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The Best Way to Dismantle a Wooden Pallet

15 Jun 2017

Buying used wooden pallets instead of new wood for DIY and craft projects is a great way to save money and recycle. Most used pallets are made of wood that is as good as new, or at least will be after it’s seen the sander. However, due to their tough and sturdy construction, taking a pallet apart can be hard work. But depending what tools you have to hand, there are plenty of easy ways to deconstruct a pallet.

Find a Good Pallet Source


Firstly, sourcing the top pallets on the market is the best place to start. Look for pallets without splintered edges or any signs of weakness. Recycle wooden pallets that have been used to ship dry goods. These are the best and will have the least wear and tear. A little light discolouring is nothing to be afraid of, but deep discolouring might mean rot.

The Tools of the Trade

A reciprocating saw is by far the best tool for taking used wooden pallets apart in record time. A longer 12” blade is best for giving you better access for hard-to-reach places between the slats. A hammer and pry bar are also needed and can be used alone if you don’t own a saw. However, these will need a little more effort on your part, and also more care needs to be taken. In both cases, gloves and eye protection are essential.

Dismantle Wood Pallets Easily

If using the saw, stand the pallet upright and support it between two drums or blocks. Begin cutting through the nails, slowly, from the top and continue down one side before starting on the other side of the same 2×4. For the bottom slat, you should flip the pallet over to avoid sawing into the floor and dulling the blade. However, once it’s flipped, just move to the other side of the 2×4 and keep sawing. If you saw the slats off one by one, the pallet won’t be stable enough to keep sawing accurately, so once the first 2×4 support is free, move on to the next and work through in the same fashion. After the second 2×4 is free, you can begin on the centre support and saw through the nails here too.

Using the Hand Tools

The same results as above can be achieved with the hammer and pry bar. You might also find the saw struggles to find a gap large enough to pry its way in to cut the nail – in which case, the pry bar will be needed. Although using hand tools is more time-consuming, many swear the results are better. And even if you did use the saw, you will now need the hammer to pop the old nail ends out. Use the claw to prise out the heads, and tap a fresh nail in to remove the spikes.

Once this is done, all you need to do is sand down the reclaimed wood from your used wooden pallets thoroughly. Now stop and admire your pile of top-quality wood.

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