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The Green Initiative (Part II)

Saturday, August 22nd, 2009


Take an ordinary Oak pallet for example (Figure 1). This pallet has seen years of rugged use but with a little elbow grease and sweat equity any woodworker can transform an ugly pallet such as this into a beautiful piece of furniture or decorative accent that, when completed, already looks like 100 years old. Using "found wood" requires extra work and may result in an untimely dull blade or nick in a jointer or planer blade, but with proper preparation these issues can be minimized.


My pallet was nailed together with coated screw nails which made it nearly impossible to disassemble without breaking the coveted slats. So much for the traditional hammer and pry bar technique. Another approach was necessary to ensure maximum lumber yield. First, I cut up the pallet using my Sawzall into manageable pieces (Figure 2). After switching to a metal cutting blade I cut the nails between the slat and remaining cross member. Lastly, using a small punch, I drove the nails out of the wood slats. This technique certainly took more time but I was able to salvage every slat on the pallet (Figure 3).


Processing the wood involved a series of time-consuming yet very essential steps:

  1. Brush each piece using a wire brush or wire wheel chucked in a cordless drill.

  2. Inspect each piece for residual metal or embedded dirt/stones.

  3. Wash each piece using soap and water and a stiff nylon bristle brush and rinse thoroughly with a pressurized stream of water.

  4. Let dry and inspect again for damaging embedded debris.

Once the wood is sufficiently clean and ready for tooling use a hand plane or jointer to smooth one side to ensure flatness. The beauty of the wood now becomes apparent as evidenced by the dark color streaks and blackened regions surrounding each nail hole (Figure 3). 


(Green Initiative Part I)

(Green Initiative Part III)

(Green Initiative Part IV)


pallet     pallet     pallet

Figure 1                                                                  Figure 2                                                                 Figure 3


If you have any questions or comments about this blog entry please do not hesitate to send me an e-mail. Thanks and be safe when working with tools!!!




burgie picture

Robert Burgoyne, also known as "Burgie", has been doing woodworking for nearly 30 years. He started learning at an early age in his grandfather's garage and continued while working with his father in construction. The hobby has now become a business with Creative Landscape Accents. Burgie builds  high quality woodworking projects for the outdoors and also enjoys making decorative accent pieces for inside the house. While not working in his shop doing woodworking Burgie enjoys computers, restoring his old 1964 Chevy C60 2-ton dump truck and riding his Harley-Davidson Road King throughout beautiful Colorado.



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