Quality of Wood

Pallet wood is often really low-quality. It is basically the same wood as crates, but thicker. Use it for outdoor or very basic furniture which look is unimportant to you, or just build planters out of it.

Tools needed

You basically need three tools:

  • A hammer
  • Pliers
  • A resistant lever, like a wood piece, a solid broomstick or a crowbar


My first experiment took me about three hours. The second one took me around two. It is quite a long process if you want to keep the board in good shape.


Basically, you will insert the lever between two boards of the pallet and unhook the nails using gentle but strong push and pull movements.

Once you unhook the board, use the hammer and pliers to remove the nails.


  • Be careful to the width of the pallets' boards. Thin boards may not resist the lever operation and crack why you dismantle it. You will end up with small bits of wood, which may be useful to light a fire or put in the garden (beware of embedded chemicals), but not to build furniture.
  • In my opinion, the crowbar is more powerful than the broomstick. With the crowbar, you can slip in very thin spaces between the boards, whereas with the broomstick, you can only act between relatively distant boards. The crowbar also leaves more freedom on the orientation of the force, which can be important with thin boards. See next bullet point.
  • When unhooking one board from another, prefer to aplly the force in a direction parallel to the boards'fibers. Doing otherwise may induce cracks in your boards, especially around knives.
  • I try also to reuse the nails as much as possible. It can become quite tricky and time-consuming to remove them without twisting them too much. I will look for ways to untwist them quickly and easily and eventually write about it too.

Inspirational Sources

  • michka/know-hows/pallet_dismantling.txt
  • Last modified: 2014-02-04 17:04
  • by michka