Three Ways to Dismantle Pallets to Obtain Free Wood for Carpentry, Woodworking and Crafts.




About: I am an escapee from modern life, now living by the sea in a forest garden in France. After over 20 years industrial experience, I quit my managerial position to study for a degree in Engineering. That done ...

Showing the tools and steps needed for the safe dismantling of discarded wooden pallets to obtain useable wood. The film also shows some of the items made by me using this recuperated material.
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Un court-métrage montrant les outils et les étapes du démontage de palettes afin d'obtenir du bois bois de construction. Le film montre aussi quelques-uns des articles que j'ai conçu et construit en utilisant ce superbe matériel de récupération.

I have a few rules, which I adhere to in my selection and collection of pallets:-

Firstly, and most importantly, I only ever take pallets which are of untreated wood -- any signs of discolouration due to paint or chemical treatment render them unsuitable. Please check my blog for details of pallet codes.

Secondly, I always ask if I may have the pallets -- this obviously is when the pallet is on the premises of an enterprise or site.

Thirdly, if you do take pallets from a site -- leave the area better than you found it, apart from being courteous, you may want to come back for more and to leave the impression that recyclers should be welcomed. More often than not, after your first couple of visits, the proprietor or foreman will suggest taking the pallets without needing to ask. In my experience, from then on they will often start saving and putting out pallets specifically for you.

Fourthly, safety - wear thick gloves, as pallet wood is sawn and splinters are a pain. Many pallets are discarded because they are broken (by mishandling with forktruck forks or rough handling) this may expose nail points and sharp pieces of broken timber to unprotected pinkies. Also watch out for mis-nailed pieces, where the staples or nails have not been driven straight into the wood and the points stick out from the pallet sides.

Fifthly, transport -- it goes without saying that to bring your booty home ensure that your pallets are properly loaded into or onto your car or trailer and that the properly secured load can not affect you or other road users.

Remember, you are often doing these businesses a favour in taking away rubbish from their forecourt or carparks. Many realise this is so and welcome your visit. With the recuperated windows and doors used in our house and in the construction of the large Greenhouse, the source was a joinery firm -- now specialising in replacement double glazing. The Enlightened Proprietor welcomed us with opened arms, as people willing to give a second life to perfectly sound single and double glazed units, which would otherwise have been burned!

Good Hunting!

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    16 Discussions


    4 years ago on Introduction

    I like that you gave options for breaking down the pallets, and congratulations on a great look. Looking forward to seeing the color applied in the next video!


    5 years ago on Introduction

    This video is great! It is very easy to understand, and I can see that you put a lot of time into it. Way to go!


    7 years ago on Introduction

    I, generally, use a set of wedges made from about 18 inch long 4by4s. Another useful tool is a pair of visegrips, handy when the nail head has stripped off.

    2 replies

    More good tips and thanks for sharing. Are you using the wedges as "folded" wedges so as to prize the planks apart? Thanks and all the best, Andy

    Not sure what you mean by "folded wedges". I just put the thin edges together so one rides up on the other. Then whack the thick ends at the same time with a pair of hammers. Sort of a wedge jack.

    I lived next to a trucking company and pried apart zillions of pallets with a 5 foot
    2x4. Also note that a high percentage of pallets are made from good hardwoods
    (usually oak, but I've seen just about everything including bamboo). Nice instructable and "way to keep it green"!

    1 reply

    Thanks for the comments, much appreciated and sorry for the late reply! Bamboo pallets I have never seen here in France but would love to get some - would make great furniture!! Have you got any images of them? Lucky you to be so near to a good pallet source. All the very best Andy


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Great video and LOVE that music! One tool I've found to be invaluable when dismantling a pallet is a pair of long handled nippers. I bought 16" Heavy Duty End Nipper at Harbor Freight for around $14.00 and solved my nail pulling problems. I hardly fool with a claw hammer or crow bar anymore!

    I do still use a pry bar to gently lift the wood slat up then knock it back down to expose the raised nail heads for Mr. Nipper to grab 'em and pull 'em right out. The leverage the 14" handle provides makes it soooo easy.

    The only issue is being careful not to squeeze too tight on the nipper or it will cut right though the nail. Might make a good instructable, eh? I've never done one so this might be a good time to start! Nice Vid though. Good production.

    1 reply

    Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for your great comment and so sorry it took me all this time to get back to you, my email mail box is not the most user friendly! Great ideas on the nipper - did you get a chance to make the film? Every tip counts in helping to preserve this source of carpentry wood. All the very best from France, Andy


    7 years ago on Introduction

    Andy, I don't understand spoken English, and there are a lot of people like me, that can understand English when reading it, but not when hearing it. I can assure you that we are hundreds of millions! Around all the world.

    I can read also a little French, Portuguese and Italian. Those that I don't understand, Google Translator helps me.

    You had done the good work.

    1 reply

    Thanks very much for your comment. Your feedback is much appreciated, particularly as we are trying to work out the best way of imparting information to the maximum amount of people. I hope that the way we photograph our work makes the project easier to understand because we try to take a photo every step of the way. Even so I realise that at some point explanations are necessary and I have toyed with the idea of making three versions of my big project films in English, Spanish and French, for Spanish, although my wife speaks a little, I would have to use Google translate but by retranslating back to English I think we could make something that is good enough. However, as you say so many people understand written English maybe what I'm doing at the moment is OK? We are just working on a big project at the moment, a recycled, pallet wood hen house, which I hope will be accessible to people wanting to start up with Chickens and worried about the cost of housing them. My greenhouse video is my biggest viewed project on YouTube I now have nearly 90,000 views and in over 150 different countries - this is really great - I keep thinking of all these greenhouses being built out of recycled pallets!
    Best Wishes and thanks again for the feedback,
    Organikmechanic aka Andy

    Thanks very much for your comment, much appreciated. I do all my videos with captions, that way I hope people can copy them down and translate into their own language.
    Best Wishes from France,
    Organikmechanic aka Andy