how to process pallets for firewood

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schwaggly

Burning Hunk
Sep 23, 2009
198
n.shore ma
I've got more wood for 2011 than 2010 and even more for 2012 than 2011. I need to stretch my supply with some pallets and I've got a good local source.
I've just been going at them with my electric saw kinda half ass. Does anyone have a better/neater way?
 

spirilis

Minister of Fire
Sep 8, 2009
940
Baltimore, MD
Heard some folks use a circular saw, that sounds a bit nicer. I go at them with a sawzall but that is really hard on my wrists...
Personally wouldn't mind also having a table saw for cutting some of the slats down to smaller stove-size as I love burning them in my smaller downstairs stove (mainly use my WoodBrickFuel in the upstairs stove).
 

golfandwoodnut

Minister of Fire
I like using a sawsall. I stand them upright and just cut downwards.
 

Battenkiller

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2009
3,741
Just Outside the Blue Line
Lay down about 4-5 of them in a stack to use as a bench, put them one at a time on the stack and cut them with a circ saw. Set your blade just deep enough to go through them. Cut the bottom slats first then flip them over. Save all the heavier lengthwise pieces, line them next to each other on the top of the stack and make two cuts across the entire layer.

Use a cheap blade, wear safety goggles, and of course, watch out for nails. And make sure you don't dump the ashes in the driveway.
 

CrawfordCentury

New Member
Jul 1, 2009
187
The foothills
Stack 'em about 4' tall and make 4 vertical cuts alongside the support runners with your beater saw. If you have one that's orange and other that's purple and green, use the latter of the 2 in case you encounter a stray nail.

Then cut to stove length with a mitre saw.

Not a lot of firewood in pallets. Lots of air. Fortunately, air's needed for combustion. And pallets burn better than iceicles.
 

basswidow

Minister of Fire
Oct 17, 2008
1,316
Milton GA
Is it ok to burn the boards with the nails? My stove is brick lined and I don't put my ashes on the driveway. Pulling the nails would make it more of a hassle then it would be worth.

I may go after some pallet boards too and plan to use my circular saw. With a tool size generator, you could cut a bunch on site without hauling them home to cut. They take up so much space in the truck bed - it's hardly worth scrounging them, unless you could break them down on site. I have a short bed and could probably get at most 10 in the bed. But cut on site - I could fill the bed above the rails with boards in short order.
 

spirilis

Minister of Fire
Sep 8, 2009
940
Baltimore, MD
I burn them with the nails. I don't put my ashes in the driveway so IMO it's all good. Do whatever you have to in order to cut them down--it's a great idea actually...
 

CrawfordCentury

New Member
Jul 1, 2009
187
The foothills
Burn 'em with the nails in. Get a good magnet if you spread ashes anywhere you tread.

BTW, those nails will NOT be suitable for use after being subjected to high temps
 

leaddog

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2007
933
Hesperia, Michigan
use a magnet in the ashes and pull all the nails out. works really well and it even gets the nails that are in firewood that you didn't know about.
leaddog
 

sksmass

Member
Dec 21, 2009
203
Western MA
Does heating metal (like the iron in nails) change the rate of decomposition of the metal? That is. if you took two identical nails, made one red hot by putting into a fire, and then buried them both (like in your compost pile), would they turn to iron oxide (pure rust) at the same rate?
 

CrawfordCentury

New Member
Jul 1, 2009
187
The foothills
sksmass said:
Does heating metal (like the iron in nails) change the rate of decomposition of the metal? That is. if you took two identical nails, made one red hot by putting into a fire, and then buried them both (like in your compost pile), would they turn to iron oxide (pure rust) at the same rate?

I don't know the science behind why, but it's the same reason woodstoves are made from cast iron and not steel.
 

CarbonNeutral

Minister of Fire
Jan 20, 2009
1,132
Nashoba Valley(ish), MA
1. See if you can get hardwood pallets from a local stonemason/landscaping company

2. I use a circ saw with a cheap carbide toothed blade - most of which are missing from hitting hidden nails - it did cut quickly though when it was new...

3. Technique depends on the pallet style - the hardwood ones are trickier.

4. Ditto for the whole stack making a bench thing
 

CarbonNeutral

Minister of Fire
Jan 20, 2009
1,132
Nashoba Valley(ish), MA
PS. Tried a sawzall - horrible, much slower
 

prajna101

Member
Oct 15, 2009
137
Portland OR
Another for circ saw with old blade. Stack like a table.

I usually get a pile of "nail wood". Then I burn it all up in a day or so and throw the nail ashes away in the trash. Then back to normal burning.

I get my pallets from a lanscape company that is literally less than a block away. They stack them up for me. The I go over every couple of months and give the forklift operator a $5 and he drives them to my driveway in one load.

t
 

CarbonNeutral

Minister of Fire
Jan 20, 2009
1,132
Nashoba Valley(ish), MA
TriTodd said:
I get my pallets from a lanscape company that is literally less than a block away. They stack them up for me. The I go over every couple of months and give the forklift operator a $5 and he drives them to my driveway in one load.

t

That's awesome - they are heavy and dirty to stick in the back of the car.
 

prajna101

Member
Oct 15, 2009
137
Portland OR
Yeah, I can haul 5 at a time on my bike trailer too. The weight isnt bad, but the wind resistance on a stack of pallets is HUGE!!! If I am scrounging on my bike, I throw a sawzall in with an extra battery and 12 inch pruning blade for quick breakdowns.

todd
 

WES999

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2008
1,047
Mass north of Boston
I break them up with my pallet fork, mine is home made but you can buy them.
Then cut them up with a circular saw.

