Below you will find a detailed guide on how to disassemble a pallet, quickly and efficiently, and salvage all of the timber as well as nails!
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Step 1: Where to Get Free Pallets?
The number of things you can make with pallets is endless. The question is, however – where can you find free pallets?
In the UK at least, there are several options. You can try your local supermarket or food market (just ask a member of staff to keep it on the side for you), Gumtree or construction sites. I personally was rather lucky with my local storage unit. They keep all the good pallets for me and I occasionally drop them a couple of beers to say thank you. Everybody wins! Storage units are great for this purpose as they quite often serve as a base for companies importing goods from abroad - and these companies use the good quality EPAL (EUR) pallets.
Step 2: Why and What Pallets to Use?
Firstly and most importantly to most of us - it`s free! I personally think like I am doing my wee bit for our planet by recycling and upcycling, rather than buying new timber. Also, it's quite simply good timber for lots of different projects!
If you can, stick to the EPAL or EUR pallets. Firstly these are safe to use (not treated with methyl bromide) and most importantly by regulations, they have to be made out of premium timber - Pine or Poplar. The planks you can salvage are just over 2cm thick, 120cm long and 14.5cm or 10cm wide - perfect for tons of different projects!
Step 3: What Will You Need?
Step 4: HOW TO DISASSEMBLE a PALLET - STEP 1
Starting from the outside, place your pallet upsidedown on the floor. Put the wrecking bar underneath the square connectors and force it in using the hammer - say 0.5cm in. Lift it gently, and insert the bar further in, so the end of it is right in the middle of the square block. You want to make sure that the end of the bar is in the middle as otherwise, you will bend the nails making the next step much harder. Once you lifted the outside block move to the middle one and repeat the process.
Step 5: HOW TO DISASSEMBLE a PALLET - STEP 2
Now that you removed the bottom part of the pallet its time to get rid of the square blocks.
Place your planks on the floor upsidedown. Using the wrecking bar, lift one side of the block, then move it to the middle and lift off the block completely.
These connecting blocks are actually quite useful. You could use them as fuel for your fireplace but they also make for a good insulation. I placed them in between the walls in my shed. That not only made the shed warmer but also reduced the amount of noise coming out.
Step 6: HOW TO DISASSEMBLE a PALLET - STEP 3
Place 5 square block on your workbench in the way shown in picture one. Now put one of the planks on the blocks, making sure it`s supported in at least 3 places. Using pliers, straighten all the nails so they are at 90 degrees to the plank. Take your hammer and tap each nail until it comes out on the other side. Flip your plank upside down and using the wrecking bar pull out all the nails.
Step 7: HOW TO DISASSEMBLE a PALLET - STEP 4
Place the top of the pallet on the blocks and repeat the process from step 3. You will find that there are extra short nails connecting the 2 planks together. Using the wrecking bar as a leaver lift off the planks from the base. Start from the outside plank and use the one right next to it as a support for your wrecking bar. Repeat the process for all the planks.
In the end, you should end up with 11 perfectly usable planks and around 70 nails.