Monday, July 21, 2014

The Problem with Pallets No One Told Me

In a somewhat round about way, I came be in possession of a few rickety wooden pallets.  Pinterest has one zillion DIY pallet projects that all appear to be fairly straight forward.  I feel fairly comfortable with power tools.  What's the problem?

theproblemwithpallets

Well, the problem is that in order to tear the pallet apart,  I'd need to employ Joe Manganiello, all the Duggar children, and the Incredible Hulk!  Even still, the probability of getting a single board free if damage is 0.00! Those boards are on there with multiple bent nails that just DO NOT WANT TO COME OFF!  AND each board is affixed at three different points.  When, by some miracle, I was able to wrestle a single point free, the darn thing would split somewhere else.  In other words, free lumber ain't free.

So there you have it. The problem with pinterest pallet projects.  Perhaps this is mentioned elsewhere and I've just missed it?  I know I've seen the mention of there being "some effort" involved in getting them apart but there always seemed to be more attention to paid to the conversation about where to find them or to make sure they were chemical free.  At no point did I remember reading about how I'd be kneeling in my front yard sweating like an animal and wrestling with an unreasonable chunk of wood! You've heard it here first folks!

Or perhaps I just got saddled with the meanest pallets in all the land?  Either way, I figured it was worth a mention for those you out there thinking of starting your own pallet projects. I know many of you have used pallets in your own projects - what have our experiences been?

All that said, I just can't bring myself to just chuck it either.  This one looks so pretty just waiting to be put to good use so I MUST find something to do with it.  I just can't quite think of anything practical for me that allows me to keep it intact and/or go at it with a saw so that sawing off all the nails isn't a deal breaker (keep in mind this one has a center support). What do you think?

33 comments:

  1. Oh no! I feel your pain! I have had a really beautifully old weathered pallet fall apart on me for the same reason. I eventually got some usable planks by using a mallet and wedge between and hammering for my life then prising gently. Some of the planks were just too old though, looks like yours might be too. You could salvage some of the wood by sawing down either end and down either side of the middle, and you could make some smaller wall hangings perhaps? The wood looks like it would be beautiful for that kind of project?

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    1. Yes, I think maybe my pallet is too old. You can see they are splitting at the ends so a mallet is going to put it right over the edge but the wood is the perfect weathered gray which is why its so hard to throw away. First world problems for sure!

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    2. I think they look cool when they are pieced back together. Even if they split lengthwise when you dismantle the ends can still be nailed back down to a support board. When I've built with pallet wood, I've actually used the holes from the old nails (those board are hard and can be difficult to nail into lol) as long as you use a nail with a good size head on it they will hold fast.

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    3. If you're willing to sacrifice an inch on each end, cut the ends off. Then you only have to deal with the nails in the middle. They make a screw extractor that fits in a drill and saws a hole around the screw (nail). Free the board from the nails then plug the holes. Much easier than trying to extract twist-shank nails.

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  2. I feel your pain, and only tried it once at work. What about a sawzall

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    1. Ive only used a sawzall once but the blade was pretty thick...not thin enough to get between the boards. I wonder maybe there is a different kind or a different attachment I could use?

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    2. We use a sawzall. On a couple of the boards there was slight damage to the cut side that was easily removed with a little sanding. Because the nails are cut, in most of them the rusty old nail heads were still in the wood. I love the look and have been known to glue loose nail heads back into place lol I'm not sure how thick your blade was but the ones we picked up at Home Depot was the same thickness as our skil saw. I sent you a facebook message with pic of the hutch I made for my dining room.

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  3. My hubby is a building contractor & I recently saw several pallets in his dumpster. I told him that some young girls would be dumpster diving to get those things! I love the look of aged wood...but no thanks!...I'll leave the pallet dis assembly to someone else! Have fun with that! :) Plus...you never know where those things have been!!!

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  4. Yep, they are impossible to get apart:( lol

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  5. :( There goes my idea for a pallet wall garden!

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  6. Here's the trick: Sawzall reciprocating saw with blade for nail embedded wood. prying thos jokers loose is a no go!

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    1. Thanks Alanna. Is it a special blade? The sawzall I've used had a much thicker blade than could possibly fit between the boards.

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  7. I grew up on a farm, and we used pallets all the time. I would not use them in projects, because of the warped/split wood, difficulty getting apart, etc. But, if you do want to use them, I'd second or third the suggestion for the sawzall. Good luck, and I'm sure your project will look great if you decide to forge ahead!

