How to Cut Pallets

How to Cut Pallets

Breaking down a pallet can be tough work, but using the right tool can make it quite a bit easier. If you have a Sawzall on hand, then following through this simple guide won’t require too much effort. If not, it’s worth considering if you have many pallets to break down.

The following steps will include everything you need to know to get through your pallets in no time at all. You’ll then be able to handle the pieces however you need to, either storing them, using them for different purposes or getting rid of them altogether.

Make Sure You Have Everything You Need

Before you get started with your actual cutting, it’s going to be wise to make sure you have everything you need prepared. Most importantly, you’ll need your safety equipment like gloves, goggles and clothes that you don’t mind getting messed up.

You’ll also want some ear plugs, as this process can be loud. Protecting your vital areas and hearing is absolutely key. Additionally, make sure you have a safe space to work in and any other added safety precautions you may want to take. You really can’t be too safe when working with a reciprocating saw.

Check the Quality of Your Pallets

Next, you’ll want to take a close look at your pallets. For many, the idea behind cutting pallets is to store them until they can be used again.

However, if the pallet is already too damaged then this isn’t going to be the likely scenario. Consider finding a new way to reuse the wood, burn or toss wood from pallets that can’t be salvaged.

For those that are still in good shape, you can move forward with the process of cutting and storing the pieces until you need to make use of them again.

Later, we’ll go into how you can best cut them to ensure that they’ll be able to be put back together.

Get a Sawzall

The easiest way to get pallets apart quickly and effectively is by using a reciprocating saw like the Sawzall.

This will make the process much smoother, and you can good a decent number of pallets deconstructed in a much shorter amount of time overall.

Keep in mind that you may need to purchase blades for that Sawzall.

In most cases, a set of 12-inch blades will work perfectly well and ensure that you have a backup in case one becomes too dull or breaks.

Many Sawzall tools include a much smaller blade, but it isn’t going to be ideal for jobs like cutting pallets.

Prepping Your Pallet

Start by resting the pallet against a wall or other sturdy surface in a vertical manner.

You’ll want the slats of the pallet to be resting horizontally so that you can easily cut through the areas where they are attached to the sides.

If you’re unable to stand it up, then lay it down flat over a workbench.

Keep in mind that the goal here isn’t to saw directly through any of the slats or other wooden portions, but instead to separate the areas that are being held together by nails.

It’s important to be very careful to make sure you don’t cause too much damage to the wood.

Cutting the Pallet

At this point, you’ll begin cutting through the pallet. Remember that you need to be careful to wedge the saw in between the pieces of wood as much as possible, avoiding cutting the wood itself.

Make sure that you are guiding the blade away from your body rather than towards it, for the purposes of safety.

You’ll need to cut through both sides of the pallet slats, as well as the front and back.

By repeating the process for every spot where the pieces are nailed together, you’ll be able to complete the task without too much of an issue.

Cleaning Up

When you’re finished with the cutting, it’s time to clean up the area you’ve been working in.

That means storing the pieces of pallet that you’ve disconnected, or getting rid of them if they aren’t going to be reusable.

Take your time to avoid leaving splintered wood around, and make sure to clean and unplug any electric tools that you have used.

Finally, get those tools put away in a safe place where they cannot be reached or turned on by children or pets accidentally. At that point, your task will be complete.


When you have the right tool on hand, breaking down pallets is a relatively easy task.

Just make sure to take your time and focus on safety as well as getting the job done.

That way, you won’t end up rushing through and accidentally injuring yourself in the process.

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