Important Essentials for Pallet Cutting

Apr 05, 2018

The easiest way to cut wood and nails on a pallet is by using a portable strapping kit with a long blade. Longer blades on reciprocating saws will help you cut through various angles. The longer the blade, the easier it will be to dismantle wood that has been nailed onto a series of slats. Tearing down a pallet can help create a surplus of boards that can be recycled for other projects. Here are essentials to understand about pallet cutting.

The Goal of Sustainability

Disassembling a pallet can be a resourceful way to recycle wood. Many companies throw away or give away pallets without realizing the value of recycling. Just because a pallet looks dirty or worn doesn't mean it can't be used again. A professional woodworker knows how to make old wood look new again by planing or sanding it. Not only will you save money by preserving or collecting used wood, you will be helping protect the environment by getting the most out of existing materials. 

Tools Needed for Pallet Cutting

  • reciprocating saw with a 12" bi-metal blade
  • alternate blade
  • hammer
  • goggles
  • gloves
  • nail set

You should also wear strong boots with solid soles so you don't slip on nails that may fall to the ground. It's a good idea to clean up nails and debris as soon as possible after cutting to avoid unnecessary accidents. 

How To Cut a Pallet

To safely cut a pallet, stand the structure on its end so the nails are parallel to the ground.  Maintain a steady position with the reciprocating saw and begin cutting downward through the nails. This saw makes it easy to cut through metal, so keep cutting until you have cut through the bottom slat, while making sure the blade does not touch the ground. If you encounter resistance this may be an indication that the blade's teeth are not sharp enough. 

Once you cut through nails it should be easy to pull the slats off one at a time. You should then be left with only the center support wood which holds the rest of the pallet together. Proceed by cutting these final nails with your saw. 

Dismantling Difficult Wood and Nails 

If the pallets are difficult to dismantle, use a hammer to help pull pieces apart. Trying to force a reciprocating saw through certain angles can damage the wood. If the goal is to preserve the wood, you will want to take a little more time, while being careful with the use of the hammer.  

When a nail breaks within the wood, use a nail set and hammer to bang out the nail. After you've removed all the nails from the wood,  sand the wood so that it will be ready as a building material when you need it. 

Cutting pallets requires a steady focus, proper gear, and cutting skills. It's important to make sure your saw blades are at their best for top performance.  For more information about pallet cutting and making sure your blades are well maintained for any project, call Echols Saw & Supply at 602-278-3918.