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Do It Yourself - How to Reclaim The Wood in a Pallet

Updated on May 4, 2016


First of all, a pallet is originally used to move objects with a fork style lift. The pallets are designed so that the forks fit in a space below the objects and the forks can be inserted and the pallet moved without disturbing the objects.

When the objects are used up, sometimes this wooden pallet is now empty. What to do with it, if you don't have anything else to put on it.

The Wood

First of all, there is a lot of lumber in a pallet that can be reused if you have a few basic carpentry skills.

Warning: be aware that the wood used in pallets is mostly not planed, so there are slivers which will break off under your skin. Slivers are unpleasant, although not deadly, so just be careful.

Pallets have nails that need to be removed before you use the lumber again.


Sometimes a hammer is what you need to pry the boards loose from the nails. I'm sure that in a larger setup, one would use some sort of jack to pump the boards apart.

Perhaps a crowbar would be more effective.


If you have a bar, you can use leverage to push the boards apart. A hammer or crowbar would be a lot of work and require a bit of elbow grease to use, but it can be accomplished. You have to find the point the nails are at, wedge a board or bar between the two sides and add a block of some sort under the bar and press downwards.

The combination of leverage and weight will sometimes unpress the pallet apart.

Hammer and Short Board

I decided that a hammer and a 2 x 4 would work the best. The percussion method. You simply place the 2 x 4 against the board on the opposite side the nails are in, then, tap, tap, tap on the 2 x 4 until the nails start to weaken and give. Repeat on the middle section and tap on the other end. At this point, you can probably bend the board outwards and bend the nails over and pull them out of the other board.

A Few Caveats

Be mindful of the nails that you have not removed from the boards. As you pull more boards off, it becomes a chore to pull the nails out right away and sometimes you set the boards aside to pull nails later.

Watch out! The nails sometimes poke up and remember to not step on them with your foot. Danger. Danger.

Another thing - be careful when swinging the hammer. Sometimes, the hammer misses and you may strike yourself in the face. A pallet is not worth losing teeth or breaking a nose.

Safety first!

Idea Wasn't Mine

I was told to build flower boxes for some friends of mine, and they had seen this flower box on social media.

So, I looked at how they did their box and hopefully I can come up with two of the same.


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    • firstcookbooklady profile imageAUTHOR

      Char Milbrett 

      2 years ago from Minnesota

      We reuse ours on the job by unpacking what is received reusing the pallets to ship things out. These pallets were used to create two planter boxes with holes for plants on the sides. A lot of work, and a few injuries, for what the flower boxes look like.

    • profile image

      Pat Mills 

      2 years ago from East Chicago, Indiana

      On the job, we recycle the pallets in a different way. We simply hand them over to the drivers so they can bring more supplies our way.


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