Never underestimate wood pallets. Don’t, for one second, think that they’re useless because they’re not. It’s really just a matter of choosing and dismantling the wood pallet. Wood pallets are everywhere. They’re usually dumped in just one place. Most of the time, they’re free. That’s a good thing about them.
1. Choose The Right Wood Pallets
Even if wood pallets are free, you would still have to choose wisely. Some of them aren’t really safe to reuse. For example, the wood pallets you usually see in the grocery store might contain bacteria because of food spillage. You might want to avoid them to be on the safe side. (1)
Stay away from wood pallets that smell bad. If they’ve been rained on for months, then they’re not worth reusing as well. (2) The point is, you really have to choose the right wood pallet. As much as they’re free, you would still have to spend some time choosing the perfect wood pallet for your project.
2. Prepare To Dismantle The Wood Pallet
Once you find the right wood pallet, the next thing to do is to dismantle it. That could be quite challenging. According to the video (shown at the end of this article), the wood pallet could end up useless if they’re not dismantled with care.
“If you ever tried to pull apart a pallet … you’ll know that it’s not that easy, especially if you try to preserve the timber and you don’t want it to split. Just bashing away and levering it, especially on the ends would just cause the boards to split.”
The video shows a practical way of dismantling a wood pallet so that you could have more usable timber.
“Now, I’m guessing that most us don’t have an actual designated pallet pryer sitting in the garage. So depending on what tools you have available, I’m going to show you a couple of techniques on how to remove these boards easily and finish up with a lot more usable timber.”
3. Place The Wood Pallet On A Table
It’s easier to work on a wood pallet if it’s placed on table. That way, you won’t hurt your back.
“The first thing you need to know, when I’m pulling apart an old pallet, is that I like to work at waist height. That way, I’m not bending over and straining the old back. And to achieve that, you ought to put the pallets on a couple of saw horses, or in this case, I’ve got the old outside table.”
Once the wood pallet is on a table, prepare your reciprocating saw and an old chisel. The reciprocating saw is a multi-purpose blade that can be used for both metal and timber. This makes it a perfect tool for cutting the nails on the wood pallet.
Before cutting the nails in half with your reciprocating saw, get hold of the old chisel first. With a couple of hits on your old chisel, create a gap between the slat and the stretcher. Once that’s done, proceed to cutting the nails using the reciprocating saw.
“And what you do with this is that you put it between the slat and the stretcher and it will cut all those nails off releasing the board. And the reason why I really it is that all that you can salvage the entire length of the board and you can also retain those beautiful rustic nail holes, which I love so much.”
The video states that the process just takes about a minute to get it done.
“How easy was that? That took me about one minute to do both sides. With those top nails cut and those slats free, do the same thing to those bottom slats.”
All it really takes to cut off those nails is a reciprocating saw. It’s a very fast process but since it requires the use of a power tool, it’s important to don some eye protection, earmuffs, and gloves. The good thing about using a reciprocating saw is that it does not damage the wood.
4. The Final Step
Now that the stretcher on both sides are gone, the final step is to tackle the stretcher in the middle. You could use your reciprocating saw again to cut off the nails. However, you might want to have a piece of timber that’s nail-free. If that’s the case, you can use a jemmy bar to pry off the nails.
“ … Grab yourself a jimmy bar or flat bar and drive it between the slat and the stretcher with a couple of good hits. And then, just pry that up and there’s your board. Totally intact and the stretcher in the middle hasn’t got any nails in it. Now to remove those nails, just tap the nail with your hammer and to remove the ones that you’ve cut off, just get yourself a nail punch and punch those out and then pull the heads.”
These are very easy ways to carefully dismantle a wood pallet. You will definitely have more usable timber to work with.