How to Take Apart Shipping Pallets Without Hurting Yourself Like a Dingus

Nothing is more closely associated with “upcycling” than the lowly, splintery shipping pallet. You can get them for next to nothing and turn them into sweet boxes, benches, light stands, or put the wood towards hundreds, nay, thousands of other projects. Here’s how to pull one apart without ending up in the ER.


Jim Ether’s method requires just three tools: a hatchet, a hammer, and a Sawzall. You could probably swap the hatchet with a crowbar if you’re so inclined. Rather than rip all the boards out one at a time, Ether shimmies the shorter horizontal boards off the supports just enough to fit the blade of the Sawzall in. Cut those nails and you’re golden, no mess no fuss.

It’s a simple trick, but if almost-free furniture is your bag, this is bound to save you lots of time and more than a few injuries. Let us know how your wall-mounted whiskey shelf turns out.


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Senior reporter. Tech + labor /// Keybase: Securedrop: http://gmg7jl25ony5g7ws.onion/

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What he says in the end—you now have a pile of chemical covered splintery wood with nails in it at your disposal. Honestly, I don’t understand the whole pallet thing. Not that I haven’t seen beautiful things created out of pallets, but given the manual labor put into creating them, the marginal cost of starting with decent hardwood doesn’t seem to add a whole lot to the total build cost. And when I buy hardwoods from my sawmill, I don’t need to worry about those nails trashing my planer or jointer or saw blades, which means my project may actually get done faster and with less effort. And I don’t need to worry about what strange noxious chemicals are in the sawdust, much less the finished product. Most hardwoods nowadays are FSA-certified, which means they are responsibly harvested and replenished.