Saturday, July 10, 2010

Building Pallets, Part 2

Welcome Preppers and Survivalist,

Modifying an Existing Pallet

Modifying an existing pallet can be fast and easy if you remember one simple rule.

The rule: Get the Best Pallets You Can Find.

You can find pallets at many places. I have had lots of luck at local lumber yards, home improvement places, and local paint stores. If these folks don't have any pallets, when you visit, always ask if they will have some in the future or if they know anybody that has some pallets.

Be warned. Some folks might ask you to pay for the pallets; I had to pay 25¢ per pallet, one time. All the other times, people are happy to give them to me for free.

OK. You have the best pallet or pallets; you can find, in town.

The next thing you want to do is review your plan because you plan determines how you will need to modify the pallet to fit your needs.

For this article, I will be doing a pallet modification to fit under two shelves; I built a few articles, ago.

So, I need a pallet that will fit a 48 inch wide space that is 24 inches deep. Nope, I really need a 45 inch wide pallet because the shelf's legs make the space 45 inches wide [48 inches - 3 inches (two 1 1/2 inch legs) = 45 inches]

But I have a problem, I can only find 41 inch wide pallets that are 48 inches deep, in my area. Oh well, I will have to settle for 41 inch wide pallets because that's all I can get around here.

Back to the plan.

Since I need two 24 inch deep pallets, I am going to slit the pallet in half. You will notice in the picture to the right that one of the top deck boards (slats) are going to be in the way, so it will have to be removed.

When I remove a slat, I want to be careful.

Now, I have tried removing slats a bunch of different ways. (Hitting the slat on the back to pop the nail, prying up on the slat to pop the nail, carefully digging the nail out to pull the nail out, and ...) Most of the time, I ended up splitting the slat. Sometimes, I would end up breaking the slat making it useless. Until, I discovered a method that gave me consistent success.

This method requires a claw hammer with straight claws and a rubber mallet. First, starting on one end of the slat, position the claw hammer, so when you hit the hammer with the rubber mallet, you knock the claws under the wood. Next, you work the claws under the wood by hitting the claw hammer with the rubber mallet. Hit the hammer pretty hard with the rubber mallet. Next, hit it a few more times then move the hammer to the other side. Do the same until the slat moves. (You might jam the claws under the wooden slat, don't worry, just hit the hammer in the opposite direction)

Next, you move to the middle set of nails and do the same thing. Once the middle set of nails are loose, you move to the other end. Once all the nails are loose, on that slat, pry the slat up with the claw hammer. There should be no problem and the slat should be in good shape.

Make sure, you use a rubber mallet because a metal hammer may chip or shatter if hit with another metal hammer.

Once all the slats were removed that I needed removed, I was ready to cut the pallet into two pieces.

To cut the pallet in two, I measured and marked all three stringers. For these cuts, I used a circular saw. (You can use a handsaw; it will just take a little more time and effort) Next, I cut one of the outside stringers. To cut the outside stringers, I put the pallet on end and cut the stringer. I turned the pallet over and cut the other stringer.

Lastly, I set the pallet down, just like normal, and cut the middle stringer. Turn the pallet over (the cut won't go all the way through) then cut the other side of the middle stringer.

OK. I was lucky and this pallet had to have two stingers removed, so I then nailed one slat to each smaller pallet and ta da. I have two pallets 24 inches deep and 41 inches wide.

The picture above, shows the almost finished pallets with all of the tools and safety gear, except my brain and safety glasses, that I used on this project.

Back to the project.

I say almost finished; the small pallets are unstable. It seems the bottom deckboards are too close to the middle, so off they come.

To be attached, at the end of the stringer. Just like the other bottom deckboards.

Now, all I do is turn them over and place the pallets under each shelf, and start loading it up with supplies.

Lastly, this was a simple modification. I didn't have to change the distance between each slat; take a slat off of one pallet and put it on another pallet; or replace one of the stringers because it was broken, or ...

But, with a little imagination and the basics introduced in this article, you can now handle most problems modifying a pallet and modify pallets to fit most of your needs.

Tools Needed:
Saw, curricular or hand
Extension Cord if using circular saw
Claw Hammer with straight claws
Rubber Mallet

Safety Equipment:
Hearing Protection
Eye Protection
Your Brain

Robbins Resource Management - Pallet Parts Terminology
Scroll down to "Stringer Design"

Safety Xchange - Pallet Hazards and How to Control Them