Best way to dismantle a pallet?


A thing me and my stepdad’s have started, and can actually do while at least pretending to be civil, is woodworking and crafts. So we have a few pallets and have made a few wallhangings. Trouble is the dismantling method was… Unrefined.

We have a prybar. I assume that will work but for some reason that was not used.


Crow/pry/wrecking/jimmy bar. whatever the local lingo for them is. Gentle smack with a lump hammer for any stubborn bits, use another lump of wood to protect the surface if you need to. Watch for toxic wood treatments if they’re being used for indoorsy stuff.

Source: Most of my furniture used to be made of pallets I nicked from round the back of the DIY centre. :laughing:

ETA: Here’s some stuff about decoding pallet markings.


I’ve only disassembled pallets a few times.

You definitely want a Half-life style crowbar

And a pair of good leather gloves.

A regular nail prybar

works too, but they tend to be rather short, while crowbars are typically longer

The nail prybars are good for stuff like workpieces you can put on a bench, or taking apart framing. The crowbar is good for reking shit.

In a pinch, a clawhammer of any kind works too. But that’s going to be uncomfortable, low on leverage, and if it has a wood handle, you can end up snapping it on a stubborn nail. But take that with a grain of salt. I lack finesse, and have broken stuff like shovels and axe handles just because what I lack in skill I try to make up for in brute force.


Pallets are Urban Barnwood.
Just wanted to put that out there.


Well when you have friends that readily continually gets hold of untreated wood on the cheap and people that will buy ‘can get it done in a half hour including stain’ pieces?


This is stuck in my head now


I’ve always used a Sawz-All to cut the boards off and then a center punch to remove the nail fragments, if necessary. The nails are often spiral or ring-shank and coated with glue to keep them from coming out easily. It can be difficult to pry them off with a pry-bar without breaking them.


That’s what we did last time. First time my stepdad brute forced the issue and, well, we got maybe half or less in useable wood.


I guess I should have mentioned this Instructable…


The fragments make excellent firewood, assuming they’re not treated with toxic chemicals or fire retardant.


I have dismantled more than twenty, but less than a hundred, I’m reasonably sure. Might be getting close to that latter number.

Everything @RatMan said is gold. The sawzall is the absolute fastest way to disassemble with minimum damage. Assume that the nails will be spiral or ring shank, and usually galvanized (so avoid burning them). And assume that the wood is treated unless you have good evidence to the contrary.

The thing that you guys are calling a crowbar is properly named a wrecking bar or J-bar, but that is rapidly changing due to language evolution and the increasing majority of the English-speaking population no longer engaging in any real labor. You may as well call it a crowbar and be ahead of the curve, I guess.

I use a 3-foot wrecking bar and a splitting maul, usually, not because that’s the best way but because that’s the tools closest to the spot where I usually break them up. I have also used wedges and sledge, which I would say does more damage than the sawzall, but less than the wrecking bar, assuming you are reasonably skilled with the tools.


It probably should read

If you have more than a couple of pallets to break up –as well as some welding equipment --this tool will save a lot of time.


It’s from Instructables…I’m surprised you don’t need a CNC machine and\or a 3-D printer


If all you want are the planks, I find one of the quickest ways is to use an axe to chop the blocks in half, then pry the half blocks off. That way the nails are half exposed and you can just hammer them out a little and then remove them with the crowbar.


If you do that with a cheap axe, the nails are likely to notch your blade.

With that caveat, good hack! I’ll try it with my splitting maul next time I need to break up a pallet. It’s already notched…


I don’t mean to cut them completely in half, but you can generally cut a couple of inches in and then pry the halves apart without touching the nails. If the blocks are wood rather than mdf or something else, It’s sometimes quicker to get the halves off by cutting vertically along the same line as two or three nails.


Yes, if they’re pallets of poison then they need to be dropped in a vessel with a pestle.


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