This process of reclaiming wood is truly demanding. Not only collecting pallets, but braking them down and de-nailing boards is something that requires hard work and some tools. First of all, not all pallet wood is good to work with.
Ones that have a symbol HT, which means “Heat Treated” are safe, try to avoid MB- this stands for chemical treatment with “Methyl Bromide”- that means there are some chemicals in the wood and they can be potentially dangerous. When you cut them, sand them-loads of small particles become airborne, not a good thing though, just avoid using them all together.
It is not too difficult to get pallets, most of the stores and businesses have tons of them, and quite often they will be happy to get rid off some of them, especially ones that are broken or damaged.
On the picture to the right, you can see couple of electric saws, the green one is especially useful. Now, you can see tons of videos on YouTube of how to break a pallet, but from my own experience using this reciprocating saw to cut nails is the best idea so far. It is a good practise to use a pry bar to make a little room between the boards, so the blade can work easily, this saw cuts through the thick nails like butter.
Next step is taking the nails out. I try to rescue as much of the boards as I can, and pull the nails out later. Some come out easily, some-not at all. Some nails are so deep, that if you flip the board and hammer through with the puncher the head of the nail will damage the surface of the board. My advice- leave them in, if you build rustic projects, this little rust and dark nail hole will look awesome after staining it.
These pictures below show how a nail head pops through and breaks off some surface. It is kind of counter productive saving the entire length of the board, to damage it at the very end.
You can always deal with something like that while getting your project together, many times you will need to cut to length, so play around and cut the parts that are damaged or have too many nails to pull them all.
And this is the effect of 5 hours of prep labour.
This is fair amount of really nice wood, there is quite a few things you can build out of this amount of wood and all it cost me was 5 hours of work. We`ll see what comes up out of this, I will keep you posted.