How to Efficiently Disassemble a Pallet in Three Easy Steps

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Introduction: How to Efficiently Disassemble a Pallet in Three Easy Steps

This is My first Instructable, I intend to upload more pellet projects in the future. If you Like It Please UpVote It for the contest!

I get dozens of pallets from my job and use them for projects from shelves, toy guns, playground equipment, and in the near future, a shed or hen house. This Is the method I use to disassemble mine,

BUT, Before we begin, I am in no way responsible for any injury or damage you may inflict upon yourselves, others, or property. Follow at your own risk, that being said if you follow correctly you should have no problems.

Make sure to watch the video

This will be in three steps

1 Cut

2 Pull

3 Remove Nails

Supplies

For tools you will only need :

1 A Hammer (preferably with good claw, My 16oz Kobalt hammer from Lowes works best for me)

2 A Saw (A power circular saw is Better then a handsaw, and if you're planning on woodworking you should have one anyway)

A Couple Tips

1 Wet Wood. The planks are less likely to split when pulling nails if the wood is a bit damp.

2 Cut the Planks as Close to the nails as possible (without hitting them) to ensure less waste and longer plank length.

EDIT: I have had a couple suggestions in the comments which i will list here.

1 You could use a sawzall (reciprocating saw) or jigsaw instead of the circular saw.

2 Use a block under the hammer for extra leverage

3 Use a pry-bar or wrecking bar in addition to the hammer

4 using a pallet breaker bar, I am not particularly in favor of this as it is inclined to split and mangle the planks, still, it is faster if you don't mind rougher work.

Step 1: Cut Edges

Cut along the edges close to nails (but not too close, or you'll dull your blade!) You are technically wasting an inch or two of plank, but it is defiantly worth it, I cant tell how many planks I've split trying to pry/pull the nails out of the ends.

Step 2: Wiggle,Pull, and Pry

Wiggle the planks to loosen them, Take your hammer and slip the claw between the plank and 2x4 frame and pry slowly but firmly, This is where the damp wood is helpful, the dampness of the wood makes it more spongy, and less likely to split. To prevent some nasty nail punctures in your feet its a good idea to knock the nails back through the planks.

Step 3: Pulling the Nails

First knock out all the still attached plank ends from the 2x4 frame boards.

Once all the wood chunks are removed you can pull the nails, If you want to reuse the nails its best to pull them straight out, If you don't care, or the heads break off you can twist them over and off sideways.

The nails in the planks should come straight out without any trouble.

Step 4: All Done! Cleanup Time!

That's it! You will now have a nice stack of small lumber The planks should be over 3 feet, and if you're careful, you'll have plenty of reusable nails for your next project!

I will hopefully be uploading some projects in the near future.

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    31 Comments

    0
    sock8bunny222
    sock8bunny222

    1 year ago

    Although I thought this was a good video and had good information, you may want to consider speeding up the mundane parts that you have already explained. Just a thought. I did, however, vote for your project.

    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks for the feedback, and the vote! perhaps I did draw out the video a bit, Will consider it for future tutorial.

    0
    Ronin60
    Ronin60

    Tip 1 year ago on Step 2

    Hi I love these forms of instructables; I have made so many things out of pallet wood; there’s a tool I have found especially useful its a pry bar I use a hammer to get the pry bar between the pieces of wood I think the angles of the pry sections are better suited to separating the wood and with a little practice and care you will not only have very few splits but you’ll get to use all your wood; and on the health and safety side it means you use the circular saw less; I hope this helps.
    Ps I have added an image of the pry bar I use they cost around £5-£8 UK so well worth the money.
    PPs Great instructable Liam

    F66CFFBD-24AC-46B2-901B-5DB6E52CCF5E.jpeg
    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    Glad you liked it, You are right, pry bars are awesome if you have them (I own several) and will speed up some aspects of the project, but not all will have them, Also, I did this at work after hours and didn't have all my tools available.

    1
    obillo
    obillo

    1 year ago on Step 4

    This is pretty good, but too long, as so many steps are unnecessarily repeated. Those who wish to try this may want to note the following: 1,a jigsaw or sawzall (recip saw) is much more efficient and easier to use than a circular saw--use either if you have or can borrow one. 2, it'll be easiest if you have 2 hammers--a rip-claw >for pulling the boards off and a curved claw for extracting nails.As you can see in the video, the rip-claw doesn't give sufficient leverage in the extraction phase (shoving a small block under the rip-claw will suffice, but will be only a minor convenience. Keep in mind, the avg 16-slat pallet has 96 nails. A "spring bar" aka "wonder bar" would be your boon companion here; so would a small crowbar. After all, you're not going to stop at just one pallet, are you?

