Pallet dismantling – minimal tools

The tools you need for pallet projects aren’t much different from the tools you need for any other woodworking project.

The main exception being the tools you need to get the pallet apart in the first place, so let’s focus on that, shall we?

Minimal Tools

A question often times heard is:

Which tools do I need minimally to take pallets apart?


I would say minimally:

  • a crowbar and a (claw)hammer


If you have some elbow grease laying around, I would suggest that as well 😉

Oh, and not to forget: use some earplugs. Hitting the crowbar with a hammer makes a lot of noise, and you’re pretty close!


You’re going to get pretty busy with these tools, and it won’t go very fast, but it will also be almost meditative, and you get some exercise.


What I do is: I place the crowbar under the corner of a board, and use the hammer to hit it under the board.

Then I try to pry the board a bit loose, and move the crowbar further under the board, and pry some more.

In general I have noticed that I get the best results when I get the crowbar closest to the nails. This way you minimize splitting.


Sometimes when I have lifted the board about half an inch to an inch, I use the hammer to hit the board back in place. With some luck the nails stay up, and the board goes down.

Now you can use the claw hammer or the crowbar to remove the nails.


Some pallets are stubborn, and refuse to be taken apart this way. I’d say this happens with the heavier quality pallets, like from oak wood. Perhaps with these pallets it’s time to start using a reciprocating, or circle saw. Or a pallet buster.


Just find yourself a good way to take pallets apart with minimal tools.

Practice makes perfect, and never forget to use appropriate protection (ears, eyes, hands, feet)

God knows how many times a board or wood block has fallen on my flip-flop clad foot…