I picked up some more pallets today so had a bit more deconstruction to attend to before turning to putting new things together. I’d done a bit more research on taking pallets apart and I was keen to try out another technique to maximise the yield of clean, unbroken wood.
It turns out that one of the best tools for breaking down a pallet is a second pallet that has already been split up. More strictly, what you need are two or three solid wooden planks so there isn’t necessarily a bootstrapping problem (ie. how do you break apart that first pallet) but, since I finished several yesterday, I had the perfect materials readily on hand. Here is the video I got the idea from:
The trick is all about leverage. By placing two boards in a V terminating underneath the plank you are trying to take out and using the planks on either side to give a pair of fulcrums, you can generate a strong but even force easing the plank up. Sometimes one board is enough but sometimes you need an extra one (creating an extra leverage point to get the ones at the end) but it works pretty well. You still need a clawhammer to remove nails but that is a pleasantly low tool requirement.
I didn’t get the completely split free results promised in the video but the results were still better (quicker and cleaner) than the two I did yesterday, which in turn were much quicker and cleaner than the one I took apart earlier in the week (albeit hampered by the weather keeping me in the shed and preventing me laying them flat). Make a start and learn as you go… which applies to many more things than just breaking up old pallets!