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How Are Wooden Pallets Made?

03 Dec 2019

How Are Wooden Pallets Made?

Wooden pallets are commonly used worldwide. They play an important part in storage and transportation for many businesses and industries. However, many people don’t know how wooden pallets are made or what material is used for certain pallets.

So we thought it would be a good idea to answer this question. Travelling through the manufacturing process, from which materials are used to the other factors included in the making of the pallets.

 

The Material

The first part of the process is the selection of the material, the choice of wood for the pallet can vary depending on a lot of factors. Most wood pallets are made from a mixture of hardwood and softwood.

Hardwood comes from trees classified as angiosperms, which are flowering plants. Hardwoods are often more expensive, as they take much longer to grow and may grow in areas that are less easily managed. However, the benefits of using a hardwood is that they are a very strong material which can be a benefit in maximising load capacity for your pallet. Examples of hardwoods include; Mahogany, Maple, Teak, Walnut and Oak. With Oak being the most frequently used hardwood in wooden pallets.

Oak is the common hardwood of choice mainly due to its strength and wide availability. Oak is one of the most frequently used hardwoods in many industries and therefore their tends to be a lot of leftover surplus from these markets. Oak being a high density hardwood makes it ideal for pallets that have heavier loads and fragile goods.

Softwood comes from trees classified as gymnosperms. Softwoods are cheaper because they grow faster and are more readily available. Some examples of softwoods include; douglas fir, spruce, yew and the most commonly used softwood Pine. Pine is most frequently used for pallets due to a similar reason to Oak and that is due to it’s surplus from other industries.

Pine is also commonly used in pallets because softwoods tend to be more consistent in weight than hardwoods, giving the product a high strength to weight ratio. Softwoods are also easier to dry, which helps prevent contamination from fungi, molds, or other pests.

Pine is frequently used in pallets because it is a clean product that can be kiln dried without causing any damage. This makes it suitable for shipping and storing food products and pharmaceuticals. Oak is a considerably stronger material; however, to farm and fell oak just for pallets would obviously be expensive. As oak is used in a range of other products, off cuts unsuitable for furniture are sometimes available. As oak is stronger than pine, thinner boards can be cut to achieve the same level of strength.

That is the selection of material answered. You’ve got the choice of softwood and hardwood, with most wooden pallets being created using a mixture of both hardwood and softwood.

 

The Process

Now we move onto the manufacturing process of wooden pallets. The process can change depending on the type / size of pallet being made, the materials being used and whether or not it is a standard pallet or a bespoke custom made pallet.

The general process can follow a similar journey.

It starts with receiving the pallet cants from local sawmills, they are then trimmed to the proper length, ripped into boards, and then sawn into the proper-sized deck boards and stringers for whatever type of pallet is needed.

Next, notches can be cut into stringers to allow 4-way entry with forklifts or 2-way entry with pallet jacks. If the pallet will be used for international shipping or in sanitary applications, the wood may be treated prior to assembly.

Lastly, it’s time to put the pieces together. This can be done by hand with pneumatic nailers or, more commonly, by machines that can nail together and produce pallets at high volumes. There is a wide variety of machinery on the market including board stackers, pallet nailers, pallet stackers, robotic dismantlers, and saws to help maximize production and efficiency.

That is one of the common ways in which wooden pallets can be created. Bespoke pallets can follow a different process, obviously as they are custom-made to your specific requirements and dimensions. Therefore a lot more details and specific processes will have to take place in order to create your bespoke product.

Hopefully that has now clearly and simply answered the question how wooden pallets made.

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