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I'm trying to save the wood from some wooden pallets and have been unsuccessful. I have been hammering close to where the nails are and then pry the nails out; however, before the wood comes out far enough to remove the nails it usually snaps in half. Any suggestions would be most helpful.

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7  
pallets are built from junk hardwood with tons of flaws. why are you even bothering? Cut the boards at the ends before the nails and salvage the rest. –  shirlock homes May 13 '13 at 20:15
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Junk is sometimes another's riches. There are folks that have built whole small buildings entirely from pallets!! –  Michael Karas May 14 '13 at 1:55
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Pallets are great for a lot of projects, but in my worldview, they're better if you can use them whole. If you are disassembling them, you should buy lumber instead. –  Jay Bazuzi May 14 '13 at 12:51

4 Answers 4

They make several styles of tools that are made specifically for getting nails out. One tool called a "cats paw" looks like the picture below. (You may find similar tool under other localized names). A hammer is used to pound the hooked end in under the nail head so that it can then be levered out.

enter image description here

Another type of nail puller is also very effective in that the tool is used by itself without a need for a separate hammer. The handle on this type of nail puller is used to slide up and pound dowwards to embed the jaws around the nail head. Pulling sideways in the direction of the "foot" forces the jaws to clamp tightly on the nail and pull it out.

enter image description here

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Those are good tools for regular nails, but for coated wire nails commonly used in pallets, the cats' paw will tear off the head, and the jaws on the slide hammer puller will cut the shank. –  mike Oct 9 '13 at 6:30

For the first few corners you need to cut the nails in half once you have them out a little. Dremel tool with a diamond bit might work. If you pull them out too much they do crack.

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I'd use a recip with a 12" bi-metal or carbide blade –  HerrBag May 13 '13 at 21:11
    
I think it is funny that my answer is down voted when I have done this before and many people own a dremel or something that could cut a nail. But how many people (cheap enough to want to keep a crate) own a cat's paw... whatever. And I don't understand how the cat's paw or any other nail puller won't damage the wood. –  DMoore May 14 '13 at 16:54
    
I +1 to counter the anonymous downvote. A downvote without a comment does not follow our site suggestions. I think a -1 should be reserved for BAD, dangerous, misleading answers, which is why its incumbent to comment. –  HerrBag May 14 '13 at 18:32
    
I don't mind the down vote if my suggestion is either unsafe, doesn't work, or there is a much better solution. I just thought it was odd that a solution that I have tried and does not work got a bunch of votes. If you pry the nails out too far the wood will crack. @Herr both of your cutting suggestions are valid and maybe better than mine. Just threw out what I have done from experience. I use the pallet boards for the walls of my shed... 2-3 more pallets and I am done. –  DMoore May 14 '13 at 18:35

I usually collect pallets from the street, because my parents won't buy me wood for me making stuff for my stuff, they only buy it when I'm making their stuff. For the first time I did it, it was so difficult and hard work, I had a whole day of sour muscle but 80%of the hard wood from the pallets had snapped. I recalled the memory that I did it, and found out maybe I should use a chisel and hammer it in between the two timber that are nailed together, and using the pole principle to pull them apart, then use a the end bit of the hammer and use the same pole principle to pull it out. After taking down dozens of pallets, I also had an experience about pull each nail out a bit each time so the timber won't bend and therefore snap. Never use a hammer to try hammer it out, you will damage the timber and snap it as well. Hammer the chisel in and pull it apart. here's some example of the timber I took down: these are the timber I took down and I filled the nail holes and sanded it with P40

from the front I use them to make some boxes for my stuff

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I used a FEIN saw with metal cutting blade and then a punch attached to a palm air hammer and that took out nails real fast. Very fast work taking apart a pallet no damage except where the nails were pushed back through on some that were sunken in the wood.

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FEIN appears to be a company, not a type of saw. Could you please be more specific about the type of saw you used? –  Tester101 May 2 at 10:25

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