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01. The World of Pallets.

Should anyone intend using pallet wood as a resource - and I fully recommmend it - then the first step is to locate and make friends with your local pallet yard. Here are a couple of shots of my own local yard, which may give you some idea of the size of their operation:



Within such a large operation, the guys have no use at all for broken or non-standard pallets - which is where someone like myself comes into the picture ...

Here's a shot of some of my 2016 stock awaiting stacking:


You may notice that many of these pallets have been constructed using 'stringers' - these being fairly substantial timbers (typically 3"x2") which support the deck above them, which is typically made from between 7 to 10 planks, which vary both in their thickness and width. I find stringers to be useful for making hive stands or legs, with the planks - once having been sorted into similar thicknesses - being used to make the boxes themselves.

Here's a photograph of some of my older stock - in these, you may notice that the role of stringers has been taken by blocks of wood, typically 3" cubes, which have no obvious use and so tend to end-up as winter fuel for a wood-burning stove:


At first sight these pallets might look like just so much firewood, but what follows are some of the methods I use for the salvaging of much of this timber.

The technique employed in the dismantling of a pallets will depend largely on the state of the nails used. When pallets are fairly new, they can often be easily separated by the judicious use of a hammer, but when very old and with heavily rusted-in nails - the use of a hammer can often result in badly split planks. And so when faced with such pallets, I simply first remove the end stringers with a hand-held circular saw ...


... before removing the nail heads with a worn-down grinding disk fitted into an angle grinder, before pulling the planks away one-by-one:


Admittedly, this method results in unsightly grooves cut into the planks, but these can very easily be filled-in with automotive polyester body-filler - which I find to be a vastly superior product in comparison with any of the purpose-made wood-fillers currently on the market.

Here's the result of a couple of hours work:


And a 'before and after' shot taken a few years ago of pallet-wood planks which were destined to become a Long Hive: (I now use ex-scaffold planks when making static Long Hives, as these are twice as thick and thus much stronger)


... and here's another more recent 'before and after' shot prior to any filler being applied - showing the flap disks I use for the rapid cleaning-up of pallet wood. A belt sander would be a far better tool to use for this job - but I don't happen to own one:


Ok - so having talked a little about pallet wood and having shown some examples of the resulting (and free !) timber - the next few pages will focus upon some of the methods I currently use to convert dismantled pallet wood into useful beekeeping products.


(continued on the next page ...)

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