Monthly Archives: September 2012

DIY Cowboy: How to reclaim wood from pallets

How to reclaim wood from pallets

Wood is the material of choice for a lot of my projects. In an effort to keep my hobby budget tight, I’ve ventured into the world of reclaimed and re-purposed wood. I’ll often collect shipping pallets, crates, and wood that has been previously used for sheds and decking, then re-purpose it for my projects. Sometimes, this wood has been taken apart for me and I just need to cut out any rot and remove and any pieces of metal that have been lodged in it. But Most of the time, I have to take it apart myself.

The most common structure to reclaim wood from is a shipping pallet. They can be found anywhere across America. Small companies often want to get rid of these ASAP. Large companies sometimes have a process to reuse or recycle their pallets, but are often willing to give a few away to anyone who asks.

With all of the boards and nails, it can be a little intimidating and difficult to start separating a pallet. Just going at it with a pry bar and hammer isn’t going to work very well. You’ll have trouble getting the pry bar in to those tight joints and you can easily crack the wood, rending it hardly usable. Here is a guide with my steps, precautions, and techniques to help you reclaim the wood used in a pallet with maximum efficiency and minimal damage to the wood.

The tools I recommend are

  • a 4×4 piece of wood, long enough to lay across the pallet.
  • a 2 pound or heavier mallet, possibly made of rubber
  • a piece of 2×6 or similar, 1-3 feet tall
  • a regular hammer with a good claw
  • a pry bar – Stanley 21-Inch Wonder Bar
  • gloves
  • safety glasses
  • punches – 8 Piece Pin Punch Set
  • optionally, a sledge hammer and an empty jar for rusty nails

Start by

putting on your gloves and laying the pallet out on a hard, flat surface. I use my garage floor, but a sidewalk, porch, or driveway will also work well. Make sure you have sufficient space to walk around the pallet. I like to start the pallet with the heavily planked side up, the same way the pallet would lay if the shipping cargo were sitting on it. Grab the 4×4. Raise the pallet with one hand and slide the 4×4 underneath with the other. Position the 4×4 so that it is side to side with the first board you want to remove.

Once in position,
grab your mallet and 2×6 and stand it on the board you want to remove. You will need to hold it steady and can choose to hold it at an angle if you need to. Stand the 2×6 near where the pallet board contacts other boards and try to hold it so that as much of the 2×6 end is touching the pallet board as possible. This will distribute your hitting force more evenly around the nails attaching the board to the rest of the pallet, preventing cracking while still allowing you to deliver a lot of force. Hit the 2×6 with the mallet. Give it a few good hits and you should notice the pallet board slipping away from the other pieces of the pallet. Once it reaches about a quarter inch of separation, move your 2×6 to another part of the board where it is connected to the rest of the pallet and continue. Go up and down the length of the board until the board has fallen from the pallet. The more evenly you separate the joints, the less likely you’ll crack the board.

If the board is in a really hard to reach place,
use the sledge hammer. Don’t go nuts and start swinging at the board! Use gravity and the weight of the sledge hammer. Just lifting it and dropping it a few times is enough to dislodge the board from the rest of the pallet. This technique allows you to place the head of the sledge hammer sideways into a small space, then just lift and drop to get the board moving. You could use this method for the entire pallet, but this method is prone to creating more cracks in the boards.

Before moving on to the next board,
make sure to move the recently removed board far enough from your work area that you won’t accidentally step on it or the rusty nails sticking out of it. Then move your 4×4 next to another board and start removing that board with the mentioned techniques. I like to work from outer-most to inner-most boards, helping keep the pallet rigid while I’m working with it. Once finished with one side, flip it over and do the other side of the pallet.

When deciding which side of a board I want to place my 4×4 against, I choose the side with the least weight. This puts the board I want to remove in between the 4×4 and the floor, as opposed to the 4×4 and the air. I can’t follow this rule when removing the boards on the ends of the pallet, so to help keep the pallet heavy and steady against the 4×4, I stand on the pallet while making my hits. Another thing to note is that hitting too hard into a small area will cause cracking in the board. You never want that. That’s why I recommend using the mallet in conjunction with a 2×6 and only using the sledge hammer in tight spaces.

Once the boards have all been separated,
you should take the time to remove the nails. This will make your new boards safe and easy to store. I take each board, one at a time, and lay it on the edge of a work bench or flat stool. I make sure the nail heads are on the bottom side (floor side) of the board and that I’m looking at the points of the nails. I then take my regular hammer and start knocking the nails out to the other side. Keeping the targeted nails close to the edge of a sturdy table or stool keeps the board from flexing and makes each swing of the hammer count that much more. Once I’ve knocked each nail flush with my side of the board, I grab another board and do it again.

As I finish each board, I lay it on the floor, nail heads up. Once they are all on the floor, I put on my safety glasses and grab my jar and pry bar. Make sure you have your safety glasses on, because sometimes these nails will flex on their way out, causing them to fling into the air when being removed. I’ve already been hit in the face a couple of times and hit in the goggles once. I begin walking on the boards, taking care not to step on any nails, using my pry bar to pull the nails out. This is a cake walk on thinner boards and can sometimes be difficult with thick boards. Thicker boards, like 2x4s, might require you to get down on your hand and knees to pull their nails out.

Some stubborn nails
will lose their heads. To get these out, you need to get creative. If the nail hole goes all the way through the board, I take the board back to my workbench or stool and flip it over, the same way it was when I knocked the nail through to the other side. I then use a punch set to drive the nail the rest of the way out from the bottom side. If the nail hole doesn’t go all the way through, I will lay one of my punches next to the nail and us the hammer to bend the broken nail over the punch tool. Then, I’m usually able to use the claw on the hammer to get enough grip to remove the nail.

