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I have broken down a few shipping pallets, in my time. Most recently, I used pallet demolition to test out a Stanley FatMax Fubar they sent me for review. Each time, I am surprised at how much work is involved. Modern shipping pallets are tough and well-made, and do not come apart easily.

If I had to do it very often, I would spring for a purpose-made tool. Several commercial models can be found for sale online using Googlons like “pallet buster” and “deck wrecker,” but I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for the maker-made Pallet Reclamation Bar from Cargo Cycles of Norwich. As you can see in the video, it’s a heavy tool, and if you’re not in the UK shipping may be prohibitive. If you know your way around a welder, it would not be too difficult to build something similar yourself. The key features seem to be:

  1. A long handle to provide plenty of leverage and allow you to work from a standing position.
  2. One or more forks, each having two tines that can wrap around a stringer and pry on both sides at once against a board nailed on top.
  3. A narrow fork for prying around nominal 2″ stringers, and a wide fork for prying around nominal 4″ stringers.

The Cargo Cycle Pallet Reclamation Bar does not seem to have a dedicated web presence, but its design, development, and construction are detailed in the linked thread, below, at British country living forum Over the Gate, and the video includes e-mail and telephone contact points for interested buyers.

Over the Gate :: reclaim timber from old pallets


Sean Michael Ragan

Sean Michael Ragan

I am descended from 5,000 generations of tool-using primates. Also, I went to college and stuff. I am a long-time contributor to MAKE magazine and My work has also appeared in ReadyMade, c’t – Magazin für Computertechnik, and The Wall Street Journal.

16 Responses to Pallet Reclamation Bars

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  5. Sail Boffin on said:

    I’m a little disappointed in you guys. I needed a similar tool to remove some deck boards from a roof in reasonable shape so I could reuse them. I didn’t have a week to order a tool like that, couldn’t find it locally and didn’t think it was worth the hundred or so bucks it would cost so with a bit of scrap pipe I made these

  6. goreshade on said:

    The hardest part to me is getting the nails out. I have a pallet with spiral shanked nails that literally tear apart rather than pull out.

    • One might as well not even try to remove the nails. I sometimes cut them flush with a sawzall. If I’m making a rustic item like a table or whatever, I leave the nail heads in or you can use a punch and hammer to remove what’s left. They’re definitely a beast and have an iron grip on the wood, especially with oak pallets.

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