easiest way to dismantle pallets

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hi all
i posted a question on here a few days ago about the cheapest wood i could use for patio furniture and some of you recommended pallet wood. well, i found a bunch of places around town that had free pallets and brought some home on the weekend. i failed to realize just how difficult it would be to take these apart. i realize i could just cut out the sections of wood i want to use, but i'm trying to keep the boards as long as possible. anybody find a easy way to take these apart?
tks
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Dica wrote:

Garrett-Wade is stocking a nail puller model 20B03.01 for 35 bucks. My Dad had one of those, or a very similar tool--they used to be available at hardware stores before these newfangled "catspaw" things became the fad. Never saw a nail it couldn't move as long as there was enough clearance to pull the handle out all the way and put your back into it. Does damage the wood some though. They've also got a set of that one and a smaller model for 4 bucks more--20B03.10 is the set.

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--John
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That's the kicker. The pallets I've taken apart used spiral shank nails and once I *got* them out the surrounding wood was so beat up that I ended up cutting the pieces down. If I had used a saw in the first place to just harvest the sections between the fasteners I'd have been way ahead of the game in time and effort.
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Owen Lowe
The Fly-by-Night Copper Company
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I found that the $20 I had to pay to replace my (disposable) jointer blades, combined with the time spent tearing apart the pallets, cost me more than the wood itself. (It was the grit embedded in the pallets that killed the jointer blades, not nails, etc.)
Heck, it isn't even worth cutting these up for firewood -- gotta grab the file to sharpen the chainsaw after each one. Maybe I just got a bad batch -- I haven't gone back for more.
Regards,
-Steve http://woodworking.bigelowsite.com
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On Wed, 20 Apr 2005 01:15:58 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@see.my.website.below (Stephen Bigelow) wrote:

You'd be amazed how quick you can reduce hardwood pallets to firewood with an 8lb maul. Of course it isn't *neat* firewood, but it makes smoke and heat just fine.
-- "We need to make a sacrifice to the gods, find me a young virgin... oh, and bring something to kill"
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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Back when I had time for pallet-wood fuel, I used the chainsaw. Ran it the "easy way" cutting the pallets roughly into thirds, with each third having the 2x4-ish part and a bunch of slats, and then cut each 2x4 in half-ish. Bite-sized pieces that went into the stove well, and I never hit a nail (due more to luck than skill, I think).
Dave Hinz
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On Mon, 18 Apr 2005 09:19:02 -0400, "J. Clarke"

\ Everyone is acting like this is an impossible task. Assuming you have some time and enjoy things like this to save a buck and be able to say that wood was free, just take your time and work them apart. I have built quite a few items (including most of my shop cabinetes) from pallet wood. Most was some kind of South American pine (pinkish heartwood) but I have salvaged some hardwood plywood (currently residing in a couple of shop cabinets), various tropicals, some maple and some oak. The oak was the least worth the effort both because it was a bear to take apart and the wood was usually less than great. I have mostly used claw hammers and a small (damned small) pry bar. There were a couple of times that getting my splitting wedge between a couple of boards and whacking it a few times proved worthwhile. I should invest in a bigger prybar though. You can minimize pry bar damage to the wood by using scraps to take the brunt of the contact. Beyond that, expect to either enjoy the ambience of the nail holes (which is what I usually do) or get a good set of plug cutters as trying to cut around all the nail holes means never having wood bigger than 12" long or so. As I sit here in my office typing this I am looking at a couple of 30" x 24" picture frames on my wall made from pallet oak. They show the nail holes in all their glory with the black discoloration intact along with some worm holes and trails, framing a couple of old western scene prints. Just the right touch of rustic while still being fully sanded, finished and shellaced. I am not into barnwood or rough wood rustic, but a couple of nail holes or wormholes can give an interesting look in the right situation.
Dave Hall
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It's not impossible of course, but time has value, and the time it takes to get the pallets, bring them home, tear them apart, clean up the pieces, sort through the stock, try to match the same type of wood (!), dispose of the unusable parts, etc. I'd rather be using elsewhere. On top of that most of the pallets I'm seeing nowadays at local retailers and beer distibutors are spray painted a uniform color (at least on the sides) and recollected for reuse/recycle? I'm sure there are more places that just toss them but I think it will become less the norm. If WalMart is recycling them you can bet there is a good rea$on behind it.
--Cheers! Duke
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On Tue, 19 Apr 2005 08:07:25 -0500, "Dukester"

