The Easy Way to Take Pallets Apart Plus Where to Find the Tools You'll Need

palletsIn the last few years, upcycling pallets has become extremely popular. And why not? Many businesses will give them away, so it’s basically free lumber. If you like the rustic look, DIY pallet projects will fit right in with your decor. And if not, a little paint goes a long way.

I absolutely love the variety of projects that can be made from pallets. I even have a rather large Pinterest board dedicated to pallet projects! We’ve used reclaimed pallets to build raised planters, and the floor of our chicken coop. Right now we’re working on a fence, a boardwalk, and a deck.

Ripping apart pallets is a bit of a challenge. We struggled through our first few projects, so I’m sharing what didn’t work, and the method we finally figured out would let us rip apart a pallet in about 5 minutes.

Taking pallets apart can be done in 5 minutes or less with this method. Plus upcycling will save you money and is good for the environment!Click To Tweet

What Didn’t Work

palletsOur first project was a set of raised planters. This meant taking the pallets apart and repositioning the boards so there were no gaps. Otherwise, any soil we put in wouldn’t have stayed in the planter.



My first attempt at taking apart a pallet involved using a hammer to pry the nails out of the pallets. This did not work because all I ended up doing was splitting the lumber. It wasn’t very useful after that. My husband next suggested I try a hacksaw to cut through the nails. This worked a little better, as the lumber was still usable. But it was incredibly tedious and time-consuming. My arms were also wearing out pretty fast. There had to be a better way.

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The Easiest Way to Take Pallets Apart

palletsAfter doing some research and talking to other who had done it, we finally found a quick and easy method that didn’t destroy the lumber. Using a reciprocating saw fitted with a blade for cutting metal, we could now take pallets apart quickly and easily. (If you need a saw, Amazon has a great variety for every budget.) We still needed to play around with the method a little bit to figure out the most efficient way to do the job. Eventually we got the process down to about 5 minutes per pallet. Here’s our method, with the bugs worked out:

  1. Be sure to wear proper safety gear. At the very least, use gloves and eye protection. Also make sure you aren’t wearing loose clothing that could get caught in the saw blade..
  2. Set up your reciprocating saw. Make sure the blade that you use is designed to cut metal. Charge your batteries if your saw is cordless, or get your extension cord in place if it’s corded.
  3. You can tear apart your pallet if it’s laying down, but I’ve found that the easiest way is to stand it up. A second person is helpful, but not necessary. Make sure everyone keeps their hands, arms, legs, and feet clear of the moving blade.pallets
  4. Position your saw to cut through the outside nails first. I like to cut all the way down one side, and then the other. Then I’ll turn it around or over and repeat. Once the outer board are removed, it’s much easier to get to the center nails.
  5. Next you’ll cut through the nails in the center. Again, a second person is helpful to catch the boards as they come loose, but not absolutely necessary. Flip it around and repeat.
  6. Start your project with all that reclaimed lumber!
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Final Thoughts

Upcycling pallets is a great way to save money and do something good for the environment. The possibilities are endless, and hopefully this tutorial will make it a little easier for you.

What’s your favorite pallet project? Share in the comments below!

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