I’ve been using lots of reclaimed pallet wood for years now. The problem is that I often spend way too much time trying to remove the wood from the pallets.
The problems with other methods is that they are time consuming and often ‘tool consuming’ (i.e. Demo blades for reciprocating saws.) Some are dangerous (but often my favorite!) Some take lots of time and have high rates of splitting the wood in the process, thereby reducing the yield from each pallet.
While my method here does have a small amount of waste, it is often the ends of the boards with the most nail holes, chips, and splits. This is the least desirable wood and I often found I was cutting it off the boards anyway.
So, be safe, quick, and enjoy. Also, don’t forget to vote in the Reclaimed Wood contest as you can’t use the wood you can’t reclaim.
Step 1: What You Need
All you need is a pallet (or pallets), a circular saw, and nail removing device of your choice (claw hammer, cat’s claw, pry bar, crow bar, etc.) And safety goggles!
Step 2: Remove the Side Vertical Supports
The whole trick here it to cut the boards from the ends. Just cut inside the pallets vertical boards on each end. This will leave you with the boards still attached to the center vertical support.
This is where the beauty comes in. Almost always, the center vertical support is nailed in with only 2 nails per board and is easily pried apart without damaging the flat horizontal boards.
Do this to the bottom boards as well, and you end up with the flat horizontal board and two ends. (These make great fire starters for camp fires or fireplaces.)
Step 3: Remove the Nails
This is the most important part (and one that is much quicker if you are using my method to reclaim the wood.)
Since there are only nails possible in the center of the board, (and normally only 2 nails), it's quick and easy to remove them and account for each one.
Normally, if the nail is still straight, just flip the board over, tap the 'pointed end' until the head protrudes from the other side and use a claw hammer to pull it out.
Sometimes, the nails get bent and that method doesn't work. Here is a neat trick to remove them.
Simply grab the base of the nail on the 'pointed side' with a pair of slip joint pliers. Now, keeping a firm grip on the nail, roll the pliers to the side. It will take a little bit of force, but it will actually pull the head through the board safely. See the photos.
Step 4: Sort, Grade, and Enjoy the Wood
Now just go through each board and sort them by their quality, knots, and what-have-yous.
Most importantly, enjoy the fact that you are reclaiming a resource and making something with it!
Don't forget to vote. Even if you think this is dumb, you should always vote so people can know what good and what's not.