I know of at least two places with piles and piles of pallets. They also have a very large chipper and make hardwood woodchips all day long. They won't let you have any of their pallets :) Kind of like the old days of reusing pop bottles, the economics of companies collecting and reusing pallets for anything other than local shipping type uses is not great. There is more value getting (or possibly paying) a couple of pennies from someone who collects them and turns them into woodchips. As a hobby I find some satisfaction in the reuse of pallet wood. I don't really consider the few minutes (or in some more difficult situations many minutes) of time and effort expended as a "cost" any more than I figure my time into the "cost" of some little box I build. If I did, and given how long it takes me to build anything, I would never make anything because it would "cost" too much. Far "cheaper" to go sit on my ass and watch TV :-) (of course I could charge myself for TV watching too)
Basically, if you enjoy "found wood" and the process of getting and taking pallets apart and seeing what little treasures you can find then go for it. If it seems a chore and an effort and you would rather buy some wood at the local lumber yard or mill and spend more time actually building, then leave the pallets for others or for the woodchippers.
Dave Hall
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...
Apparently there are at least a few companies that refurbish pallets, (and in large quantities):
http://www.polarinertia.com/jan05/pallets05.htm
The RFID tags on pallets that Wallyworld is now requiring is an interesting sidenote to this thread.
--Cheers! Dukester
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Lately, I've been dismantling pallets to build a trellis. I've found some success by cutting the nails with a reciprocating saw and then punching out the pieces with a thin drift punch. This works OK on the 6, 8 and 10d nails. The smaller ones ya just gotta pull.
Bill Leonhardt
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yep my grand dad used to build some really nice stuff from pallet wood he used to stand them on end and pry them open just enough to get the blade of his hack saw in to cut the nails then use a punch to remove the rest me I do the same but I use a recipicating saw hack saws just way to much work Jim
A MAN WITH THE RIGHT TOOLS CAN SURE SCREW THINGS UP
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how difficult it would be to

Someone used to post here about that. Her husband was in the used pallet business. He used a 2 x 4 to pry them so he had a lot of leverage.
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Chain saw is the fastest and easiest method in my opinion. Everything else takes too much time and effort.
--
All the best,

Michael Mastin
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Google is your friend!
http://tinyurl.com/a2gs8 (link to Google archive on disassembling pallets)
Quick summary: don't bother trying. Too much work for too little wood.
--Cheers! Duke

want
find
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Since a lot of them are assebled with VERY large staples, you will have little to no luck getting them apart easily.
I would use a circular saw with a decent blade and a recip saw for the rally nasty ones.
Dica wrote:

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I used a hole saw just larger than the diameter of the nail head, or a center punch on the nail head, drill the head off leaving the top boards intact and the body of the nails to pry out. This is the "price" you pay for "free" pallets. Can you spell t-e-d-i-o-u-s? Pat- who just disassembled pallets made out of Balsa!!!
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IMHO, pallet wood is worthless. Maybe your pallets are better made. Packing crates, now you're talking, but I've never seen a pallet useful for anything more than a rabbit hutch.
I'd suggest dismantling them with a big tree-felling crosscut saw (a sharp one) which is what I use. Second to that would be a garden bow saw, which is much the same but easier to buy new. The easiest is a big reciprocating saw.
Don't use a chainsaw. One day you _will_ hit a nail.
I wouldn't bother dismantling by pulling nails. There are too many nail holes in a small space and the timber is hardly usable past this mess. If you must dismantle them, then I use a simple flat crowbar (a Stanley Wonderbar is worth having in the toolbag). I've never had much luck with a floorboard nail puller on pallets - the sort with a "parrot beak" and a slide hammer to drive the jaws beneath the wood - but they're about the best for direct-pull on nailheads.
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This side of the pond they seem to be pretty decent. Sometimes better than the quality of the goods shipped on them.
Another interesting source, if you can find it, is the wooden floors from old railroad cars. A friend scored a massive amount of Mahogany for next to nothing from an old car. Beat up, but after a couple trips through the planer a marvelous gloat.
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wrote:

You can buy that grade of utility flooring from the right suppliers at pretty cheap prices, without having it subjected to the rigors of freight car use and abuse.
But what resource are we trying to save here? It's not like I have unlimited funds, but my back doesn't have unlimited strength anymore, and fuel for the truck is approaching European price points, without European operating economies...
Would you turn any of that 'mahogany' on your lathe?
Patriarch
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