No Lumber Left Behind: Reclaiming a Shipping Crate

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In these days when the prices of timber and sheet metal are getting worse, I find it even more difficult than usual to give up usable material and let it end up in landfills.

I have always dedicated myself to the recovery, conservation and reuse of materials, and in particular of items related to woodworking. My penchant for saving furniture, scrap pieces of wood, or even hardware that I am able to disassemble from discarded pieces is well documented. In fact, I even wrote a book about it – Working with reclaimed wood. In it, among other topics, I showed ways to recover wood from worldly sources such as pallet wood and the like. However, in my chapter on extracting screws and nails, I didn’t include a sub-category on removing staples.

This week a large crate of OSB and lumber arrived at my shop with my new 8 inch Grizzly Jointer. This paper provided me with the opportunity to document the staple removal process, which I detail below.

Know your tools

A screwdriver, a crowbar, a cat’s paw, a carpenter’s hammer and a … pliers to extract the nails (the pliers for cutting the ends) are my favorite tools and mine Shark Prybar and Nail Puller it’s the tool I use the most.

the paper

The framed panels of the crate were connected to each other with screws. So I used an impact wrench and crowbar to disconnect them.

Next, I had to deal with the stapled OSB and Lamber frames. With a hammer or two on the flat part of the instrument head, I was able to send the cat’s paw to work its way under the paper clip.

Then I lift the paper clip and release it from the wood. By the way, once the staple head has been pulled up enough, you can use a set of nail pliers to do the pulling job.

In some cases, it would be useful to start the separation of the two stapled materials by wedging a tool between them and then separating the two. This reduces the risk of the clip head breaking and leaving the clip legs stuck in the wood. Crowbars with a wider hoof will be able to do this job more elegantly than regular bars which could dent or depress the wood. On this note, the flat part of the Shark tool is great for bending / forcing and possibly separating layers of sandwich material.

After OSB and 2 × 4 were separated, I hammered the staple legs and pushed them out. Then I grabbed the head of the paperclip with a set of pliers and completed the extraction from the other side.

After separating the OSB from the 2 × 4, I flipped the board over and hammered the staple legs.

Once the staple head is revealed, you can use a set of pliers to pull it out completely.

If for some reason the legs of the paper clip have been pressed into the wood, pry up and then hammer them.

Short cuts?

In some situations, like in this case of staple overload at the end of a 2 × 4, my solution was to shorten the beam with a circular saw.

“Cut off his head” when there are only two many staples or other fasteners to worry about.

You won’t want to accidentally cut a built-in fastener that you forgot to take out. To avoid future unwanted accidents, double check the card with a metal detector. Once you are sure that the salvaged lumber is pacified, write “Delete” on it.

After two hours of work, my efforts have produced a nice crop of reusable wood. While this stuff may not be my choice for furniture making, it’s definitely good enough for use in shop, furniture hulks, and other jigs or gizmos.


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