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How Do I Take a Pallet Apart so I Can Use the Wood?

wood pallets

To kick off our DIY segment on using recycled pallet wood, we’re going with the universal first step: obtaining the wood in the first place.

We experimented with a number of methods but finally settled on a great way to disassemble a wooden pallet in a careful manner so the wood can be utilized for building purposes. Here follows our method for safely disassembling a wooden pallet.

Related: Pallet Couch Ideas | Beautiful Pallet Wine Rack | Build a Pallet Adirondack Chair | Build a Pallet Playhouse

1. How to break them down.

Begin cutting off the outside stringers (2×4’s) with a skill saw. Be on the lookout for any nails.

taking pallet apart

Taking a pallet apart with a saw

On each side, draw a line to act asa  guide for cutting the outside stringers off. Chalk or pencil will do.

Make sure that your depth is set to slightly more than the 3/4″ board.

After cutting along each outside stringer, turn the entire pallet over and repeat the process on the other side.

A bit of warning: More often than not, pallets are made of lumber that’s been rejected for other use. Warped, too hard, and full of old nails, it can be a pain to work with. So: please be careful and use proper precaution, including goggles and gloves.

A few ideas:

– Cut the nails with a sawzall.

– Use a pneumatic chisel.

– Use a catspaw to dig the nails out.

Related: 55 Types of Tools | Standard Wood Pallet Dimensions | Pallet Bed Ideas | Pallet Coffee Table Ideas

2. How to break them down, continued.

Next, use a hammer to knock the stinger off.

Breaking a pallet down into parts with a hammer


3. Detach the board from the middle stringer.

Removing boards from pallet middle stringer

Now, you’ll be still have a load of 1×4’s and 1×6’s attached to the 2×4 in the center.

Gently rock the 1×4’s and 1×6’s to remove the board without destroying it.

Note: you will surely ruin a few boards. Save them as firewood! Remember to remove any leftover nails, and set it to the side. You’ll want to judge and order the boards, based on warps and imperfections, to help decide on which pieces to use.

4. Your payoff.

Pallet boards removed from wooden pallet

We usually extract 6 good 1×4’s and 3 decent 1×6’s from each pallet. 3 four foot 2×4’s are also obtainable. With these pieces gathered, you are ready to begin any DIY project utilizing the former pallets!