Pallet upcycling is all the rage today. But, if you’ve ever tried to actually remove wood planks from a pallet, you know that it is not an easy task. The nails that are used are typically spiral nails and are designed to really grip that wood. And if that’s not enough, they usually shoot 4-5 nails per joint. Sheesh, you’d think they were building a foundation for a 10 ton elephant. Okay, actually it is the foundation that has to hold tons of product as it is lifted by a fork lift. Which explains why harvesting pallet wood can be a labor intensive task.

I figured you’d appreciate it if I shared with you the quickest and easiest way I’ve found to salvage this beautifully rustic pallet wood.



Lay the pallet on a flat surface.

Set your circular saw depth to about 1/4″ beyond the pallet wood.

Saw through the pallet board close to the joint. However, make sure that you are far enough away from any nails. (It is a good idea to look underneath before you begin to cut.)

Cut along the opposite side of the board where it meets the other side board. You should have two cuts now, but the board is still nailed in the middle.

This is a good time to break out the Dremel Multi-Max. (Side note: Dremel sent this tool for me to try — and I have to say — it was a huge help for cutting through all those excess pallet nails. I really liked the tool and it fit nice in my (small female) hand. I haven’t tried any of the other attachments yet, but will be using it to cut the baseboard trim in the bonus room soon.)

The Dremel Multi-Max comes with a few attachments, but you can buy other attachments as needed. Check out the Dremel accessory finder to figure out which bit or blade you need for your specific project.

To install the cutting blade, remove the collet nut on the Multi-max with an allen wrench (1). Loosen the nut until you can slip the wood & metal blade underneath.Line the pins up with the holes in the blade (2). Tighten the collet nut on the Multi-Max.

Insert the Multi-max blade flush with the bottom of the pallet wood. Let the blade saw through the nails. Don’t force or rock the Multi-Max.  (I was able to cut through the outer nails, but couldn’t reach the inner ones.)

Hammer a pry bar under the edge of the loosened board. Pry up the edge a little.

Slip a hammer underneath the pried up side and slide the crow bar into the opposite side of the board. Gently rock the hammer and crow bar outward to lift the board free.

To remove nails still in the pallet board, turn the board upside down (1). Hammer the nail through the board (2). Flip the board right side up and use the claw on the hammer to pry up the nail (3).

After a few hours I had amassed quite a collection of pallet boards and scrap wood from the shop. I used ALL of it in this project.

Stay tuned!

Read more tips on harvesting  pallet wood on Instructables.

Disclosure: Dremel sent me the Multi-Max to try out in a product review. I was not compensated to write this post, nor was I told what to write or how to use the tool. All opinions and instructions are my own.

327 replies
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  1. Toolpro
    Toolpro says:

    I repair beds as a profession and the most effortless approach to get your boards with no prying required is with a recipricating saw with a long bI-metal cutting edge

  2. Frederick
    Frederick says:

    Aw, this was an incredibly good post. Finding the time and actual effort to make a good article… but what can I say… I put
    things off a lot and never manage to get nearly anything done.

  3. Ben Watson
    Ben Watson says:

    I repair pallets for a living and the easiest way to get your planks with no prying needed is with a recipricating saw with a long bI-metal blade

  4. Liam
    Liam says:

    A tip for those afraid of circular saw hitting nails: use a sawzall with a demo blade for cutting
    both wood AND metal, get a nice long one and zip through this project. Then its a lot easier to trim out the boards and see any nails/metal left on a flat board. You can get a generic multitool instead of the dremel for less.


Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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