How to Take Apart a Pallet Without Using Power Tools

Hometalk Skills
by Hometalk Skills
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How to Take Apart a Pallet Without Power Tools

Regular visitors to Hometalk will be aware of how useful pallets and the wood they are made from can be around the home. However, one obstacle you may face when looking to start a project is figuring out how to dismantle them to meet your needs.

Fortunately, the process can be quite simple and – best of all – you do not need to have access to power tools to make it happen. Here we take a look at how to take apart a pallet in just five steps and use the wood for any of your DIY plans.

Tools and Materials

  • Hammer
  • Bolster
  • Pry bar
  • Crowbar
  • Gloves
  • Safety goggles

Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Materials

As with any project, the first – and probably most important – step is to ensure you have everything you need to do the job. I gathered together all of my tools and the pallets I was dismantling so that I knew I had everything that was required. This meant I had a clear overview of the project from the outset and also could go and purchase anything else I needed before I got started.

Step 2: Loosen Any Nails in the Pallet

Once I had my safety goggles and durable gloves on, I got to work with determining how to take apart a pallet. It is important to loosen the nails when taking apart pallets, so I placed the pallet on a flat surface and then used a bolster and hammer to tackle the issue. I placed my bolster underneath each plank and then tapped it with a hammer to lift the wood up. I repeated the process across every part of the wood where nails were present.

Step 3: Using a Pry Bar, Lift the Planks

Once the nails have been fully loosened, you should be able to slide a pry bar underneath the planks. With little effort, I was able to easily use the tool to remove the individual planks from the pallet structure. This might require a little bit of force, but if the nails have been loosened enough it should be straightforward. Of course, this process will expose the nails, so take care not to hurt yourself when handling the planks you have removed.

Step 4: Remove Nails in the Planks

The next key step in how to take apart a pallet is to remove the nails from the individual planks. I did this by simply tapping the nails back through the wood with a hammer, before then using the claw part of the tool to pull them out. As with the previous step, this process means you’re in close contact with exposed nails, so take them out immediately and avoid leaning or placing your hands on them.

Step 5: Remove the Blocks of Wood on the Bottom of Your Pallet

Once I had removed all of the planks from the pallet, I was left with the bottom planks which each have three small wooden blocks on them. These are vital to the structure of the pallet, but can also be quite tricky to get rid of. I turned to my crowbar at this point, driving it underneath the blocks using a hammer while holding the plank of wood in place with my foot. I then used the crowbar as a lever for lifting the blocks off the wood, while I also removed the nails which were left exposed at the first opportunity.

Taking apart pallets is a great way to gather wood for DIY projects, whether you’re planning to build a table or are even looking to incorporate them into the design of other structures like shoe racks. Best of all, as I have shown above, the process is not complicated and you can tackle it easily without the use of any form of power tools.

This is the best way to take apart a pallet using a classic combination of tools and it would be fantastic to get your views on this tutorial in the comments section below. Furthermore, let me know what you’re planning to use the wood for once you have dismantled your pallets.

Frequently asked questions
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  1 question
  • JJ JJ on Dec 12, 2019

    Where do you get your pallets?

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2 of 15 comments
  • Mary Russell Mary Russell on Dec 12, 2020

    Right off he starts hammering on a steel chisel with a CLAW hammer.First I would never beat on a tempered steel surface such as this with anything but my brass mallet,but definitely never with my nail driver.They at least make ball peen,or hand sledges for this.Second, I've confronted many pallets that you couldn't get apart with a jack hammer much less those small pry bars.I've got some four foot long industrial pry/crow bars that will not take some apart.I've broken nails,drilled down beside nails and tried every way imaginable to get some of the longer ones apart,and make sure all the nails are removed.I've finally decided,for me it's just not worth the hassle.I just go to the sawmill,buy what I wan't, and plain down for whatever use ,or need.

  • Angie Angie on Feb 06, 2023

    I want to build a privacy fence for my dogs so they will quit knocking my neighbors privacy fence down!