New Found Pallet Passion

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Project by JR_Dog posted 02-20-2012 03:16 AM 11404 views 2 times favorited 48 comments Add to Favorites Watch

Okay so I just overheard someone talk about how great it is to salvage pallet wood for projects; okay I didn’t just hear about it but I just started paying attention to it… provided you’re not grabbing bacteria infested ones from the back of grocery stores and hazardous waste dumps… I found a local hardware store that allows me to take a few from time to time and this is what I’ve done so far. Just a few little glue ups after destroying many more planks than I was able to salvage when trying to dismantle these puppies… that’s another story which may lead into another project post or update to this one, but I’m having someone weld me a tool that should allow me to salvage much more wood from these pallets… so having said all that and jumping into tangents… I’m posting pictures of two glue ups that I was going to use for my stair rungs going into my basement but decided to bag that idea and use them for something else. At this point it’s up in the air mainly because I “Think” I know what kind of wood this is but to be honest I’m not exactly sure (My guess is red oak, or just plain old oak, but there’s a part of me that is thinking possibly cedar???). So until I get batter at identifying different species of wood I thought I’d get a collective opinion from all of you before I decide what to do with it. Thanks and if anyone has any pallet projects of their own and has pointers throw them my way.

48 comments so far

View Trev_Batstone's profile


317 posts in 3567 days

#1 posted 02-20-2012 03:40 AM

I’ve heard about others who have made lovely projects from pallets that they have brought home. And believe it or not, you can apparently stumble onto pallets that contain fine exotic woods (from overseas, etc.). I don’t have a truck so I think I’ll start carrying a small sledge hammer in my car so that I can dismantle the pallets on site and just bring the wood home in my car. With what I see from your glue-ups here, you could probably make a bookshelf or perhaps a table. Good luck with the pallets.


View Martyroc's profile


2712 posts in 3380 days

#2 posted 02-20-2012 03:54 AM

Hi JR,

Looks like you got them apart, I am not sure of the wood species, i can only identify about a dozen myself. I pulled 3 pieces of 3/4” oak from my last pallet, too good to use on any jig or shop project, they will be used to create something nice for my wife or daughter.

-- Martin ....always count the number of fingers you have before, and after using the saw.

View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 3394 days

#3 posted 02-20-2012 03:57 AM

Thanks for the feedback Trev. Do you have any thoughts on if this is Red Oak or something else? I’ll tell you from my limited but vivid experience… the sledge may only provide you with frustration and splinters… unless you find pallets that do not have spiral nails and are possibly soft wood like pine. After battling with the few pallets I was able to find….. I’ll post the tool and what I used to make it on this post after its done this week (at the welding shop now)... this tool may not look pretty when it’s done but it should result in the proper dismantling up pressure and least amount of damage…

Thank you for responding. I looked at your projects; great job!

View DaddyT's profile


267 posts in 4585 days

#4 posted 02-20-2012 04:11 AM

I go t a really weird question, but it may help identify the wood. Does it smell kinda bad when you cut it? If so its probably red oak. It looks like it to me in the pics but its kinda hard to tell really. But the smell will give it away. Also cedar is a pretty light (weight) wood, so if its on the heavy side its oak. But its a great find either way. I love getting pallets and finding cool boards. I actually was supposed to get some today but its snowing where I live so maybe tomorrow lol. Cant wait to see what you make with the boards, and the tool you are having made! If it will help me get the apart better I really want to copy your design lol

-- Jimi _ Measure twice, cut [email protected]#%#[email protected]!!!......measure twice, cut....

View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 3394 days

#5 posted 02-20-2012 04:19 AM

That’s a good idea.. I did smell the wood.. and I have to say, however I know everyone’s different, but it didn’t think it smelled bad per se, that’s what sort of makes me think it could be Cedar… but than again I often think I smell good but the wife will tell me different; if you catch my drift. I have a glue up of a similar size piece of Canary Wood… let me see if the weight is close between the two or if it’s much lighter than the Canary. I’ll also try to dent both of them with my finger nail and see how they react.

Thanks for the tips/suggestions

View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 3394 days

#6 posted 02-20-2012 04:34 AM

No prob… I’ll post a picture of it when I get it back from the welding shop. Essentially I bought a chunk of 5/8th inch square steel at about 3 feet long… I’ll have scrap left over on that but I just gave it to the guy doing the welding and told him to keep the rest to limit my expense; that cost me about 15 bucks, then I purchased a 38 dollar crow bar and drew out how I wanted him to cut it and weld it together. I wish I had a welder but I’m more interested in woodworking currently so I’ll stick with my wood power tools.. but with a few modifications to those two pieces of steel I should have an excellent tool that straddles or goes over the center cross slats and has two wide “fingers” so to speak that will come up from underneath and create a even pressure on the valuable hard wood so it doesn’t split and destroy them before they can be used – Pop and smile.

