How to Take Apart a Pallet: Demolition Blade Pros and Cons

Before you do pallet crafts, you often have to figure out how to take apart a pallet. If you’re considering a demolition blade, here are the pros and cons.

How to Take Apart a Pallet: Demolition Blade Pros and Cons

If you’re a fan of wooden pallet crafts, then you’ve certainly come across the one perennial hitch in your project plans:

First, you’ve got to figure out how to take apart a pallet. Sigh…

You can use a hammer and crowbar, but that process takes a while, uses lots of muscle, and usually involves accidentally splitting some of the planks, meaning that you may have to take apart a second pallet to get all the scrap wood that you need.

My preferred method is a demolition blade in a reciprocating saw. This, too, however, has its cons, and you may find that it’s actually not the method for you. Here, then, are the pros and cons of using a demolition blade in a reciprocating saw to dismantle a pallet:

CON: A demolition blade and reciprocating saw cost more money than a crowbar and a hammer. However, you can use the demolition blade for lots of cool, heavy-duty projects, and the reciprocating saw, of course, for even more.

using my demolition blade to take apart a palletPRO: It’s easier to dismantle a pallet with a demolition blade than a crowbar. It’s quicker, too! Mind you, that’s not to say that it’s 100% easy to use the demolition blade: the reciprocating saw is pretty heavy, and using it subjects your arms to a hell of a vibration. For some reason, as well, whether it has to do with the muscle that he brings to the project or his form, my husband can saw through a pallet a LOT faster than I can. It can take me a couple of minutes to make a single cut through the nails holding a particular plank, whereas he can get the entire plank free in that same amount of time.

Nevertheless, it would take me half the day to get the same pallet broken down with a hammer and a crowbar, so there’s that.

PRO: A demolition blade keeps the wood in better shape. This is really important in avoiding waste, since I can rarely use a split pallet plank for my wood pallet projects:

Dismantle a Pallet with a Demolition Blade
Can anyone see the rookie mistake that I’m making here? I would be banned from all diligent worksites!

CON: A demolition blade keeps the nails in the wood. This is actually a really big deal and can easily be the reason why you would choose to dismantle a pallet manually. You see, the demolition blade cuts right through the nails holding the pallet together, which means that the pallet comes apart, but the nails remain embedded where they are. When you later work with those planks, you have to remember that there are nails in there, and those nails will affect where you place your new nails and screws. With the type of work that I tend to do, this isn’t necessarily dangerous to me–I’m not worried that my circular saw is going to rebound against it and come up and cut my face off or anything–BUT it can do some serious damage to my equipment, if I’m not careful.

For that reason, I don’t tend to put pallet wood in with the children’s supply of scrap wood that they can create freely with; when they work with pallet wood, I need to be there at least at the beginning of their project to mark possible nails for them and remind them of how to work around them.

So there you have it! Once again, it turns out that one tool isn’t always the best tool in every single circumstance. If you’ve got a pro or con to add, feel free to do in the comments below. I’d also love to hear your favorite method for how to take apart a pallet!

Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life; my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties; and my for links to articles about poverty, educational politics, and this famous cat who lives in my neighborhood.

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