Planter From Pallets, No Nail Pull Method

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Introduction: Planter From Pallets, No Nail Pull Method

A while back I had decided to build some vegetable planters out of old pallets. I mean, hey, free wood, right? I had originally decided to deconstruct the pallet by yanking out all the nails and reusing the lumber. However, to my annoyance, I discovered the nails were darn near impossible to pull. Every single time you ended up cracking the board you were trying to remove, reducing it to useless splinters.

After a few cracked boards I paused to curse and kick at the pallet, and then sat down and decided to puzzle out a different way of doing it without having to pull out each nail. And here is how it is done:

Step 1: Cut Slats Off the Support Board

First just cut the slats off with a jigsaw. Just cut them off from each side of the support beam. You'll end up with a nice pile of slats.

Step 2:

Once the pallet is all cut up, you end up with a couple of support beams with pices of wood still nailed to it.

Step 3: Trim the Nails

Now, you can pull those nails off, or do it the easy way and run it over the table saw. The blade easily cuts through the nails, and you can trim off any uneveness of the wood while you are at it. Be sure to wear eye protection.

Step 4: Cleaned Boards

In short time you have a pile of nice clean boards.

You need all the support pieces from both pallets. Six in this case. No pallet ever seems to be made the same, so if your pieces are not the same length, trim them down to match. In my case I had a pallet about half a foot longer than the other one.

Step 5: Measure and Trim Boards

Boards all trimmed to live up evenly.

Step 6: Cut End Pieces

You want four long ones and four short ones, or half the size of the long ones. Actual length will vary with pallet, so just scale the smaller pieces down by a half.

Step 7: Add End Slats

Find two slats of roughly the same size, and nail or screw them down on either end of the support wood. You do this first so you do not have a box that is two feet high on one end and then goes up crookedly a half a foot in the other.

Step 8: Add All Slats

Just go right down the line and add the slats to the support wood. I personally used screws along with a squirt of wood glue. The wood glue helps because these cheap pallet boards love to crack, so if it does crack the glue will help old it in places.

Step 9: Add Slats to End Pieces

Fill the slats on both the side and end pieces.

Step 10:

Now just assemble the four peaces together. I just used long screws and some wood glue.

Ta-Da, a sturdy planter.

I do not have a bottom on mine, because I am filling it up with good dirt and letting the roots of the plants just work their way down. You can put a bottom on it easily enough, however.

This way is a lot easier than trying to get those impossible nails out of the pallets.

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44 Comments

Hey guys I don't think anybody has mentioned about how the pallets are treated at the factory. The pallets that have the HT or heat-treated are the best to use for growing food. All the others are chemically treated which could be hazardous when you growing vegetables for consumption because the chemicals leach into the soil. Great plans though I am going to try it the last one I made was much more difficult

nice idea! When I pried out my nails from the pallet, I pry the board up a bit, then hammered it down. This leaves you enough room to get the hammer under the nail head.

Thanks for the tutorial! I did the same but used mine for some topsy turvy gardening check it out here:
http://mandamakesblog.wordpress.com/2012/05/16/topsy-turvy-garden-week-3/

I think it is going to work out nicely!

I thought I'd been told to watch out for nails when using saws like a table saw...guess I was right after reading everyone else's comments

Thank you so much for posting this! The Michigan Urban Farming Initiative will be using this design to build 500 raised bed community gardens in Detroit, MI. This guide will save us thousands, if not tens of thousands, of dollars. To monitor our progress check out our projects page. We will post pictures of the process. http://www.miufi.com/#!projects

Please make sure the pallets are not treated! You don't want this stuff to leach into your food supply.

Good friend of mine lost three fingers to a table saw kickback. It's a scary machine.

if you need pallets go to any air conditioning installer they will have piles! if you also are lucky enough to be anywhere there are restaurant food supply companies they usually have the mini half size pallets, even better

Ah lads,

There is a tool available(or make your own) for pulling the boards apart, they can then have the nails tapped a bit and pulled out with a conventional crowbar. The tool looks like a two pronged fork with about a 4 foot handle. The tines of the fork are bent so the 2x4s can be straddled perpendicular to the slats and the slats lifted  by prying down on the handle. Maybe northern tool (dot com) has them if you want to look. I love re-purpose-ing stuff!

https://www.instructables.com/id/Pallet-reclamation-bar/