Tips on working with reclaimed pallets

When working with reclaimed timber pallets you have to not only inspect and select the right pallets, you have to exercise caution when breaking these down. Here are some tips to keep you safe and make the job easier.

The first step is to inspect and choose the best pallets for your project. Most timber pallets are used for shipping goods around the country from manufacturer to supplier. You want to avoid pallets that are used for international shipping purposes, as these are treated with a variety of toxic chemicals that you don't want in the home.

To find pallets you can use online resources such as, or ask around at local furniture outlets or larger stores who use pallets to have goods delivered to site.

You will need some basic tools to break down the pallets into useable sections:


Claw hammer

Steel chisel

Dremel MultiMax with steel cutting blade


Gloves and safety glasses


Safety First:

When breaking down pallets you should wear gloves and safety glasses. The gloves will protect your hands from splinters from the dry, brittle wood. With safety glasses on you don't have to worry about flying bits of wood, or steel if you are cutting through nails.

The easiest method for breaking down pallets is to use a Dremel DSM 20. This tool allows you to cut sections without having to remove steel staples or nails.

If you don't own a Dremel DSM 20, you can use a hammer and chisel to break apart the timber sections.

Use the hammer and chisel to lift the planks from the supports, so that you can gain access to the wire nails or staples that hold the pallets together.

Once the pallet sections have been separated, hammer the nails at the back of the boards to give you a raised section on top, then you can use the claw hammer to lift and remove the nails.

Another handy tool to invest in if you plan to do repeated or larger pallet projects is a Dremel MultiMax. The reciprocating motion, combined with the steel cutting blade, allows you to reach between the sections and easily cut through nails or staples. 

You can also use the Dremel MultiMax to cut away the steel nails to cut down on time spent on having to remove these. 

The Dremel MultiMax easily saws through steel nails and wire staples. 

For the professional, Bosch also have an industrial reciprocating sabre saw that makes easy work of cutting through steel nails.