How to Take Apart a Pallet




About: We're Mother Daughter Projects, sharing our DIY adventures as we learn to maintain, improve, decorate, and use tech in our homes.

Projects involving pallets seem to be everywhere these days. And why not? Pallets are free, have a great rustic look, and can be used in many different ways.

Well, the first time we fished a pallet out of the trash, we realized we had no idea how to take it apart. After some research, we found that a sawzall, or reciprocating saw would do the trick! We bought one and found out it is the perfect tool for this task! We made a video to show you how this process works.

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Step 1: Watch the Video

Step 2: Gather Materials


  • Pallet (these can be found behind businesses, by dumpsters. Craigslist is a great way to find them)
  • DeWalt Sawzall
  • 12" Blade
  • Gloves, eye & ear & feet protection

Step 3: Cut the Pallet

Make sure you read the manufacture's instructions before you get started. Once you have all your safety gear on, hold the tool steady and let it do the work.

The long blade really helps when getting into the middle sections.

Step 4: Clean the Boards

Once you're done, a steel bristle brush works well to clean any dirt off the pallet slats. Pallets are a neat material to work with, but just note, that most pallet wood is not straight and level. There are tools that will help take care of that but they are pricey and kind of defeat the purpose of free wood. When we use pallet wood in a project, we embrace the imperfections!

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    11 Discussions


    If you are going to use a miter saw or a table saw with the wood then you have to get all the nails out, it's easier to use a skil saw and cut the outside braces off, leaving the middle one, and then use a mallet to knock the panels off. Then you don't have nearly as many nails to deal with.


    2 years ago

    This is a far better solution than trying to pry them apart. Do you have any tips on removing the nails once you've done your cutting?

    5 replies

    Reply 2 years ago

    I use a pin punch ( or drift to driver he nail head out backwards and the nail point out forwards


    Reply 2 years ago

    I use another nail. I expect the pin punch is safer, but if I'm pounding in nails anyway...

    Fair enough, I was asking mainly because I know there are a lot of people who go a bit further in finishing the boards, maybe planing them or cutting them down, or sanding them. You would definitely want to remove the nails for that to avoid damaging your tools.


    2 years ago

    Cool, they also make pallet crow bars for taking apart pallets


    2 years ago

    This is great in all but I've learned that if you can it's much faste to just use a crow bar and pry them