    1
    lorenkinzel
    lorenkinzel

    Reply 1 year ago

    For this project a jigsaw or sawzall would be advisable for those who are not competent with a circular saw. But the rest of us will use the right tool for the job (circular) that is way faster & easier.
    Jigsaws are for cutting curves. A sawzall is for when nothing else will work. A circular saw is for straight, fast cuts.
    If you can't do this standing up with a circular saw you probably should stick to the slower tools so you don't hurt yourself.

    1
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    Fair enough, Yes, I used the wrong hammer, and I usually do use two. I did this last minute and had to use what's on hand (actually at my work after hours with borrowed tools) , but honestly, it doesent take vary long, what takes long is the constant starting and stopping and moving of the camera. Remember, lots of people "doing pallets " are not going to have a wide selection of tools, I consider a circsaw and a hammer basic needs for carpentry of the rougher sort, I have multiple recipe saw's at my disposel, but I don't like what it does to the planks, also you go through more blades, which will run into $$. This tutorial tools setup could cost as little as $20-$25 (depending on if you get a blade with the saw).

    0
    obillo
    obillo

    Reply 1 year ago

    True, but recip saw lets you work standing up, is way less noisy, and it's easier to see what you're doing and where the saw's going. But if budget is paramount, I'd take the circ. But I still say a prybar is a worthy investment. In fact, since Home Depot has 'em starting at $3.26, it's hardly an investment, and it'll last forever.

    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    I absolutely agree on value for money on tools, I am a part time handyman and was a contractor assistant for some years and have used and own a range of power and hand tools, the thing is about the pallet movement is simplicity, two tools are all thats necessary, in fact only one (if you have the time) I chose the circular saw, because, in my experience, it serves me best, if anyone prefers quick and dirty, they can use a pellet breaker bar, or a sawzall, or anything they like, I even saw a guy using a tire iron once.

    1
    BigAndRed
    BigAndRed

    Question 1 year ago

    Have you ever heard of a pallet breaker bar, well worth it if you are breaking up lots of pallets.

    0
    BakerBoy7
    BakerBoy7

    Answer 1 year ago

    Great idea, I've learnt something new. I will get one of these for my deck demolition

    2
    j1shalack
    j1shalack

    Answer 1 year ago

    A piece of PVC on the hammer handle would improve leverage...

    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    Good tip!

    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Answer 1 year ago

    Yes, I have, the only issue I can see is them (from the videos I've seen), is that they do exactly what they say, they break pallets, or at least split the planks. I am here interested in separating the planks intact for use on pretty much any project, not just rough ones. Thanks for the suggestion though.

    0
    DavidJ11
    DavidJ11

    1 year ago

    Well produced video, and the music was pleasant.

    To improve the handling of the hammer when pulling the nails that are well out of the wood, put a piece of wood under the hammer close to the nail, to greatly improve the leverage / pulling force. And when bashing off the small bits of wood from the main woods towards the end of the video, use a chisel to split them (cold-chisel or wood chisel) to make it easier, safer, and less damaging to the rails.

    Keep up the good work - oh, and move that shiny tractor out of the shop so it doesn't get saw dust all over it. :0)

    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    Thanks, glad you liked the video . Yes, my hammer was less than ideal, I usually use one with more claw to it, bashing out all the bits of plank is the fastest way, It actually doesn't cause much damage to the 2×4's, or nails, but as yes, spend more time and be more careful, and you'll get a nicer product. As to the tractor, meh, It's constantly getting used and cleaned, a little temporary dust won't hurt it ;-).

    0
    fiddlekrazy
    fiddlekrazy

    Tip 1 year ago on Introduction

    I have used a center punch to mark the nails and then drill the heads off of the nails. Prying the boards up becomes easy. More time consuming but this way I am able to salvage the entire boards.

    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    I never heard of that method before, thanks for sharing. For me, I usually end up having to trim my boards for my project's anyway, so the 2 inches don't usually end up mattering to me.

    0
    MarkD443
    MarkD443

    1 year ago

    I find it easier just to use my Recip saw with a long metal cut blade to drop all the planks off of the pallet legs. I build flags & sell them for $25, I get my pallets from an AC business up the road. All my pallets are stapled not nailed.

    8-30-19 TRIO.jpg
    0
    Liam McM
    Liam McM

    Reply 1 year ago

    If a recipsaw works best for you, that's awesome, nice decorations, you could probobly get mor than 25$ for that sort of thing (at least where I live).