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A Reciprocating Saw to help Dismantle Pallets

reciprocating saw baled

Yes I finally got myself up to date recently our local Lidl store had Reciprocating Saws in stock so I treated myself to one, specifically for dismantling pallets. The one I got was cordless and I have to admit it is very powerful and now makes cutting through the nails a breeze. In fact I almost feel like I am cheating, but joking aside this tool has made a massive difference.

a reciprocating saw helps with dismantling pallets

I described in an article a while ago how I dismantle pallets to salvage the wood, well jump forward a few months and now the pallets are stripped so fast in comparison and with a whole lot less effort.

I still use the lump hammer and cold chisel to separate the wood and create a gap big enough for the saw blade to slip into. But now instead of pulling a hack saw backwards and forwards, I just press a button and job done!

Reciprocating Saw battery consumption

I have two 20 volt lithium batteries for this saw and I find on average I can break down about 3 pallets per battery before it needs recharging. So with two fully charged batteries there is normally enough power available for a decent pallet dismantling session.

One thing I would recommend though, is to have a couple of spare blades to hand for the the reciprocating saw. I find sometimes the tip of the blade will knock against a nail and the blade gets bent although you can straighten them out. It does seem to affect their efficiency though, also try and have a couple of different lengths of blade as this will make your job easier.

I believe these reciprocating saws are also known as Sabre Saws and are a great addition to your tool collection. They can be used to cut just about anything as there are a wide range of blades available: Sabre Saws available on Amazon

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Making Log Stores out of Shiping Pallets

Making Log Stores out of Shiping Pallets

Easy Log Stores From Shipping pallets

Making quick and easy Log Stores from Shipping Pallets was I think my first ever project using pallets. I needed an affordable way of storing my logs that would be easy to build. The Log Stores would also have to provide maximum air flow around the logs while they dry out or season and also be protected from the weather.

Making Log Stores out of Shiping Pallets

At that time I was able to cut and split my own firewood as a friendly tree surgeon used to let me have as much softwood as I wanted. I reckon I did around 8 tons a year to keep us heated throughout winter and not using gas central heating at all.

For this job pallets were just perfect, they came ready made with plenty of ventilation built an could easily be put to together with the minimum of fuss.

a complete and very full pallet log store

I figured out that 5 pallets could be used to make a “cube”, base, two sides, rear wall and roof. So now it was a matter of finding 5 pallets, preferably all of the same size. I got lucky and found a local agricultural machinery business who gave me as many pallets as I needed.

Build Your Log Store On Blocks

So without further ado, I sited my base pallet on blocks to raise it off the ground, this prevents damp creeping up into your logs and also encourages good air flow. Next the side walls and rear wall were fitted into place and screwed to the base and then each other at the points that they touched together. Then I put a couple of wooden blocks on the top of the rear wall, so when the roof pallet went on it had a slope for the rain water to run off. The front is left open top allow for easy loading and unloading of the logs and it also allows good air flow.

Next I found some old board to fix over the roof to fill in the gaps, then nailed a sheets of roofing felt over the top for a watertight roof.

Then I gave it a few coats of wood preservative, these logs stores were built around 5 years ago and do you know what, they are still standing!

We even built a huge version in the back of garage to hold the ready to use seasoned logs!

log store in back of garage built out of pallets

Sadly because a of a lower back issue I no longer split the logs myself, but these pallet creations are still used to store bought in logs and other stuff now. I will make some doors for them this summer to keep the contents dry.

Tools Used When Building The Pallet Log Stores

The Cordless drill or battery operated drill is really a tool that no one should be without. Not only is it a drill it can also double up as a very efficient screwdriver as well. The cordless drill to your left is a good example of how manufacturers are offering them as kits, containing both drill bits and screwdriver bits. To see the full range of Cordless drill on Amazon please go here: Cordless Drills available on Amazon

Perhaps the most useful tool you can own, the humble claw hammer is great for both hammering nails in, but can also pull nails out as well! In fact you would use this a lot when dismantling pallets. On the Log Stores it is used to drive in the tacks that secure the roofing felt. The claw hammer shown to your right is manufactured by Stanley and should last you many years. There are many claw hammers available so if you want to have a look go here: Claw Hammers available on Amazon

So there you have a it, a quick look at how to build your own Log Stores out of Shipping Pallets.

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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.

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.

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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Unloved Wood Shipping Pallets can become Beautiful Stuff

Upcycled Palletwood Cabinet
Unloved Wood Shipping Pallets can become Beautiful Stuff

Unloved Shipping Pallets are Tomorrow’s Upcycled useful Stuff

Like many I used to see old scrap wood shipping pallets as potential firewood for my log burner. I think the only useful thing I made out of them back then were some log stores. Which incidentally are still in use after almost 8 years of service!

But of late I have come to view these old pallets in a different way, there was a yearning to upcycle them into something useful, be it a clock, a book stand or a cupboard, whatever! And it was only after I started to actually sand down a piece of this wood that I realised just how beautiful it could be. Often one single pallet can provide around 8 pieces of useful wood that all can have different and interesting grains.

Aside from the neccessity for an item around our home the ideas for stuff to make come from my imagination and the good old University of Youtube. In fact I have been amazed at what Pallets are used to make, the ideas seem to be limitless!

So were do you start, where do you find, scavenge or scrounge these old wood pallets from? Often just driving around you local area you will see pallets were builders are active or people are having work done on their homes. Building sites are another good source and industrial estates too, as there are always deliveries of equipment and stock being made.

Palletwood Clock with Aeroplanes

Always ask don’t just help yourself!

My golden rule is never to just take a pallet, unless it’s just been dumped by a roadside in the middle of nowhere. Otherwise I always, always ask if I can take a pallet away, normally the person I ask is relieved that he/she has got rid of the problem of disposing of the pallet and is only to happy to let me have it. Other places to find unloved pallets are Facebook Marketplace and Freecycle, but I find mainly just keeping your eyes open as you travel around is the best way to find them.

Another thing to look out for is the “HT” stamp on the pallets, if they have this stamp it means they have been heat treated against rot, rather than chemically treated. Obviously it’s better for you when working on the pallet that it’s not been chemically treated!

For my purposes I tend to only go for what are called “white” pallets, these are pallets that haven’t been painted so are much easier to use to make stuff. I believe that pallets are painted as a sign of ownership of the pallet, I may be wrong!

Wood shipping pallets come in many shapes and sizes, some are standard like the “Euro Pallet” and others are custom made for a specific task, but all are made of wood that can be used to make useful stuff. If you can find a source of the same or similar sized pallets that will make you life easier when making stuff because the dimensions of each piece of wood will be almost the same which matters if you are going to make a table top!

Palletwood Cabinet

In a future post I will look at how to disassemble your pallets, de-nail the wood and prepare it for use.