How to Dismantle a Pallet

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Introduction: How to Dismantle a Pallet

It was Gerrit Reitvild who first deconstructed a transport crate to reassemble it into furniture that was both affordable and could be easily constructed from the individual pieces. In that sprit this booklet is made to reveal a method to dismantle this wooden beast of burden, the pallet.

Like a donkey it has to be broken-in and for the task you will need

a lump mallet,
a claw hammer,
and a prybar.

You will also need a scrap piece of wood, MDF or ply to use as a cushion to avoided damaging the wood when knocking pieces apart.

Bare in mind that pallets come in various sizes, shapes and conditions, so you may find this manual to be more of a rough guideline then accurate instructions when applying them to your pallet.

Step 1: Steps

1) Begin by turning the pallet upside down and knocking the chocks (wooden supporting blocks) out.

2) The technique here is to distribute your blows with the lump mallet between the three blocks (a, b and c) and gradually knock the sections apart.

3) Once you have done this to all three supporting sections place these pieces underneath the main body of the pallet.

Step 2: Steps

4) Using the claw hammer knock the revealed nails through their holes. Try to get all nails out of the wood otherwise you risk damaging your tools when using the pieces for your next project.

Knocking nails out of wood is a skill. A skill albeit that you most likely will never write on your CV but one that nonetheless require you to be patient and accurate.

If nails bend use the lump mallet like an anvil and knock them against back it into shape with the claw hammer.

If a nail becomes to malleable cut it in half using pliers or a hacksaw and try knocking it out again.

Step 3: Steps

5) Once those nails are out use the prybar to remove as many strips of wood as you can. Depending on the number of strips the pallet has you may decide to remove all even number pieces using the odd strips as leverage, or Vice Versa.

If this is proving difficult you may find it easier to turn the pallet upside down, again resting it on the chocks and hitting along each strip, distributing your blows (a, b, c and d) to loosen them.

Step 4: Steps

6) To get the remaining chocks of their strip of wood, while standing the piece vertically use the lump mallet to knock pieces e and f off. Turn the piece around and repeat to chock g.

Be careful when knocking the chokes of their strips to avoid squashing your fingers. Also take care to avoid kneeling or standing on the nails as they are ribbed and not for your pleasure. They also have shards of metal attached to them from however they were arranged in a nail gun. Try not to run your fingers along them otherwise you will receive metal splinters along with wooden ones if you decide not to wear work gloves.

Step 5: Video

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36 Comments

Brilliant, you make it look so easy. I tried before & seemed to break every other pallet strip trying to pry them from the blocks. Start with the lump hammer next time!

So glad i found your site gonna try this one cheers ..<><><>

Oh, how I wish I could "appropriate" such NEW-Looking Pallets! In FL, They seem to be quite used, and the nails are Rusted - INSIDE the wood - Hot summer + High Humidity + as little as 2-weeks outdoors... But I shall go forth, and use the technique as persevere and use this technique.... and I shall TRIUMPH! I must become "Choosier" and pick better (and newer) pallets.

I SHALL become... A PALLETEER! Thanks so much!

that is what I needed I was having so much trouble but not now thanks so much this is the best way to take a pallet apart no doubt.

Thanks for the helpful video and Thanks to those who added helpful comments. I've been trying to figure out how I can make a fence to keep our dogs in the yard without the funds for the wood. Some sweat equity, free pallets and your help has made this a possibility!

I like the ease of disassembly you show.. now I am going out to try it.

I had some trouble trying to figure out what a "Lump Mallet" was when reading this... then watched the video. Duh. It's a Sledge-Hammer, in the USA. Thanks for the video!

I love the whole presentation, but I especially like the video. It's great. In the comments someone mentioned using a car jack. That's a good idea if you have one that fits, but mine doesn't.

In the hardware stores where I am they sell bar clamps that are adaptable and can be used as spreaders. I was thinking of using a heftier bar clamp as a spreader for the initial step, although I might not have as much control over what comes away from what.

Chemicals in reclaimed pallets is a real issue.
Generally speaking pallets are labeled by country of origin and if you see "HT" it means they are heat treated and may be a bit safer.
The country of origin is critical > if its not local to you then very likely it has been treated with some type of pesticide after its been packaged. So avoid imports.
Just sayin'
MJR

Nice! After taking hundreds of them apart I find the really tuff ones with the nice wood that you don’t want to spoil comes off easily and with little or no damage by using a car jack. Apply the pressure via the jack close to the block. Here is a picture of what the jack looks like, mine has been modified though to fit better.


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