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Reclaimed Glory #6: Breaking down a hardwood pallet - (Rubberwood?)

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Blog entry by palaswood posted 327 days ago 1401 reads 0 times favorited 10 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: Hand Plane Madness (its a real thing) Part 6 of Reclaimed Glory series Part 7: Reclaimed pine strip panel made with hand tools »

The other night I spied with my little wood-crazed eyes, a pallet with exceptional color and figure that is the same wood as I had salvaged from a disassembled dolly of sorts in topic: What species is this?? Wood Identification help

Here is what i saw that piqued my interest:

So I went shopping the following day on my lunch break to that big orange Home Center, and came away with some great tools for breaking down this pallet. (reviews forthcoming, they all performed awesomely)

With these three tools, a 16oz HDX claw hammer, Dewalt 10 inch claw bar (nail puller), and the Stanley Wonder bar (crowbar), I began my deconstruction.

First I had to learn how to use the tools, but with a few missteps and using the trial and error method, i discovered the most efficient and safe way (after splitting some boards) to pry off the boards.

My method: Hammer in the wonder bar, then using a sharp, jerking motion (loosens nails, but minimizes wood damage), pry the board loose, changing angles often. Slow pressure only seems to crack the wood more, and doesn’t loosen the nails as well as sharp but controlled prying motions.

I would then hammer it back in using a piece of wood (that had previously snapped off unfortunately during the trial and error phase) to get the nail heads to poke out a bit

Then its time for the Dewalt claw bar to do its thing. Love this little guy.

After quite a while, with the sun setting, I got the bottom boards off.

Prying off the square blocks took most of the effort, and it was tough work, so I guess that’s why I didn’t take any pictures of that process.

The board without the blocks. The little nail nubs were the biggest problem, see next paragraph.

The nails were actually bent over and pounded in on the other side (Oh Great! i thought). But I found a nifty way with the DeWalt claw bar, using the “teeth”, to twist the nail up a bit so I could get under it with the whole “tooth”, and using a torquing motion, erect the nail so the board would slip off when using the pry bar. GENIUS!

Once I discovered this, it was only a matter of time. Using the pry bar, I pretty easily separated the rest of the boards and I was left with a pile of gnarled wood with nails sticking out every which way. I did however feel a great sense of accomplishment (but boy did my back hurt!)

The tools served me very well, and I was extremely pleased with them. I’m satisfied that I chose the right tools for the job (future pallets beware!).

I cannot believe that a pine pallet would give me even 1/4 the trouble that this one did. The wood is extremely hard, and the nails just didnt want to budge. Compounded with the fact that the incredibly cheap nails fell apart half the time, the head bending or popping clean off when trying to pull it.

Here is one cool looking block after a really quick sand with 80 > 100 > 150 grit. (using flash).

I’m excited (as always) to see how this haul will clean up and I’m on vacation next week from work, so hopefully i can find the time to begin to put this FREE lumber to use. Nail holes be damned, I kinda like the look and the story that goes along with the final finished piece (whatever it becomes) only adds to my enjoyment of it all and the history of the piece.

Stay tuned …

-- Joseph, Lake Forest, CA, http://instagram.com/palas_woodcraft#



10 comments so far

View freidasdad's profile

freidasdad

144 posts in 1583 days


#1 posted 326 days ago

Great find. That’s some beautiful wood.
I’ve broken down some pallets myself and I know those twist nails are a bugger to release. Looking forward to the project.

-- My goal in life is to be as good a person as my dog already thinks I am---author unknown

View palaswood's profile

palaswood

598 posts in 347 days


#2 posted 326 days ago

It’s beautiful right? I’m not crazy! (he says to his girlfriend, who “allowed” him to haul it home in the trunk of the 2 seater)

:)

-- Joseph, Lake Forest, CA, http://instagram.com/palas_woodcraft#

View hoosier0311's profile

hoosier0311

355 posts in 622 days


#3 posted 325 days ago

I dont know what kind of wood it is either, but it’s very nice! I think my wife is starting to worry about me I usually come home from work with a pallet or two in the back of my truck LOL. Since I’m the shipping sup I know what comes and goes out of the plant each day. We got some stuff in from Indonesia last week,,,,,the pallets were small, but mahogany! Project for that not decided yet. I make tons of stuff from pallets, and the upcycling aspect creates a good bit of interest at sale time. Looking forward to seeing what you make from your find.

