How To Take Apart A Pallet

How To Take Apart A Pallet

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One of the most popular uses for a pallet is for designing innovative furniture. Whether you have found a couple of pallet pieces in a hardware store, or in shipping storage, you should ensure that it wasn’t used for transporting chemical goods.

The main reason for this is that the chemicals could affect the integrity of the pallet, and, thus, even if you are successful in making that furniture, it will degrade much faster.

As long as it wasn’t used for transporting food, chemicals, or liquid goods, you are fine. Your best bet is to find a new one, as working with and disassembling it is going to be easiest if the material didn’t suffer previous modifications.

Taking apart a pallet is something that has to be done in order for you to be able to use it for the innovative idea you have in mind. In order to help you, we have prepared a few of the fastest ways to do this, ways that don’t require much experience or hefty tools, and that still allows for great results. So what are you waiting for? Continue reading and learn how to take apart a pallet!

How to Take Apart a Pallet

The first method that we will be reviewing is simply one of the easiest ways to disassemble a pallet. As we have suggested above, the first step will be to find a pallet that is in good condition. Bearing in mind that you will probably be using it as lumber material, make sure that it doesn’t have any apparent discolorations or physical defects. As for the dimensions, the industry standard is either 4x4 ft. or 2x4 ft. The choice is yours and depends on what type of furniture you will be going for.

The main tool that you will need is a reciprocating saw. While there are people who suggest taking apart a pallet without this tool, that requires more effort, and using a hammer or a pry bar is certainly not for inexperienced people. Thus, if we are talking about the fastest way, it is by investing in the aforementioned saw and equipping it with a 12-inch bi-metal blade. 

This way, you will prevent the pallet from getting damaged, while still ensuring reliable performance. Talking about safety, you will want to get protection, such as gloves and goggles, as well as a dust mask, considering that there will be a lot of pallet residue flying around.

Once you are all set and ready, set the pallet parallel, facing the ground. Be sure that your first cutting motion is through the nails that are used to connect the slats and side supports. There shouldn’t be an issue with this part, as long as you are using a sharp blade and making sure that you are cutting through the nails and not the wood.

When you are done, flip it over and disassemble the 2x4 support from the pallet body. Only after both the left and the right 2x4 side supports are removed, move on to the center, and cut to the bottom, not leaving any of the nails intact.

Just like we have suggested above, be sure that you are wearing proper hand and foot protection - you will not want to step on a rusty nail! Additionally, if some of the pallet support doesn’t want to come apart, you can use a hammer and a pry bar for more delicate disassembling.

The last step is pounding the nail head and taking it out using a hammer claw. Finally, set the disassembled pallet boards on top of one another and get prepared for the furniture-designing part.

How to Take Apart a Pallet Without a Saw

Now, there may be a few reasons why you don’t want to or can’t use a reciprocating saw in the disassembling process. Frankly, there is nothing to worry about, as the only thing that you need to figure out is how to cause an equal reaction to a certain action. In this case, where we are talking about removing boards from a pallet, it calls for using a low-profile jack.

The first thing that you need to do is set the jack below the left side of the right-cross member, and do the same with the middle-cross member, as well. Jack the boards until these are loose and ready to come apart. If you are having issues with simply taking the pallet board by the side and pulling it off the main body, twist some more, and it should come off. Do this with the first 4-5 boards, before you move on to the next step.

Now, turn the pallet over. By taking some 2x4 support, placing it below and next to the remaining boards, and drilling a couple of holes on the left and right-cross, you will make the ideal instructable that will help you take apart the remaining boards. Now, make sure that there is some extra space for the head screws, in order to ensure that the wood will not get damaged in the process.

When you are done with that, turn the pallet back up and continue with what you were doing in the first step - jack under the right cross, do some jacking, then the same with the idle-cross member. The last few boards shouldn’t require using a jack, as you will probably be able to take these off by pressing your boot down on one side and applying pressure by pulling/twisting on the other one.

Still, be sure to use the necessary safety items such as goggles, gloves, and a dust mask, as you don’t want to get hit by a nail or plywood coming off the pallet.