View travist's profile


20 posts in 4620 days

#7 posted 02-20-2012 04:39 AM

I’m by no means an expert at wood species, but your boards don’t look like red or white oak to me…the grain structure doesn’t seem to match. Flat sawn oak has more catheral grain, while rift and quarter sawn will be fairly straight grained with some possible ray fleck in the rift sawn. You did a great job dismantling (i’m still struggling with an efficient method for pallets) and they cleaned up very nicely. Whatever the wood species, it’ll make a nice project. I’m looking forward to seeing the tool you designed to dismantle the pallets.

-- If you can draw it, it can be built. Travis

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 3416 days

#8 posted 02-20-2012 06:20 AM

Yeah, I’d like to see this tool as well. I like a free pallet full of hidden oak and maple and cedar treasures, but geez, I hate the tear apart process. Post some pics when you get it. Thanks!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View Sodabowski's profile


2400 posts in 3907 days

#9 posted 02-20-2012 10:00 AM

I built a crappy shelf and folding table from pallet wood. Pine happens, as does oak (for heavy items). I can’t quite figure out what yours is, though I don’t think cedar can be a possibility.

-- Thomas - there are no problems, there are only solutions.

View woodtickgreg's profile


212 posts in 4193 days

#10 posted 02-20-2012 10:31 AM

Kinda hard to tell from the pictures but it looks like maple to me. I use a long 3’-4’ pry bar to pull out those spiral nails. a hammer will just split the boards. common species for pallets in the us are oak, maple, ash, poplar. and a couple of weeks ago I found one made out of walnut 3” thick. remember pallets will be green by woodworker standards and will need to be dried, they will be very wet and will shrink when they dry.

-- wood tick tools for turners by woodtickgreg @

View jackthelab's profile


313 posts in 3767 days

#11 posted 02-20-2012 11:43 AM


When I was a kid, my dad used to go the local Honda motorcycle dealer to retrieve pallets. At that point in time, the pallets were made of mahogany. Amazing projects came from those pallets.

-- Dave in Minnesota - If it ain't broke, improve it!

View JR_Dog's profile


526 posts in 3394 days

#12 posted 02-20-2012 12:14 PM

I want to thank everyone for their posts and interest. I went back out to the shop late last night and did what I thought would be a good test (Fingernail)... from what I can tell that’s not really a good test as I can make a small indent in both Pine (obviously) and my Canary and Bubinga glue ups that are about the same size as these; what I gathered on that was it only matters how deep and how easy it is to make that mark not if you can or not. The indent was about the same if not a little deeper on the canary wood then it was on these pallet pieces.. I have no doubt it’s fairly dense hardwood, partially because of my fingernail test but also partly because it’s just as heavy as my two other previously mentioned exotic hardwoods. I’m excited to keep searching to find out what they are…. and also to get more of the pallets dismantled and cleaned up to see if I continue to get great wood out of them. I too believe it’s possibly some species of maple but still can’t be sure. I’m going to start a vote that it’s okay to continue on and call it “Scooby-Doo” wood since it’s a mystery yet to be solved. I also want everyone to know that this tool that I am having someone make wasn’t completely from my bean box… It stated from a you tube vid I saw from a guy in the UK that sells them for about 70 or 80 bucks; and then shipping makes it about double that…. If anyone is interested in having the full blown tool from the original designer take a peek at this vid and you’ll probably smile like I did. What I didn’t smile about was the cost due to shipping so I decided to make one that’s similar for about half the cost since i eliminated the shipping:

There, now I don’t feel bad because I’m not making people think this was my design and also feel better since anyone can jump to his website or call him and order it if they don’t want to wait to see my rendition.. as I said mine will not be as “Pretty” I’m sure but if it pops those suckers off without damaging them anywhere near how his does I’ll be a very happy camper.

View punk's profile


181 posts in 3490 days

#13 posted 02-20-2012 12:21 PM

yes’ its a good place to get wood of all kinds,esp. if you find a place that gets a lot of over seas delivers,you can get a lot of really weard kinds of wood.i love to useit my self because its free, just becarefull of dirt and nails hard on your planer nives

-- Punk in PA

View Gabe C.'s profile

Gabe C.

288 posts in 3416 days

#14 posted 02-20-2012 02:23 PM

Thanks for posting the video, that tool looks immensely useful. When you get yours done, let us know how it goes. Thanks!

-- If I could just get this whole "Time/Money" problem figured out...

View Bertha's profile


13615 posts in 3768 days

#15 posted 02-20-2012 02:25 PM

^I was going to say maple myself.

-- My dad and I built a 65 chev pick up.I killed trannys in that thing for some reason-Hog

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