Whether you’re a DIY fanatic searching for your next woodworking project or a small business owner looking to save on pallet costs, knowing how to prepare and re-use wooden pallets opens up a world of high-quality timber at your fingertips.
It’s easy to find free wooden pallets outside grocery stores or hardware stores to salvage for commercial use or upcycling, but how do you take that sturdy wooden pallet from trash to treasure? Before you rush to the nearest construction site or supply store, check out these four tips to get the best out of your next pallet project.
As a family-owned and -operated pallet manufacturer with over 40 years of experience meeting our customers’ pallet needs, Unaka Forest Products offers high-quality pallets at reasonable prices directly to you with no middleman! Call our Jonesborough, TN, experts today at (423) 753-7907 for a quote.
1. Find the Right One
Large sawmills often construct pallets from low-quality wood, the pallets go through a lot of wear and tear before someone dumps them outside your local supply store. Take your time to sort through the pallets to find the right quality pallet for your needs. Warped or broken wood won’t do you much good, so be discerning while you scavenge.
2. Check the Stamp
Every new pallet undergoes a treatment to get rid of pests, such as insects and fungus. Depending on the type of treatments, your pallets will come with one of several stamps or marks, each with a different meaning:
- HT – Heat-treated to remove parasites; safe to handle without protective gear
- MB – Chemically treated with methyl bromide, which makes it toxic and unsuitable for home or DIY use
- KD – Kiln-dried to prevent fungal growth; safe to handle without protective gear
Most U.S.-based manufacturers heat treat pallets instead of chemically treating them, which means that most of the pallets you find will be safe to use.
3. Clean and Prep Your Pallet
Pallets spend most of their time in warehouses, on trains, trucks, and ships, and in other grimy areas. Because they accumulate a lot of dust and grime in their lifetime, your first step should be to clean that grime off.
Use warm, soapy water to wipe off the surface grime, and then use an orbital sander to remove the worst of the spills and stains. Avoid over-sanding! You still want to retain some of the wood’s character and texture.
Cleaning your pallet first thing after you bring it home means that you can disassemble and use the pallet for your DIY project safely without worrying about germs or toxic chemicals.
4. Disassemble the Pallet
Depending on the tools you have, pallet disassembly can be extremely easy or pretty challenging. Most disassembly methods don’t require power tools, especially if you use a deck wrecker or pallet buster. You can purchase either of these long, pronged metal tools designed to disassemble wood at most hardware stores. But if you don’t have specialized equipment, you can use a pry bar and hammer to manually remove the nails and secure boards upon boards of quality wood.
If you have the tools and want to skip the manual labor, you can also use a cordless saw to cut all the boards along the rails. This method saves a lot of time and effort, but it is more wasteful because you will cut away some quality, usable wood during disassembly.
No matter what method you choose, always make sure to wear safety goggles and heavy-duty gloves while you work.
Whether you’re embarking on a new DIY project or running a commercial business, using sturdy, high-quality pallets is a necessity. Instead of relying on hardware stores or distribution centers, why not go straight to the experts? Call Unaka Forest Products in Jonesborough, TN, at (423) 753-9576 for a quote for new wooden pallets today!