MarkSR on this site designed a very cool pallet taker-aparter, give him a shout and he can hook you up with details.

-- I'm only deaf in one ear,,,,,I just can't hear out of the other one., Denny, Indiana implant, living in PA

View palaswood's profile

palaswood

598 posts in 347 days


#4 posted 324 days ago

Thanks Hoosier, mahogany? That’s awesome. Have any ideas what you’re gonna do with it? How much did you get?

Ill hit up MarkSR about that. I find lately that I’m geting caught up in finding free wood instead of actually working it. This week I’m on vacation so I’m gonna spend as much focused time in the shop as possible (the gf might have a word or two to say about that lol)

-- Joseph, Lake Forest, CA, http://instagram.com/palas_woodcraft#

View hoosier0311's profile

hoosier0311

355 posts in 622 days


#5 posted 324 days ago

I got two entire 40×48 4 way entry pallets. There are 3 runners that measure 48” long 2” by 4” and nine 40” long 3/8 thick and 4 1/2 inches wide. I think they may transform into a jewelry box for my better 1/2.

I find myself useing pallets for alot anymore. Wood is getting salty to purchase. The thing to remember is there is a price for pallet working. I have a few old steel blades to put on the tablesaw, very easy to miss a nail or two. also have several sets of blades for the planer. I have been looking to pick up a second hand planer that I can set up and roll outside to plane the rough stuff off. (One of those 175.00 craftsman ones that people grow out of, and unload at a gargage sale for 50 bucks.) also pallets are often wet, you’ll want to dedicate some drying space and make sure you have a method of stickering them up and strapping them down so they dont warp and twist thus making them good for little more than firewood.

-- I'm only deaf in one ear,,,,,I just can't hear out of the other one., Denny, Indiana implant, living in PA

View palaswood's profile

palaswood

598 posts in 347 days


#6 posted 324 days ago

That’s a nice haul. I appreciate the drying tip, and how long do you recommmend they set for? The garage is hot as hell but little air flow. I cam sticker and strap down. As for nails left in the wood, I have seen reclaiming crews use metal detecting wands, but those I’m sire cost money. I don’t have the space you do, living in a condo. You have amassed quite a pallet gallery there!

-- Joseph, Lake Forest, CA, http://instagram.com/palas_woodcraft#

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

1486 posts in 800 days


#7 posted 306 days ago

Joseph,

From you photos its got to be the same timber, if I didn’t know any better I would say its a picture I had taken!!

-- Regards Robert

View palaswood's profile

palaswood

598 posts in 347 days


#8 posted 306 days ago

I thought as much. This wood comes in so many varying shades and grain patterns, its hard to believe its all from the same species. I really love how it shines up -but the wood is pretty elastic, if you take my meaning. Almost.. rubbery :)

The boards I got were awfully warped, but with a lot of planing, its coming along.

I still can’t say with certainty that its rubberwood, but I see it more and more now that I’m keeping my eye out for it.

I saw it in furniture pieces at TJ Maxx, made in India. Its nice stuff, so I just stopped worrying about it

-- Joseph, Lake Forest, CA, http://instagram.com/palas_woodcraft#

View robscastle's profile

robscastle

1486 posts in 800 days


#9 posted 306 days ago

Your method for dismantling the pallets is almost the same as mine, I too found that they split if you are too”gentle” so after removing a side I invert it and elevate them and strike the underside near the nailed section with a lump of timber from the frame to remove the slats, usually they come off intact depends how enthusiastic the assembler is with his nail gun.

You can certainly recover some worthwhile timber.

Not forgetting screws bolts washers tee nuts and the likes.

The drum I made was completely assembled from recovered pallet wood and a piece of Ply discard.

-- Regards Robert

View palaswood's profile

palaswood

598 posts in 347 days


#10 posted 306 days ago

That drum is awesome btw, Rob.

I recovered some oak just now on my lunch break, from a railing like you see at the top of a stairway (not along the stairs itself). Solid oak with holes for the balusters. which I removed. Im curious how to use it.

-- Joseph, Lake Forest, CA, http://instagram.com/palas_woodcraft#

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