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  8. My husband is in the pallet business and the 'some diffaculty' in the pintrest projects has always made me laugh. In the pallet yard they use a saws all to remove the stringers from the blocks and they still can't salvage the entire pallet. I truly belive most of those projects are made with distressed new lumber.

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    1. If that is the case then that is just mean to say they were made with pallets. I seriously hope that is not true for humanity's sake :)

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  9. Our wood pellets for our pellet stove come on pallets - we buy them by the ton once a year. So after 25 winters of using our stove we have quite a few pallets around. I want to build a compost bin with them. Most of the projects I've seen that I like keep the pallets intact for the most part. I've never tried to take one apart.

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  10. Okay - we have one of those shipping container additions and we covered the entire ceiling in pallet wood. Which means we took apart 170+ pallets. Here goes - get a skill saw and chop off the ends - cutting your prying of nails down to a third. if you only need short boards, cut the middle as well. We had some XL pallets and got a bunch of beautiful 6 ft runs of oak and redwood. It really is worth it, though it is a ton of work. It is the prettiest wood to work with and I have done side projects galore with what is left over.

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    1. I have to ask - what is a shipping container addition? If its what I think it is, that sounds pretty awesome. I bow down to you for being able to make a roof out of these suckers.

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    2. This sounds amazing- is there somewhere we could see both the shipping container addition and the pallet ceiling?!

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  11. You might enjoy these ideas.

    http://blog.paintedfurniturebarn.com/2014/03/pallet-pallet-whose-got-the-pallet-5-ways-to-recycle-wooden-shipping-pallets/

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    1. Building a bonfire sounds like a good idea right about now :)

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  12. I've seen some guy on Youtube who built a contraption that he says makes it easy to pry the boards off the pallet. I don't know how good it works. He, of course, swears by it.

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  13. back in my days as a window dresser, the company I worked for had a thing for pallets. I loathed them. Every day I'd be lugging them about to different parts of the shop, for various displays. Swearing under my breath the whole time. They ARE impossible to dismantle, but when you don't want them too, the swines crack up and fall apart, splintery shards going everywhere.

    So now, I avoid them like the plague. Yep, they have a rustic elegance that is so nice to behold, but they are far too much trouble! I look at the photos, think 'that looks nice' then move on swiftly!

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    1. Oh having to use these for work would definitely boil my blood. At least I have the luxury of walking away.

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  14. Let me tell you!! I have been wrestling with these sumbitches for a few months now. I have three very important tools- a crowbar, a mallet, and a hacksaw. Use the crowbar and mallet to loosen the boards a bit, then you can fit the hacksaw in to saw through the nails.

    Sometimes the crowbar is enough, and sometimes you can loosen the board enough to get the head of the nail up, then mallet the board back down so that the nailhead can be crowbarred out. It's a motherlover of a job, but it's kind of satisfying.

    You'll need to get a new hacksaw blade for each pallet just about though. I agree- these Pinterest jerks make it look lalala easy, so thanks for helping to spread the truth!

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  15. I heard somewhere that you should never pick up pallets from the side of the road. They could have been used in chemical plants and you just never know. Don't bring them inside if you don't know where they were housed originally.

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  16. Laughing at your description of working with a pallet!!! Been there, sweating like an animal. With a sawsall and a nail cutting blade and a husband with patience and a small crowbar, I was able to get enough boards for a project. Project-great. The blood, sweat, tears and splinters were NOT mentioned on Pinterest!!!

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  17. This is what you need right here, Pallet Pal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jkKFGIjPSvI

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  18. Donna from Funky Junk Interiors has a post taking them apart: http://www.funkyjunkinteriors.net/2011/04/all-you-ever-wanted-to-know-about.html. She also says that she uses a jigsaw, "I look for wood that has a wide enough run, then saw it just shy of the nails." Good luck!

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  19. sawzall the nails at the back of the pallet ��

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  20. I've tried tearing them apart with no luck, but I've had friends who swore a sawzaw worked wonders. There's also a chart floating around on pinterest of all the different types of pallets there are, some are easier to take apart then others, I haven't been brave enough to take another pallet home since the first flop.

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  21. We use pallets in all of our furniture pieces and they are definitely a bitch to get apart! Because we need so many, we actually work with a local pallet Co that takes them apart and gives us just the boards so we don't have to do it and we know where they came from. Shoot me an email if you are interested in me sending you some, we have about 700 in the shop right now and would be happy to share a few lol

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