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Old 08-21-2011, 11:06 PM   #1
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Default Pallet wood

To begin with, I mean no disrespect for anybody using pallet wood - I've used some myself. But I would like to throw up a red flag using this free wood. I'm a retired Teamster (truck driver) which means I've spent years moving those pallets around. I also don't want to scare anyone, but I feel compelled to throw up the red flag.

Considering today's economy - pallets can come from any place in the world which means that what may look like walnut may be an exotic wood. Exotic woods may be good looking, but they may also cause serious health problems. Worse then that, although the transportation industry is well regulated when it comes to containers (shippers are required to list empty containers which held hazardous materials as "last said to contain [haz mat UN # etc.]" and the reporting of hazmat spills etc., there are no rules or regulations about pallets. If a pallet had poison containers on them and a container leaked, shippers, receivers and drivers have protocols to follow so they can properly deal with the spill, but none of these regulations deal with the pallets. Common sense would dictate to properly dispose of this pallet, but that would be costly to the companies... so they end up being thrown into a pile and eventually reused.

Sorry if I'm scaring anybody... but sometimes "free" is to good to be true. Like4 I've stated - I've used free pallet wood in the past. Just be careful with it. If it looks stained... think about using it. If you use use it... think about wearing a mask or other protective breathing system!
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Old 08-22-2011, 12:48 AM   #2
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Thanks for the heads-up!
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Old 08-22-2011, 12:59 AM   #3
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I know it's hard to pass up free, but especially if you can find a sawmill in your area that will let you buy direct, you may find that it's not worth the time and risks involved with reusing pallet wood. Aside from the health risk mentioned above, there is always a danger to you and your tools from hidden nails or even rocks that may be embedded in the wood.
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Old 08-22-2011, 06:58 AM   #4
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Like the saying says. "Nothing is really free, it cost somewhere donw the line".
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Old 08-22-2011, 07:58 AM   #5
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Bernie, that makes good sense. Thanks for the warning.
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Old 08-22-2011, 08:14 AM   #6
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Thanks for the heads up Bernie. I have used pallet wood in the past and was well aware of the danger of hidden nails and grit to both my tools and myself, but never thought about the chemical spill (leak) possibilities.

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Old 08-22-2011, 11:22 AM   #7
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That is a good tip, thanks for bringing it up.
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Old 08-23-2011, 11:46 AM   #8
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I've never used pallet wood before but I've thought about it a few times. I think I just changed my way of thinking. David
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Old 08-23-2011, 05:10 PM   #9
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Do not be too quick to condemn all pallets as being suspect.

There are pallets that are intended to be used multiple times by any company that palletizes their product. This type of pallet could be suspect.

Then there are purpose built pallets and crates that carry a specific product one time and are discarded. These are the ones I seek out. The wood in the ones I am currently using is milled from logs specifically for the pallet / crate. The pallet / crate is built, loaded with the companies product (windows), shipped by the truck load and discarded once the product is removed.

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Old 08-24-2011, 12:06 AM   #10
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Thanks for the post Bob because you are correct. Not all pallets are bad. Like I originally posted... I've used pallet wood in the past and I now continue to breath normally. But my original post was to warn folks to be careful using pallet wood because it can be problematic. I belong to another popular wood working site through which a member posted a whole kitchen (cabinets, counters, and extras made strictly from pallet wood and the kitchen looks GREAT). But another member posted a long list of medical problems he has had to deal with because he used an exotic wood (not pallet wood - in today's economy [global], pallets are made from local woods which may be exotic to us).

We all need to be careful and aware of what we are doing. Pallet wood can be a very good source of free wood and this wood can be very attractive. Be cautious using it! Wear protective breathing apparatus and clothing if you don't know what type of wood you are using and be cautious if you do not know the history behind the pallet. Be SAFE!
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