Finally scored a Pallet!! But was it worth it?? Now what?

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Forum topic by BCurrent posted 04-02-2013 09:48 PM 1954 views 0 times favorited 20 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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14 posts in 2820 days

04-02-2013 09:48 PM

Topic tags/keywords: oak question

For years I’ve been watching the pile of pallets behind our building come and go and haven’t really gotten anything from save for a piece or two of plywood when they have a special container come in. Last week, while walking by I noticed some new ones on the pile and noticed some ‘different’ but familiar looking grain patterns on some slats on one… almost like quarter-sawn flecks. I stopped for a closer look and behold, a pallet made from white oak, mostly quarter-sawn!! I ran and got my truck and quickly loaded it! I was pretty jazzed, my first ‘real’ pallet find!

It wasn’t long after I got it home, unloaded and started to disassemble it that my excitement started waning… quickly! If you’ve ever pulled apart a pallet, you know they use a ‘twisted’ nail about 12d size that don’t pull out very easily… so in white oak, I can now tell you they do not pull out at all! Instead, the heads pop off the nails when given a good heave-ho! Also, when trying to pry up the slats a little just to get at the nails, several of them started splitting bad. The slats are approx. 1/2” thick , so you can’t pry on them too much before they split. Also, upon closer inspection, it looks like the runners have been re-used and you can see old nails that have been cut off in between some of the slats that are on there now.

So for now, I’ve put it aside as I was just tearing it up and getting frustrated, but wanted to see if any of you experienced palletizers had any suggestions on what to do with it! I’m thinking I can grind the heads of the nails off and then pull off the slats and try to use them, but I was really more excited about the runners as they are closer to 2×4 dimensions. Now I’m real leary of trying to use the runners as they are chock full of nails… nails I can’t seem to remove! So, does anyone have any other suggestions on how to salvage any of this fine wood??

Bill C.

20 replies so far

View Dallas's profile


3599 posts in 2662 days

#1 posted 04-02-2013 10:34 PM

Good Luck!

With pallets I am very short on patience. I cut the stringers out with a saw, leaving a chunk on each runner.
The small parts can be broken off the runners and the nails then pulled more easily.
If they don’t pull out… cut them off.

Now…. don’t you feel better?

-- Improvise.... Adapt...... Overcome!

View whitebeast88's profile


4128 posts in 2365 days

#2 posted 04-02-2013 10:39 PM

+1 with dallas.

-- Marty.Athens,AL

View Dusty56's profile


11822 posts in 3863 days

#3 posted 04-02-2013 11:41 PM

Being able to salvage good runners is very difficult.
Even if you do get the nails out , the wood will be full of nail holes and also may be stained. I finally gave up on the runners and concentrate on the cross pieces instead. Good luck …there is a lot of nicely figured wood that gets used for pallets : )

-- I'm absolutely positive that I couldn't be more uncertain!

View sixstring's profile


296 posts in 2418 days

#4 posted 04-03-2013 12:01 AM

Metal detector, cut the exposed nail heads off, and just leave them in there and work around it. I mentioned the metal detector to avoid running a nail through your sawblade. Be very careful when you start cutting into this stuff.

Here’s a tip with finding hardwood pallets: stone suppliers (bricks, boulders, etc) generally use some type of oak for their pallets. Forget about the ones behind the grocery and retail stores. You want the good stuff they use for very very heavy materials like stone.

-- JC Garcia, Concord, CA : "It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission..."

View Brandon's profile


4152 posts in 3127 days

#5 posted 04-03-2013 12:05 AM

And if there’s anything you can’t use, well, white oak makes for good fire wood.

-- "hold fast to that which is good"

View Todd A. Clippinger's profile

Todd A. Clippinger

8901 posts in 4275 days

#6 posted 04-03-2013 12:11 AM

I’m with Dallas and whitebait-

-- Todd A. Clippinger, Montana,

View teejk's profile


1215 posts in 2860 days

#7 posted 04-03-2013 12:34 AM

good wood does not get used for pallets around here (usually what we call “scrub oak”).

IMHO the nails they use are impossible to remove…they like to reuse the pallets so they want to make sure they can survive multiple forklift operations. If you want to make small boxes the slats can produce some very interesting stuff as do the runners but I cut around anything that contains one of those nails…not worth the time or effort.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3182 posts in 3406 days

#8 posted 04-03-2013 12:57 AM

” If you want to make small boxes the slats …”

or crates! :-)

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View BCurrent's profile


14 posts in 2820 days

#9 posted 04-03-2013 02:06 PM

Thanks for the input guys (and gals if any!)... guess I was hoping for more positive results with some new-fangled, whiz-bang approach to getting them apart!! Reality sure has a way of spoiling things sometimes! I’ll try to salvage at least some pieces of the slats and then probably just turn the rest to firewood for my friend who heats his shop with a wood stove.

Thanks again for all the input!

Bill C.

View woodbutcherbynight's profile


5598 posts in 2584 days

#10 posted 04-03-2013 02:44 PM

-- Live to tell the stories, they sound better that way.

View MT_Stringer's profile


3182 posts in 3406 days

#11 posted 04-03-2013 04:29 PM

A friend helped me weld up a big pry bar that resembles a u shaped fork. Put that sucker under the pallet slats and pry down. Something is gonna give.

I haven’t been able to use the pallet runners except for a couple. Too many nails…lots of them cut off from rebuilds. I always seem to find the ugly ones. However some slats are poplar, cedar and oak. That is what I made the crates from. Gotta think small.

Note: Personally, I down care for stuff built out of pallets that look like they were built using a pallet. If I can’t mill it and reuse it in a different way, then I forget it and move on.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View lumberjoe's profile


2899 posts in 2423 days

#12 posted 04-03-2013 05:15 PM

I am sure I am in the minority here, but the only thing I make with pallets is S’mores on those cool summer/autumn nights.


View MT_Stringer's profile


3182 posts in 3406 days

#13 posted 04-03-2013 05:42 PM

Condiment rack.

-- Handcrafted by Mike Henderson - Channelview, Texas

View sprucegum's profile


324 posts in 2173 days

#14 posted 04-03-2013 07:52 PM

We cut em through the slats with a chainsaw where there are no nails then throw them in the outside wood fired boiler.

-- A tube of calk and a gallon of paint will make a carpenter what he ain't

View 69BBNova's profile


341 posts in 2392 days

#15 posted 04-03-2013 08:26 PM

Ive never done this but I would use some Ok (not your best) 1/8” or smaller drill bits and drill 3-4 holes near the nail (real close) to relieve the wood hanging on…

It should pull apart much easier, just remember to hide the holes inside of whatever you build.

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