A few days ago some guys were talking about using recycled wood. With the one of the big "buzzwords" of the day being "green," it seems more and more of us are looking for ways to reuse something and (maybe) save a buck in the process.
One of the most popular and readily available sources for reusable wood is pallets. I have seen pallets made of oak, mahogany, maple as well as fir and pine. I have dismantled many of the latter when I needed a chunk of 2x4 for some shop project but when I see an oak pallet I can't help but think that there's enough wood there for at lease something small… a box or… well… something.
But I always remember an old friend trying to take an oak pallet apart once and I think twice. This particular pallet was put together with ring shank nails and the oak was dry as a bone. There was simply no way to get those nails to come out. After at least an hour of hard trying, my friend gave up and figured he would just cut out the "good parts." Another hour later he was still looking at a fully intact pallet only with one plank sawed through about half way and a totally overheated skill saw with a blade that looked like someone had been trying to cut rocks with it.
Not ready to admit defeat, my friend went for his chain saw, thinking he was going to get something out of that pallet one way or the other. Another hour. A very hot chainsaw with a very dull chain. But finally, a pile of what could only be qualified as firewood. That wood was so hard, he figured it would burn for a long time and so it did. Once he had burned all of the wood, he cleaned out his stove and rescued about three pounds of ring shank nails. Thinking that he would maximize his use of that pallet, he took the can of nails out to his shop and tried to use them a few days later to re-nail some loose fence boards. But the heat from the fire had softened the steel to the point where the nails bent at first blow.
At that point, he gave up on pallet wood and tossed the can of nails in to a scrap pile in the back yard. They surfaced again a few weeks later in a very amusing manner but that's a story for another day …