If you constantly peruse Pinterest the way I do, you've seen loads of posts about making wonderful crafts by recycling pallets... bookshelves, headboards, signage, garden fencing, furniture... you NAME it - if you have pallets the world is your oyster! I rarely read through the details of such articles, I just pin the pictures I like for "future reference," and go on living my blissfully ignorant life.
Now, here I am at the beginning of August, wanting to start a project for the next play I'm working on (more on that in another post) and short on money to lay out for supplies. I thought of every crafter's hero, the pallet.
What the Pinterest posts don't usually mention is GETTING a pallet in the first place, and then taking it apart. I frequently see them lying around in piles in places where I'd have to ask for them, "uh, excuse me, can I have that pallet in the back? Uh, yeah, for free? And can I pick through the pile so I can get a good one?" Yeah, I'm not so good at that. Then then I've seen some that clearly look like they're waiting to be picked up as trash - which means I would just be recycling, right? Right? But I can't pick up a pallet by myself, and my kids (who are now definitely old enough to help me with this problem) hate garbage picking (I know this because I've asked them) and my husband never misses a chance to tell me that I have too much crap!
I recently noticed that my parents had what looked to be an unused pallet in their yard. (this crap collecting tendency is inherited, I think), "mom, are you gonna use that pallet? No? Great, can I have it? Thanks! Sure, I can take it apart, no problem!"
So I get the aforementioned pallet home (and it is a LARGE one) and I go grab a hammer, thinking this is all I'll need to deconstruct it. Yeah, right.
This pallet had landscaping stones on it, so it was made really well, but perhaps ALL pallets are made really well. All I know is that my hammer wasn't doing SHIT by itself. I was using the claw end to try and separate the boards, which were cracking under the stress. I found a chisel in the garage...
Ah, that was a bit of an improvement. I hammered the chisel between the two boards and then used it as a lever to separate the boards a bit hoping to pop up the nails far enough so I could grab them with the claw end of the hammer. I also turned the whole pallet over and tried hammering the loose board away from its support piece...
It was slow going. Separate the boards, turn the pallet back over, hammer the board back down and get the nail to stick up enough to do this:
I had some success, but what a lot of work! It's been in the 90s here and it's also humid as hell. I was sweating like a pig! (Do pigs sweat? Who came up with that stupid analogy anyway?) I used a pair of pliers to give me more leverage with the claw of the hammer.
I got a few nails out and then this happened...
CRAP! The heads of the nails started bending and then breaking right off. It didn't happen once or twice, but at least 5 times. Damn. Back to the garage where I found this GEM of a tool.
LOCKING PLIERS! I had heard my husband taking about them, but I had never used them before. They were pretty easy to figure out. You loosen or tighten the screw at the end of one handle so that you can get a good grip on the item you want to hold. Press tightly and... they are MAGIC!! They might just be the next addition to my own personal toolbox. See the picture above? Notice I was not even TOUCHING the locking pliers? Anyway, I locked on the pliers, put the claw of the hammer under them and pried up - nails came out like a dream.
What you must consider, however, is that there are DOZENS of nails in a pallet. Dozens. I worked for about an hour or two and I got 3 boards free and clean of nails.
So the lesson of today is:
SPEAK AND HAMMER SOFTLY AND CARRY A PAIR OF LOCKING PLIERS.
And maybe spring for your own pair so they're not covered in grease.
Can anyone out there recommend a fabulous tool? I'd love to hear about it!