DIY: Dismantling a Pallet by Hand


A recycled pallet can be used for all sorts of projects, from bookshelves, to boot stands and even as firewood kindling. If you are a do-it-yourselfer and find yourself in possession of a pallet, there are several ways to dismantle it. Learn a few tips to help you get the pallet apart and into the right size of pieces to fit your needs.

Remove the Nails

  • This method works when you want to preserve as much of the wood as possible. The majority of pallets are put together with annular ring nails. These are ridged nails designed for strength. One way to approach dismantling a pallet is to drill off the nail heads. Attach sheet metal drill bits to your drill and grind away the top of the head. Then, pull the boards off in one piece. If you do not have access to a drill, pry out the individual nails with a tool like a clawhammer. Another method that works is by cutting the nails. For this job, you will need a wide chisel. Wedge the chisel in between the pallet boards until it stops at a nail. Then give it a good whack with a hammer. You should feel the chisel cut through the nails.

Pulling Out the Boards

  • If you do not mind a few broken boards, pull out the wood with a pry bar. Jam the bar between the wood blocks in the middle and the piece of wood you want to remove. Give it a few sharp taps with a hammer and then start working the bar back and forth. A slotted screwdriver also works well for this. Do not use a crowbar because you will just wind up with splintered wood.

Give It the Ax

  • When you are not concerned about the quality of wood, dismantle the pallet by chopping it up with an ax. This works best if you just want to use the pallet pieces for kindling. You can also use a power saw to cut the pallet into manageable pieces. As always, when working with any kind of power tools, wear the right safety equipment. Also, if using a power saw, be aware of the nail placement in the pallet and steer your cuts well away.

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