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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:

pallet_yard_1

pallet_yard_2

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:

pallet_hunting

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:

pallets3

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 ...

trim_stringers

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

nail_heads

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:

pallet_stock

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)

before_after

... 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:

clean-up

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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