thanks everyone, I will try the hacksaw and see how it goes!
I can agree that it is a tough job and sometimes un-rewarding if you get a pallet that just wants to have the boards splinter. I made a tool which I found some plans for on the internet or possibly on instructables. It was the MK-2 wrecking bar or some name to that effect. I can't find much info on it now anywhere. I did however find a video on youtube giving a very good idea of how to make something just like it. Mine works good and quite easily. Do a search for pallet wrecking bar on youtube or on google to see some more examples
thanks everyone, that's a great help! I want to build with them but also have a log burner so there will be no waste lol!
You left out of your question an important bit of information. Do you want to salvage the wood? A lot of the pallets I take apart are for firewood so I don't care about the results as long as it fits in the stove. The fastest and easiest is like rickharris said, with a saw. Use a circular saw with a carbide teeth. You hit a lot of nails and a regular blade will not last long. of course a carbide blade gets pretty banged up but it will go for a will with a few teeth missing. Cut the boards attached to the middle runner on each side then just lift them up and use the board itself as the pry bar. They will either break at the end, have the nails pull through or pull the nails out. If they look like they will be difficult then just cut them at both ends. One thing that is annoying with a circular saw, the boards often bind up the blade because they move and pinch it so be careful of kickback.
DON'T use a chain saw. It often shatters the brittle wood and if you hit a nail it can break off a tooth and stretch out the chain.
As I work through a stack of pallets I always keep an eye out for special ones that I want to salvage for the wood. These are the ones with oak boards that are not warped or cracked. Sometimes they are maple and I have even found some that are mahogany which is also called laun. Those I set aside for my salvage as they are too good to burn.
One annoying thing about burning pallets is all the nails they leave in the ashes.
Hacksaw sliding between the boards and then hammer the heads out from beneath. I had to do this recently and it works well. You could also use some sort of metal-cutting blade.
There are a number of pallet removal instructables here - all require hard work!
the easiest way I have found is to simple run a saw just inside the top and bottom members separating off the slats. they may still be nailed in the middle but you have halved the work effort.
Be prepared for it to be hard work. They use glued "ring-shank" nails, which are not designed to pull back out.
With a crowbar.
Do a search. There are hundreds of related projects here concerning pallets. Try searching Pallet tool.