I picked up a couple of pallets recently for my next project.
Here are a few pictures of the way I took them apart.
You know the old saying "There's no such thing as a free lunch". In this case, this applies to "free lumber".
The options are:
- Use a reciprocating saw to cut the nails underneath the slats to free them. Unfortunately, this leaves nails in the runners rendering them useless.
- Use a reciprocating saw to cross cut the slats from the runners leaving the nails exposed so they can be pulled. The disadvantage of this method is the slats will be shorter, but the runners may be salvaged if the nails are pulled.
- Use a pry bar or whatever means available to pry the slats off of the runners. The disadvantage of this method is the slats are sure to split on the end because the nails won't pull out.
I have included a picture of the tools I used. A hammer, flat pry bar, a big pair of pliers, and a screwdriver. Not shown is the reciprocating saw and a metal detector. The pliers and metal detector came from Harbor Freight. I bought them last year for the sole purpose of pulling nails. With the pliers, I can get a good grip on the nail (with or without the head) and the shape of the pliers will help remove the nail. Sometimes I slip a piece of scrap wood under the pliers to give me a better mechanical advantage when I pry the nail out. Note that it is not uncommon for the nail head to break off when using a regular pry bar. Thus, the pliers with the big grip!
Note: Always use a metal detector if you plan to plane the boards. I found several nail heads embedded in the wood. I used a punch to drive the heads out from the back side of the board. I also made a close inspection of all four sides of each board. I discovered several slivers of metal during the final inspection. UGH!
With these two pallets, I managed to salvage the boards from one of them and remove the nails from the runners. I guess I was just lucky.
No so on the bigger pallet. The boards split way too easily, so I cross cut them along each runner, then removed the nails. That yielded a stack of short boards and three 6 foot long pieces of what appears to be oak of some kind. Definitely hardwood.
Removing the nails from the runners turned out to be fairly easy, but hard at the same time. I set up one of my hand screw clamps and clamped a runner in it. Then it was just a matter of pulling and tugging to get the nails out. The hand screw clamp was much better than any helper would have been. And the best part is I was working at waist level and not down on the floor!
There are a lot of videos on You Tube uploaded by folks that demonstrate different ways of dismantling pallets. Check them out if you are interested in pallet re-purposing.