20 of 61 Old 02-02-2012, 05:41 AM
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I think you should try it on a small scale before you make any real plans. Pallets are traditionally made of the worst of the worst wood and not all of them are properly seasoned. A lot of them are made with barbed nails which are hard to demo and clean up. It might be easier and cheaper in the long run to purchase a low grade oak lumber to make the flooring.
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