Dismantling Pallets to Salvage the Wood

Dismantling Pallets to Salvage the Wood

Dismantling pallets can be as hard or easy as you want to make it!

But the main aim when dismantling pallets is to retrieve as much undamaged and usable wood as possible. A lot will depend on what tools you have to hand and if you want to spend out on specialist tools or not.

tools used to strip down a pallet, lump hammer, cold chisels and hack saw

Myself, I just use what I have, here's my list:

  • Lump Hammer
  • 3" Wide Cold Chisel
  • 1" Wide Cold Chisel
  • Hacksaw
  • Gloves
  • Eye Protection

My process is very simple, I use the hammer to drive the 3" chisel between the joint in the wood, just enough to get the hacksaw in and cut through the nails. I find this way I am putting less stress on the wood and reduce the amount of split wood I end up with.

Sometimes I get pallets that have shorter nails, so after initially prizing the pieces of wood apart with the 3" chisel, I will follow up with the 1" chisel to finish off. At this point the planks will usually pull apart with no real effort or damage to the wood.

image showing pallet woods planks from a stripped down pallet

Using this method I can  usually strip a pallet down in about 15 minutes with minimal damage to the wood.

Usually I wait until I have 6 or so pallets to dismantle, then have a session of taking them to bits. I find doing it this way it keeps the workshop organised as I am only focusing on one task. It's also very satisfying to stand back when you have finished and see that nice new stack of wood you have ready for the next project! The exception to this rule is when I need a specific piece of wood of a certain thickness or length.

There are of course other methods to strip a pallet down into its component parts and we will take a look at one or two of those below.

Other Pallet Dismantling Tools

There are a number of purpose built pallet dismantling tools, also known as Pallet Busters such as the one shown to the right, this model is available on Amazon UK. I have never used one of these tools or anything like but after watching a few youtube videos that demonstrate how to use them I must admit they do look useful. There a few different variation of this tool available from different manufacturers, you can see them here on Amazon: Pallet Dismantling tools available on Amazon
Another tool I have seen widely used for pallet dismantling is the Sabre saw or Reciprocating Saw such as the one shown to the right. It's used as an electric hacksaw to cut through the nails, and I have to agree it would be an effortless and quicker way to deal with the nails! If you wish, you can see a range of these saws on Amazon here: Sabre Saws available on Amazon

So there you go, a brief look at a couple of ways of how to dismantle shipping pallets so you can salvage the wood to make stuff.

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