How To Disassemble Pallets Without Destroying The Wood

Most pallet wood (with some important exceptions) can be salvaged for usable lumber for quick DIY projects. In this video, we show you how.

When I spy a towering pile of pallets, I can’t help but see a whole lot of possibility. I also see some decent scrap wood up for grabs. Reclaimed, reconfigured pallets are the basis for myriad DIY projects. Still, I have no illusions about the work it can take to free up all of those little spruce, pine and fir boards without splintering them in the process.

Fortunately, there are a few simple ways to dismantle wood pallets that don’t require tons of fancy equipment.

In this video, I show you what to look for—and what to avoid—when picking pallets for your own wood projects. For instance, most pallets are stamped with a series of letters and numbers. These help signal which ones may have been chemically treated and which ones haven’t.

(Some pallets in circulation have been fumigated with methyl bromide which is toxic to insects—and hazardous for humans.)

Read more: Here are some ideas for putting reclaimed barnwood to use.

I also show you one foolproof way to disassemble a pallet that’ll leave you with a decent bit of usable wood. All you need is a hammer, a crowbar, saw and safety glasses.

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Rather go low-tech? I came across two other methods worth mentioning. One requires just two long planks and a clever bit of leverage. For the other, you’ll need four small scraps of wood and a hammer.

I’ve had success with each of these alternative methods on most—but not all—types of pallets.

Of course, if you plan to make a habit out of reworking pallet scraps, you could spring for a pallet-busting tool or purchase plans to make your own. And, no matter how you choose to break them up, be sure you have permission to grab those pallets before carting them home.

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