Learn how to dismantle a pallet without splitting the boards! You can even break down a pallet without a saw by following these easy tips.
Who hasn’t dreamed of free lumber for your next DIY project? You have really hit the jackpot. Reducing our carbon footprint while repurposing pallets is a great way to do a good turn for mother nature and save yourself some real money while stocking up for your next DIY project.
We have all seen those DIY projects that make us think “that’s neat” and “maybe I could do that!” Free lumber makes the decision to try a lot easier. Armed with a few tools, you can convert a stack of pallets into a stack of lumber in no time.
If you have any small kiddos or grandchildren, get them to help! You will hear some really funny stuff — like “Green Gekko muscle power” — while they help.
Check out the dismantling process below
A few minutes and a couple of tools you will have a stack of lumber ready for a DIY project.
Tools Needed for your Pallet project:
- Small Pry bar
- Claw hammer
- 12 – 24 inch long 4 x 4
- 12 inch long 1 x ? –This piece can be a 1×4, 1×6, whatever you happen to have available.
How do you stop pallet wood from splitting?
The biggest frustration in pallet projects is when the wood starts breaking and splitting when I’m breaking down the pallet. Older pallets have this issue more often as the wood gets drier as they age.
If a board begins to split, stop working and drench the pallet in water. Completely soak it, then leave the pallet alone overnight. Try again later after the wood has soaked up the moisture. This doesn’t work every time, but it’s saved quite a lot of lumber for me already!
- Pry bar
- Scrap piece of 4x4 (12-24" long)
- Scrap piece of 1x? (can be 1x4, 1x6, whatever you have available; it should be around 12 inches)
- Secure the best-looking pallets you can find and if possible get pallets that are uniform in size and configuration. If the pallet has been handled badly the damage might make the pallet unfit for your project.
- Place the 12" 1 x ? piece as far under the pallet as it will reach with at least 6 inches protruding from the front of the pallet.
- Place the 4 x 4 on the 1 x ? board within an inch of the first pallet board. Wedge the pry bar between the 4 x 4 and the pallet board.
- Strike the end of the 4 x 4 with your hammer, and the pallet board will begin to lift from the runner. The pry bar will finish lifting the board if the board doesn’t pop from the runner.
- Move to the next runner and repeat the process until the top boards have all been removed. Turn the pallet over and start on the bottom boards.
- The 4 x 4 will not be useful for removing the bottom boards, so use just the pry bar and hammer to remove the bottom boards. These boards are usually the most abused and dirty boards harvested from a pallet.
- Remove the nails and wash the boards with a 5 to 1 Bleach to water solution to disinfect.
If the pallet wood wants to split, drench them in water and let them sit until tomorrow and try again. As pallets age the wood gets drier and is more prone to split.