Now you’re done.
You’ll want to store the nails in a safe place, like a jar with a lid. I haven’t thought of any good uses for rusty, bent nails yet, so I just recycle them. Make sure that before using the reclaimed wood, you pass a metal detector over it. You don’t want any missed nails or staples damaging your saw blades and other tools. Also, I try to plane my wood ASAP. I do so with a lot of dust protection. The reason I do this is because some pallets get fumigated and treated with bad stuff and strong chemicals while they are being moved around the world. It’s my belief that this stuff typically sticks to the surface and doesn’t absorb deep. Holding the boards to the light, you can sometimes notice an eerily shiny surface layer. So, I plane or cut the surface layers away before storing and using this wood, getting rid of that shiny layer. I wear an N95 or better rated mask while doing this to protect myself from contaminated saw dust.

DIY Cowboy: How to reclaim wood from pallets.

What Causes Skin Tags?


What Causes Skin Tags

Skin tags are small pieces of skin that are often thick and moveable and that are attached to the the skin. However the way that skin tags are attached to the skin is in a manner that if and when they are removed they will not leave a scar. Skin tags are actually very common and recent studies have shown that more than 65 percent of people over the age of 60 will develop at least one skin tag.

It is not uncommon for skin tags to appear in a large volume such as 50 – 100 but some people may only have to deal with one or two of them. The good news is that skin tags in most cases are not dangerous and they are basically benign growths.  However, the bad news is that even today doctors are still a bit stumped when it comes to answering the question on what causes skin tags.

Cause of Skin Tags

The cause of skin tags can be linked to a bunch of collagen and blood vessels that are trapped so they form a larger and thicker piece of skin. While there is no sound proof or evidence on what causes skin tags, medical experts have been able to find a correlation between certain events and the formation of skin tags. The following list is some of the most common skin tag causes that are known today:

  • Obesity or being moderately overweight has been known to be on of the common skin tag causes. Skin tags tend to form in folds of skin where the skin is rubbing with other skin. The school of thought when it comes to understanding what causes skin tags is that any friction of the skin can lead toward a higher chances of developing them.
  • Pregnancy is also a skin tag cause. The last thing a woman needs to deal with during pregnancy is yet another hormonal change, right? Well medical experts do believe that the hormone levels and changes that occur during pregnancy can lead to skin tags. The good thing about pregnancy as a skin tag cause is that they often go away on their own after the child is born. In more cases than not, no treatment is needed and once the hormone levels return back to normal the skin tags will fall off and generally not reoccur.
  • Heredity plays a big role in understanding what causes skin tags to appear. Studies have shown that if you come from a long line of people who have developed skin tags in their life, the chances are great that you will as well.
  • Certain medical conditions can also be the cause of skin tags. Diabetics have been known to develop skin tags and this is especially the case in people who have Type 2. Some medical experts believe that the skin tags cause and diabetes is related to the insulin production while others link the skin tag causes to being overweight. As one risk factor for type 2 diabetes does deal with being overweight or obese.  The Human Papilloma Virus has also been linked to be one of the skin tag causes.   Another medical condition that has been linked to the formation of skin tags is Gigantism.

skin tag causesSo as you can see the while the root of a skin tag causes may not be known 100 percent there many risk factors that one should be aware of when it comes to understanding what causes skin tags to grow.

While there may be no definite answer to what causes skin tags there are many ways that one can go about removing these skin tags. Since they are generally not a medical concern, one may be able to remove a skin tag from the comfort of their own home. There are many different over the counter products that are on the market today and all of them are designed to help remove skin tags once and for all.

For those that may prefer a more natural approach there are literally dozens of at home remedies that one can try when it comes to removing skin tags. There is no medical reason to remove a skin tag but if they are in a highly visible area one may feel embarrassed about the skin tag.

The good news is that all though we cannot answer what causes skin tags we can tell you that skin tags can be removed and can be done from the comfort of your own home using one of the available types of skin tag treatments available.

What Causes Skin Tags? To Remove Skin Tags.


Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies – an old favorite | Off The Grain

What brings me serenity? Cattails and chocolate chip cookies

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I’m bringing back an old favorite here. Chocolate chip cookies. Something no recipe box can live without.

My sister and her kiddies were visiting us at the farm the other week. These days when we get together we love to share recipes, play in the garden and bake. Over the course of the weekend we made sugar-free marshmallows, spaghetti squash with ground beef and our favorite treat…chocolate chip cookies.

One afternoon my Dad was out walking with the kids and came back with a bushel of cattails. There’s something about the sight of cattails in the house and the smell of  chocolate chip cookies in the oven that just warms the soul. These ones are definitely kid tested and approved…double thumbs up. We doubled the batch and they were gone in a day.


Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies


Chocolate Chip Cookies


What You Will Need:

2 1/2 cups of almond flour
1 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of baking Soda
1/4 cup of melted butter
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup of real maple syrup
2 tbsp honey
1/2 bag of semi sweet dark chocolate chips

Now What?

  1. In a bowl, mix the dry ingredients: almond flour, salt, baking soda and chocolate chips.
  2. In a smaller bowl, mix wet ingredients: butter, vanilla, maple syrup and honey.
  3. Mix both bowls together and mix well by hand or with your kitchen mixer.
  4. Butter a cookie sheet, and roll the mixture into balls onto the cookie sheet.
  5. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.


Grain Free Chocolate Chip Cookies – an old favorite | Off The Grain.

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