Taking apart Pallets is Hard Work


6 Years
Aug 18, 2013
Albuquerque, NM
Just whining.

See, I saw all these threads about using the wood from pallets to make a coop, and I want to upgrade from my repurposed doghouse to a "real" coop. My mind became full of ideas, but, alas, my bank account did not become full of cash. So I thought I would make my own. But, I have no carpentry skills or knowledge and I am a middle-aged woman who is afraid of power tools. I was brave. I bought a (very cheap) circular saw and read the manual. I attached the blade and leveled it and whatever - even turned it on. Haven't sawn anything yet, because I need to disassemble the pallet for the wood.

See, I watched all these youtube videos (because youtube is the be-all and end-all) and got my little baby crowbar and hammer . . .

And it's HARD. Those blasted nails have threads! I have wrenched out nails before and thought these would be normal nails. The wood eventually pulls off leaving the nails still imbedded in the base board, with holes large enough for the nail head to fit through. Or, eventually, the nails break from the effort of my wrenching at them. Wowsa. Is it supposed to be this difficult, or am I a wimp? Got two boards off and I am having a break with a cold drink.
Trust me, you are no wimp. I've had young, strong men try to disassemble them- without much more luck than me. And I'm a middle....pushing senior aged woman and I do have experience with power tools. Trouble I have with them is, I'm not very big! I have no idea how those u-tube ppl do it. Unless they have bright, shiny, never been left out in the elements or actually used for anything pallets! They might be easier, slightly, maybe. But they are probably also not free. I have on several occasions made sort of coop things out of whole pallets. Lean-to affairs that I put tarps on. They are more temp shelters then coops. Anyway, good luck with your project! I'm sure you'll figure it out somehow.
Once my boards are seperated I hammerone the pointed end of the nail enough the have it sticking out enough on opposite to get hammer or whatever under the head and go from there. Some people use a sawzall and just cut through them. I don't have the funds for one so I wrenched, pounded and pried. Oh, I'm a older woman also. Plenty of cussing, some blood and bruises but coops done except for little things. You can do it. Keep extension cords and tool cords away from feet or you'll trip. Hold nails with pliers till started, saves the fingers and find one good employee at your hardware or homedepot who does not think that because we don't have testicles we can't do it. Or come on here and ask questions. We ll be glad to answer questions.

These are the evil nails. It's blurry because it's too close, but see that twisty part? And they don't even have points! How did they get them in there? Five boards off. Making progress, Slowly.
Yep. Awful nails. I think easier to pound than pull. Lol. Just keep thinking of how nice the coop will be when done.

These are the evil nails. It's blurry because it's too close, but see that twisty part? And they don't even have points! How did they get them in there? Five boards off. Making progress, Slowly.

The shoot them in with a big, scarey pneumatic nailgun. Usually, not only are they threaded, but they're also coated to make them stick better. Be proud of yourself for any progress you make!
The quickest way I have found is either a sawzall and cut the nail between the boards... Or I made a pallet busting tool... Like this

Also when i made my coop I used the whole pallet for the walls stood on the end. Pictures in my profile and I then ripped pallet boards to fill the gaps.

Less pallets to tear appart.
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I have crowbar envy. I think I need to get me one of those things. Give me a little more leverage than my 12 inch "power bar"
I was having a lot of trouble with pallets as well. After a LOT of frustration, I went with a small prybar, like this:

but rather than Using it to pull the nails, I used the "V" on the end to cut the nails. Just tap the bar between the boards until it reaches a nail, then give it one solid hit with the hammer (be VERY CAREFUL if you don't hit dead on, the prybar MIGHT pop out) It will usually cut the nail on the first shot. I go down one side, up the other and then take out the nails in the middle. Once that is done I tap them out with my hammer far enough to pill the last bit of remaining nail out of each board.

I can disassemble a pallet in about 10 minutes this way, then another 10 minutes to pull the nail ends out of the boards...not sure if it is the safest method, but it works, I can get apart 2 or 3 before my back starts to hate me....

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