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, Irvine CA, @palas_woodcraft on Instagram