To Cleanse The Pallet

The pallet train is an easy one to jump on.  We sure did.  In one of our first posts, we discussed the possibility of creating flooring out of these prized wooden wonders.  We’re still game if it works, but we’ve learned there’s a bit more behind the easy breezy DIY facade.

I give BIG props to my mama on this one.  She decided the pallet situation was one she could tackle from her station in Charlottesville, VA.  The plan was pretty simple. She would go around collecting free and for adoption pallets, bust ’em apart, and bring us down a car load with each visit.  But as often happens with this lady, she nerded out and did some crazy research.  She started with the internet, but anyone can do that and her forte is more old school data collection.  I try not to ask too many questions, but alls I know is she tracked down experts within the field of pallet and contacted them directly. No electronic mail correspondence for her. Straight up, 10 digit phone calls. images

So, here’s the deal on wooden pallets:

If discolored brown, grey or green-more likely unsafe, do not use

If constructed before 2001-likely to have been treated with formaldehyde, do not use

If coded MB-treated with methylbromide, not safe, do not use

If coded HT-heat treated, probably safe

If you’re lucky enough to find a heat treated pallet, manufactured after 2001 and in relatively good condition, you’ve got a great start, but the challenge isn’t over.  Apparently, the deconstruction is not a walk in the park.  The wood splits easily and yet it takes some (wo)man power to bust them apart. images

My recommendation would be to connect with a business that is using pallets for food transportation.  The switch to heat treated pallets came about as a way to move edibles without parasite invasion, but also without exposure to harsh chemicals.  Mama bear has been picking up the best ones from a local brewery which uses pallets to bring in loads of hops.

I’m hopeful that some of these worn and weary wooden travelers will make it into our home aesthetic, but if not, no bigs.  If you’ve got any pallet knowledge to impart, feel free to toss it in.

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10 thoughts on “To Cleanse The Pallet

    1. She’s a good one. I was actually going to e-mail you Kim…my mom thought the floors in yall’s house (part of them at least) were bamboo? Do you remember pricing?

      1. Yes, we have bamboo. I don’t remember the price but it changes anyway. Feel free to email for more info.

  1. I am new to the pallet frenzy and my husband and I took apart our 1st pallet this week. WOW!!! my muscles still hurt. I found that a skill saw is helpful if you are wanting to shorten the width of the project by cutting away from the nails. I do believe those nails are made for Kryptonite.

    1. A workout indeed. I don’t think we will do an entire floor of them, but we may make some shallow shelving with the the pieces we’ve got. Good thinking on the skill saw!

  2. Easy Pallet Separation Really. I have been in the Pallet up cycling for less than a year. My research confirms much of the same however please know that there are many people trying to scare people away from using pallets with big mis-statements or execrations.
    After separating many pallets with removal of all nails using Wonder Bars, Hammers and other typical hand tools I found http://www.pallet-repair.com/supplies/dismantling-bar.aspx and http://www.Cargo-cycles.com as well as some other links which I have pasted a couple below. The beauty of these simple tools is that they reduced my separation time to about a minute leaving planks with straight nails which may be easily removed. I stand over a large trash barrel to pound out ant pull the nails which is much easier with non-bent over nails from the old method. Another great attribute of these tools is usable yield from planks or stringers breaking while separating dramatically increased. Now my broken planks are the ones that I know are broken.

    I bought the one from http://www.pallet-repair.com/supplies/dismantling-bar.aspx As I don’t weld nor do I know a welder. One the blogs I saw was one actually showing where guy gathered scrap and had a welder put it together. It is a simple tool, it’s just the length of the lever and the strength of the material. I would have preferred the http://www.Cargo-cycles.com version as it has an end designed to straddle the four inch wide stringers as wells as an end to straddle the 2 inch stringers.

    Yes, I spent some money for the tool but my productivity picked up dramatically.
    Have Pallets delivered to you. I have met business owners such as a bedding retailer that receives product on pallets which the wholesalers do not take back. The mess is such that these folks now drop pallets on my driveway and I pay nothing.

    Thus, I am now making all sorts of stuff from this free material. I wish y’all well.
    http://overthegate.myfreeforum.org/viewtopic.php?t=21415&start=0
    http://makezine.com/2012/05/08/pallet-disassembly-tools/

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