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Building With Pallets – How to Disassemble A Pallet With Ease For Great Building Projects

Here is a great pallet to use – nice thick wood and untreated

As most of you know – we love to build with pallet wood.  If you spend some time looking  - it is usually pretty easy to find a source to get them for free (See: 6 Simple Tips To Finding Free Pallets). In addition - if you find the right kind – the building potential is limitless.  I thought for today’s DIY post I would show how we go about taking a pallet from its current state to great usable wood in just a few minutes

Working with pallets – the first thing we realized early on is it is nearly impossible and too time consuming to worry yourselves with pulling out the nails.  It is too easy to damage the wood with the claw and hammer or pry bar.

You can get a corded or cordless sawzall – but they are the king of dismantling pallets.

Instead, we opt for our sawzall method – which can disassemble a pallet in less than two minutes into 10 or more pieces of great usable wood.  Besides – the left over embedded nail fragments actually add a ton of character to pieces when either stained or painted.

1st Tip – Invest in a reciprocating saw (sawzall).

They are the key to quickly destructing a pallet – and without damaging or splintering the wood.  Yes, it’s an expense – but the inexpensive ones will work just fine with pallets.

Throw out the little 5″ min blade and Invest in a 12″ Demo/Construction Blade. They last forever and can rip apart a pallet in a few minutes.

2nd Tip – Forget about the little 5″ blade that comes with your sawzall.

That will only frustrate you.  Buy a couple of 12″ construction blades (trust me – the few bucks are worth it – and they last forever).

3rd Tip - How to disassemble.

You can follow below with the pictorial below on how we do it – but in a nutshell – set it on its side and simply slice through the nails on each end. Then – head down the middle row doing the same thing and in no time you have a lot of great pallet wood for all of your crafts!  We have made everything from our custom mailbox, to a wine rack, raised bed stand and more – all for virtually free with pallets. (See: Our Project Pallets)

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First Step – take your sawzall and cut down through one side of the smaller boards all the way to the bottom

Next cut down the opposite side – followed by the middle if there is one – the boards simply fall off

Once you have the front side finished – repeat for the back side – which are usually the largest of the boards

This is what you are left with – great boards to get building with!

This hutch was made from pallet and shipping crate boards

116 Comments on Building With Pallets – How to Disassemble A Pallet With Ease For Great Building Projects

  1. I like to use the 2x4s in my construction, and sometime need to rip them. What do you do with the cut-off nails?

    • Poke them through and pull them.

      • is harder separate the boards and pull the nails without breaking up the boards, but at times I need boards without nails. I have a variety of pry bars, and nail pullers that help but don’t always work.

  2. Do you sand your boards before using them? If so, how?

  3. Thanks for this tutorial! Although I have to admit that it wasn’t quite so easy for me to get it done as it seems to be for you… maybe I would need more practice. But either way I linked up this tutorial in my blog because it helped a lot!
    http://www.atreasureredefined.com
    Check out my tailgate/pallet bench that I just completed!

    • Myself personally, I eventually chisel and sand my boards. Usually in stages as I build or at the end in the case of a table. I will remove grim and splinters with 80grit and finish with 150 on most parts or 220 on table tops. Key is to not try and be perfect I just like removing milling marks and anychance of splinters.

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