How To Take Apart A Pallet

How to Take Apart a Pallet WIth a Crowbar

With there being many different methods on how to take apart a pallet, using a good old crowbar and hammer is probably the safest if you don’t want to damage the wood in the process. Still, what you need to keep in mind is that this method requires a lot more time than the first method with a saw.

Also, be aware that a lot of plywood will be flying around everywhere. What this means is that you shouldn’t be getting into the dismantling process unless you have considered all the safety precautions. The main mechanics of using a crowbar and a hammer to take apart a pallet is by pulling the boards off the nails.

When considering the tools that you will need for this work, you should invest in a crowbar that is around 40cm, a proper screwdriver, hammer, pincer, safety goggles, and gloves. The first thing that you want to do is ensure that the pallet is placed away from any fragile objects - also, it should be in an upside-down position. The first boards that you should be taking on are the bottom ones.

By pushing the tip of a screwdriver in between the boards and stringers using a hammer, you should be able to create some loose space - once that is done, place the crowbar in the empty space and pull it up. Do that for all the sides of a certain board, and proceed with the same method for the bottom, middle, and top decks. Now, the only left thing to do is remove all the nails.

Place the disassembled board on two pieces of wood and use a hammer to lightly hit and push the nail a few millimeters out of its starting position. Once you have done that, come in with a pincer, loosen the nail, and take it out with a simple pulling movement. While it may take some time, you should be able to get all the nails out without any other tools.

How to Take Apart a Pallet Without Breaking Boards

If you need to know the best way to take apart a pallet and not break the boards in the process, there are two methods that we personally enjoy (both we have mentioned above). The first one is by using a reciprocating saw and a 12-inch blade that will ensure the nails are easy to cut through. This way, you are not applying any real pressure on the boards. Unlike the method where we suggested you use a jack, this one will not require as much physical effort.

The second method is by using a crowbar - still, in order to ensure that the boards are not damaged in this process, you need to buy a bar that is at least 40cm, and get a big screwdriver, as well. This way, you will lower the risk of the pallet board breaking because there was too much pressure from your side if the tools weren’t strong enough.

The key to not damaging a board in the disassembling process is to make sure it is in the right position (upside down with the crowbar), and that you don’t rush when taking out the nails.

How to Take Apart a Pallet Without Power Tools

While using power tools to take apart a pallet will certainly facilitate the process and make it easier for a beginner who doesn’t want to risk breaking the boards, it may not be very safe. Apart from that, not using the power tools in this process will reduce the overall cost and also allow you to save energy. Yes, excluding the reciprocating saw or other power tools from the disassembling process will require that you invest more time, but the crowbar and hammer method still works really well.

As we have mentioned above, ensuring that you have a few essentials, such as the pincer, screwdriver, pry bar, and a hammer for taking out the nails, is all that you will need to do.

Create space in between the board and the side support with a hammer and a screwdriver, then pull it away with a crowbar. Another great option is to use a wood wedge instead of the bar, but that is something that we will review in the section below.

How to Take Apart a Pallet With a Hammer

One of the best methods for ensuring that the pallet is not damaged, while still getting optimal results, is using a wood wedge. Now, in order for this method to be successful, you will need to get a proper hammer, as well, and make sure that the wedge is not rotten.

The first step in this process is placing the wedge in between the plank and bottom/side support. Once you have done that, feel free to pound it in with your hammer. Continue doing so until the board is loose and can be twisted off the support. Flip it over and remove the nails with a hammer claw.

How to Take Apart a Pallet With a Reciprocating Saw

At the end of our list of methods to take apart a pallet, we will once again suggest using a reciprocating saw. The thing is, you don’t need a lot of tools in order to do it efficiently and safely. Apart from the saw with a proper bi-blade, you will need goggles, a dust mask, and a pair of safety gloves.

Turn the pallet upside down and start by cutting the left side support nails through to the bottom. Do the same with the right sides, as well, and finish it off by cutting through the nails that are in the center plank. Once that is done, loosen the nails using a pincer and try to take them out, starting with the head. Arrange the assembled boards, and you are good to go!

Final Thoughts

Taking apart a pallet doesn’t have to be stressful or demanding. We have done our best to come up with a few methods to do it safely, and now it all comes down to your preference and budget on whether you will be using a power tool, or you will be going for the classic ways of a crowbar/wood wedge and a hammer!

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