Recycle Wood





Introduction: Recycle Wood

Recycling wood is a great way to get free wood, keep useful things out of landfills, and save a few trees. In areas with few resources, other than resourceful people, recycled wood is used for cooking, heating, art, toys, tools, furniture, and construction.

Step 1: Find Some Wood

The first step is to find some wood. Most industrial areas will have stacks of pallets that they are willing to give you, wooden objects often are left on the street on garbage day, dumpster dive, see what washes up on the beach, or scavenge from that project you abandoned.

Step 2: Tools

In a pinch all you need is a hammer and willpower. However, a crowbar is very useful, safety glasses will keep flying nails out of your eyes, and ear protection will soften the pounding sounds. If you want to get really fancy I also recommend a cat's paw and pliers for pulling out especially difficult nails, and a saw to cut around the impossible ones (none of these additional items are pictured because they are usually not necessary).

Step 3: Lift One Side

Place the crowbar between the planks of wood in line with the nails holding it together, and lift. This should pull the nails partway out. I do not recommend trying to pull the nails all the way out with out first loosening the other side, pulling too hard may result in cracked wood.

Step 4: Lift the Other Side.

Move the crowbar to the other side, and pull and loosen it. Switch back and forth until one side is free. If you switch more than three times you are not exerting enough force.

Step 5: Lever Out the Other Side

Once one side is free you can use it to lever out nails on the other side by lifting the whole plank.

Step 6: Pound Out the Nails

Flip the louse board over and pound the sharp end of the nails with the hammer. This will force the nails most of the way out of the wood.

Step 7: Pull the Nails Out

Flip the board back over and use the crowbar to pull the nails the rest of the way out. Caution: the nails may fly when they spring out of the wood.
Repeat steps 3-7 until all of the boards are off.

Step 8: Breakage

You may not have a one hundred percent success rate, but hopefully the wood was free to begin with.

Step 9: Breakage Part 2

The board broke because this nail did not want to come free. Use the crowbar to pull out this stubborn fellow.

Step 10: The Last Board

The last board is usually the hardest to remove. In some cases it may be necessary to pound the crowbar under the board with the hammer.

Step 11: Look at All This Great Wood

Now that you have separated the boards and driven out the nails you have nice pile of wood. If the boards aren't as straight as you might like re-cut the edges with a table saw. If the boards are not as clean or smooth as you might like wash, sand or chisel the surface. Beautiful and unique coloration often emerges from found wood when it is sanded.



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    NOTE: SAVE the nails! They are great for reassembly, and they are FREE!

    I also like old turned table and chair legs. I have some I have saved to make into new tables and chairs. However I have seen and can think of many additional uses. Turned portions might be used for vases, pepper grinders or candle holders. A series of mismatched legs could make a fun railing for a stairway, bed, or playpen. I have also seen turned legs sliced and embedded into flat surfaces such as flooring, furniture and boats. Let me know what you come up with.

    I have a bunch of lathe turned wooden chair legs and lathe turned wooden table legs and I would really like someone to get some use out of them since they are so beautiful and someone took the time to make them in the first place. I would like to pass them on to someone that could repurpose them to make new items. I have looked all over and noone recycles broken wooden chair parts. It's too bad. I hate to throw them away. Any ideas?

    I love to recycle wood but some of the pallets have all sorts of chemicals as preservatives so be careful esp cooking or burning in confined areas


    Hey. Great instructable. Well crafted. I wish I had more scrapyards near me. BooHooHoo.

    agreed! I can only find one scrap yard within 50 miles of Sacramento! where did all the great junk yards go to!

    Sorry for being kinda random, but does anybody know what to do with chemically treated wood? I'm very hesitant about incineration or just chucking it in the trash. Thanks!

    What ever you do, please don't burn it. My father did a lot of backpacking when he was younger. One night he a group of homeless people invited him to warm himself by their fire. They were burning old railroad ties because that was the only wood that they had. The fumes were so bad that it made him sick and he still has nausea whenever he smells treated wood. I would recommend contacting whoever collects your trash as well as the dump it goes to. They may have a specific procedure for dealing with the nasty stuff.

    On construction sites, whenever we remove old railroad ties they have to be shipped to a special haz waste facility for processing. If your concerned about dumping anything that you think should not go into the trash (or cant be re-used) contact your local disposal company and describe what you have. They should be able to help you with proper disposal proceedures.