OPE store around the corner put out these nice oak pallets, I grab as much as I can and burn them. :exclaim:
 

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Elderthewelder

Minister of Fire
CrawfordCentury said:
it's the same reason woodstoves are made from cast iron and not steel.

???????????


Everybody I know who owns a stove has one made out of steel
 

Elderthewelder

Minister of Fire
CrawfordCentury said:
it's the same reason woodstoves are made from cast iron and not steel.

???????????


Everybody I know who owns a stove, has a steel stove, I do not think I would even consider a cast stove/ IMO cast to fragile and once it breaks or cracks it is a pain to repair

sorry about the double post
 

SWNH

Feeling the Heat
Dec 23, 2008
310
New Hampshire, USA
Well, after breaking down 100's of pallets last year, I think I've tried just about every way possible to do it.

BFL (Big F$#^$& lever) - Way too much effort. Those twist nails are like rivets!

Chainsaw - Holding the pallet vertically with a stand and trying to slice down thru the slats. Slats always pinched the bar.

SawzAll - Too slow and weight of the tool can tire one out early. Not to mention the slats will sometimes pinch the blade and vibrate to death...without cutting.

Jigsaw - Did about 50 this way. Aggressive blade. Easy to steer around nails. Barrel grip is easier on the wrist than top handle. Slower that a circular saw, but I get into a rhythm.

Circular saw - Tool of choice using Oshlun Deck & Nail blades. These have more steel backing up the carbide tips, so they can take more "shock" when hitting a nail without dislodging the tip. Sure, they dull but I have the equipment to sharpen them.

I put the pallet on a table with stops (to hold it) and "float" the saw barely above the surface...not really riding on the shoe much. This is (obviously) a 2-hand operation...hence the need for the stops. I use a Milwaukee 6390 because it's one if the lightest saws in it's class. The Tilt-Lok adjustable handle is a plus. After cutting all the slats from the stringers, I cut the stringers with a 10" chop saw.

A spring project will be modifying a Delta Sawbuck to ride on 6ft rails to slice thru the slats without having to hold the saw's weight. Since it's captured by the rails, I'll be able to cut in both directions to save time...without having to worry about kickback.
 

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Battenkiller

Minister of Fire
Nov 26, 2009
3,741
Just Outside the Blue Line
Or, you can do what I used to do and own a friend that runs a pallet shop...

They had to get rid of their scrap somehow, paying for removal if needed (nowadays they chip in and pump the chips into the nearby woods). Once or twice of a year, he'd send a couple of his guys over to dump a huge trailer load at my place. Free wood, but what a pain! Thousands of little pieces from 3" long up to about 2', then hundreds of longer boards with defects that I had to cut to stove length on my band saw. Let me tell you, if you think handling big rounds is a pain, try moving and storing a mess like this before it gets snowed on. Then loading the stove, trying to get a good, long burn (they only work well when mixed with splits in my experience), dealing with the giant bed of tiny coals with no air spaces for burn channels, etc, etc, and so forth.

One year I set up 6 pallets in a rectangle to make a bin. Wired them all together and dumped all the smallest pieces in it. Filled it heaping. Then my buddy's shop went to the chipper and I stopped burning pallet scrap. Now fast forward to last year. I decided to break down that old compost bin that I hadn't been using in years. Forgot all about that it was full of pallet wood fragments, now fully decomposed into about a cubic yard of rotten muck.

God, I hate burning pallets! And getting them deliberately and cutting them up myself? What was I thinking?! My friendly hardware store always has a big stack around the back for free. Every spring I select about 8 good, strong, heavy ones... just enough to store my leftover splits from the recently ended burn season.
 

schwaggly

Burning Hunk
Sep 23, 2009
198
n.shore ma
I think I'm going to use the stack method with my electric chainsaw for now. I'll plug it into an adapter in my car to break them up at the store bring them home and finish up.
I found some oak beauties that burn wicked pissa.
 

Got Wood

Minister of Fire
Oct 22, 2008
926
Dutchess Cty, NY
Or you can just beat the crap out of them with a sledge hammer. May not be efficient but its great stress relief
 

4acrefarm

Member
Jan 11, 2009
159
western ma
chainsaw for slats and chop saw for runners
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
19,593
Unity/Bangor, Maine
CrawfordCentury said:
sksmass said:
Does heating metal (like the iron in nails) change the rate of decomposition of the metal? That is. if you took two identical nails, made one red hot by putting into a fire, and then buried them both (like in your compost pile), would they turn to iron oxide (pure rust) at the same rate?

I don't know the science behind why, but it's the same reason woodstoves are made from cast iron and not steel.

Uh . . . scratching my head here . . . I realize there are cast iron woodstoves (I mean my Jotul is cast iron), but I'm pretty sure there are woodstoves made out of steel as well . . . Lopi, Englander, etc.
 
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