How to Dismantle a Pallet - Woodworking Talk - Woodworkers Forum
 
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post #1 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 02:52 PM Thread Starter
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How to Dismantle a Pallet

I picked up a couple of pallets recently for my next project.
Here are a few pictures of the way I took them apart.

You know the old saying "There's no such thing as a free lunch". In this case, this applies to "free lumber".

The options are:
  1. Use a reciprocating saw to cut the nails underneath the slats to free them. Unfortunately, this leaves nails in the runners rendering them useless.
  2. Use a reciprocating saw to cross cut the slats from the runners leaving the nails exposed so they can be pulled. The disadvantage of this method is the slats will be shorter, but the runners may be salvaged if the nails are pulled.
  3. Use a pry bar or whatever means available to pry the slats off of the runners. The disadvantage of this method is the slats are sure to split on the end because the nails won't pull out.

I have included a picture of the tools I used. A hammer, flat pry bar, a big pair of pliers, and a screwdriver. Not shown is the reciprocating saw and a metal detector. The pliers and metal detector came from Harbor Freight. I bought them last year for the sole purpose of pulling nails. With the pliers, I can get a good grip on the nail (with or without the head) and the shape of the pliers will help remove the nail. Sometimes I slip a piece of scrap wood under the pliers to give me a better mechanical advantage when I pry the nail out. Note that it is not uncommon for the nail head to break off when using a regular pry bar. Thus, the pliers with the big grip!

Note: Always use a metal detector if you plan to plane the boards. I found several nail heads embedded in the wood. I used a punch to drive the heads out from the back side of the board. I also made a close inspection of all four sides of each board. I discovered several slivers of metal during the final inspection. UGH!

With these two pallets, I managed to salvage the boards from one of them and remove the nails from the runners. I guess I was just lucky.

Not so on the bigger pallet. The boards split way too easily, so I cross cut them along each runner, then removed the nails. That yielded a stack of short boards and three 6 foot long pieces of what appears to be oak of some kind. Definitely hardwood.

Removing the nails from the runners turned out to be fairly easy, but hard at the same time. I set up one of my hand screw clamps and clamped a runner in it. Then it was just a matter of pulling and tugging to get the nails out. The hand screw clamp was much better than any helper would have been. And the best part is I was working at waist level and not down on the floor!

There are a lot of videos on You Tube uploaded by folks that demonstrate different ways of dismantling pallets. Check them out if you are interested in pallet re-purposing. Note that some of the videos are pretty good and others and simply terrible.

I think Izzy may be on to something.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzolBN3AmlM

Maybe someday I will find a pallet or two made using more substantial material.

In the pictures, you will see two boards that were the skids on one pallet, They didn't make the cut. No way am I going to run those through the planer. Everything else will get used.

That's my story and I'm stickin' to it.
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post #2 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 04:14 PM
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Many years ago when I was a young lad, my job was to "break down" shipping pallets. We used a tool called a "nail puller", plus all those tools you've shown, and then some. Also had to deal with some pallets being coated in solvent, wood preserver, and paint. Tough time consuming job. Is all the effort/time worth saving the material? Be safe.
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post #3 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 05:00 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by woodchux View Post
Many years ago when I was a young lad, my job was to "break down" shipping pallets. We used a tool called a "nail puller", plus all those tools you've shown, and then some. Also had to deal with some pallets being coated in solvent, wood preserver, and paint. Tough time consuming job. Is all the effort/time worth saving the material? Be safe.
These pallets were clean. They were leaning against the dumpster behind the 99 cent store.

Here is a sneek peek at the two pallets I dismantled.
Mike
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post #4 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 05:39 PM
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Nice write up for new folks looking to re-purpose.


I get enough of that type of material from work and no need to take anything apart, so the only use I have for all of the pallets I have is burning.

It's commendable though going through all of the trouble to reuse the materials.
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post #5 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 06:19 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Chamfer View Post
Nice write up for new folks looking to re-purpose.


I get enough of that type of material from work and no need to take anything apart, so the only use I have for all of the pallets I have is burning.

It's commendable though going through all of the trouble to reuse the materials.
Yeah, the easy way out would be to buy the boards at the big box store and start building.

But, NOOO! I want to see what I can build from the lumber I can salvage.
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post #6 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 07:58 PM
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Izzy actual has that tool manufactured now out of metal (I am assuming metal, maybe aluminum) . I think it is called the "eizzy" bar ... Just Google it.
I have a "deck wrecker" and it works great and fast.
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post #7 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 08:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by davester84 View Post
Izzy actual has that tool manufactured now out of metal (I am assuming metal, maybe aluminum) . I think it is called the "eizzy" bar ... Just Google it.
I have a "deck wrecker" and it works great and fast.
Thanks Dave. I have a home made tool but prying simply breaks the boards. No doubt it is the poor quality of the pallets I have found so far. For thicker boards, it should work just fine.

It is similar to the one shown in this video. My fulcrum is larger than his making it easier to do the prying.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1vfvvxNhcY
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post #8 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 08:09 PM
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Here is a video of me using mine..... It was from last years sterling Davis challenge. Mine works great even on skinny boards..... It has to do with the angle or something.
https://youtu.be/RI68vbGgkC0
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post #9 of 9 Old 07-21-2015, 08:30 PM Thread Starter
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Here is a video of me using mine..... It was from last years sterling Davis challenge. Mine works great even on skinny boards..... It has to do with the angle or something.
https://youtu.be/RI68vbGgkC0
I have seen that video. Your project turned out nice. Good job by the painter.
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