If you’ve ever disassembled a wooden pallet, you know firsthand just how difficult the process can get. Without the right tool for the job, you’re trying to remove nails from very hardwoods that are as stubborn as can be in a frustrating and time-consuming effort.
As they say; half the job is having the right tool. Well, when you need to tear apart a pallet, a pallet breaker is the right tool. You might not expect there to be much selection on such a specialized tool, but it turns out that there are tons of these tools on the market.
In my search for the best pallet buster tool, I tried out quite a few of these and got a good feel for what makes each one better or worse. I’d like to share some of that knowledge in the following ten reviews to help you decide which one is the right tool for you.
Top Picks for Best Pallet Buster Tool in 2020:
- Vestil Deluxe Steel Pallet Buster
- Molomax Pallet Buster Deluxe
- TUFFIOM Pallet Buster Tool
- Duckbill Deck Wrecker
- Vergo Industrial Pallet Buster/Pallet Breaker
Other Good Choices:
- Roughneck 64640 Demolition And Lifting Bar
- Stoic Tools Pallet Buster
- U.S. Solid Pallet Buster Wood Dismantling Tool
- Estwing Gooseneck Wrecking Bar PRO
- Crescent Brand BLACK Indexing Flat Pry Bar
- Best Pallet Buster Reviews
- 1. Vestil SKB-DLX Deluxe Steel Pallet Buster with Handle
- 2. Molomax Pallet Buster Deluxe with Nail Removal
- 3. TUFFIOM 44-Inch Pallet Buster Tool
- 4. Duckbill Deck Wrecker
- 5. Vergo Industrial Pallet Buster/Pallet Breaker
- 6. Roughneck 64640 Demolition And Lifting Bar
- 7. Stoic Tools Pallet Buster
- 8. U.S. Solid Pallet Buster, Wood Dismantling Tool
- 9. Estwing Gooseneck Wrecking Bar PRO – 36″ Pry Bar
- 10. Crescent Brand BLACK DB18X 18 Indexing Flat Prybar
- Bonus: Nail Removers / Pullers
- What is a Pallet Buster?
- What to Look for When Buying Pallet Breaker
- How to Use Pallet Buster
- DIY Pallet Buster
- Alternative Ways to Disassemble a Pallet
Best Pallet Buster Reviews
After searching low and high, the following ten tools are the best pallet breaking devices I’ve discovered. Eight of them are actual pallet busters. The last two are extremely useful pry bars that are great for pulling apart pallets but will also serve tons of other uses. Every tool on this list is a great choice, though some minor differences that we’ll discuss separate them.
1. Vestil SKB-DLX Deluxe Steel Pallet Buster with HandleWhen it comes to busting apart pallets, leverage is the name of the game. Those pallets are tough, and without proper leverage, it can be an exercise in futility attempting to break them apart. That’s why the Vestil Deluxe Steel Pallet Buster has a 45-inch handle; to give you plenty of leverage so you can pop the boards right off the pallet without breaking your back.
But taking the pallet apart is only part of the struggle. If you want to use those boards for something else, then you have to ensure they don’t get damaged or destroyed during the removal process.
To that end, this pallet breaker has an articulating head. This allows it to gently remove the boards from the pallet without splitting, cracking, or otherwise damaging them.At 12 pounds, this is a pretty stout tool. It’s made from solid metal and the handle is very thick to ensure that even when you’re applying maximum pressure, the tool will hold up and won’t bend or shatter.
The gap between the forks is 3.5 inches at the smallest point. This is the perfect size for ripping apart standard pallets, but unfortunately, it’s too small to yank apart oversized pallets made with 4-inch wide wood. Still, it’s the perfect tool for pulling apart any regular-sized pallet and can even be used for yanking off decking boards as well.
- The long handle provides leverage
- Heavy and solid so it won’t break
- Won’t split, crack, or damage the pallet boards
- Forks are small for oversized pallets
2. Molomax Pallet Buster Deluxe with Nail RemovalThe biggest drawback with many types of pallet breaking tools is that the forks aren’t wide enough to fit over the larger boards used on oversized pallets. But the Molomax Pallet Buster Deluxe seeks to solve this problem. Its forks are spread four inches apart, giving this pallet breaker ample space to fit over a 2×4 to disassemble pallets made with larger wood. In fact, it’s the only pallet buster with large enough forks to do so!
Another great feature of this pallet dismantler bar is that it comes apart. The handle breaks down into three separate pieces and the foot comes off as well. This is great for storage or transportation since the entire tool breaks into pieces and doesn’t take up much space. But that also means you have to go through the hassle of reassembling it every time you want to pull apart a pallet.
If you were trying to pull apart pallets with a crowbar and hammer, you’d likely ruin most of the boards. But with the Molomax Pallet Buster Deluxe, you can yank the boards off without causing any damage to them. There’s even a nail removal tool cut into the back of the pallet buster so that you can easily remove any nails without having to reach for a separate tool.
- Disassembles for easy storage or transport
- 4” forks fit over 2x4s
- Nail puller built-in
- Have to reassemble every time you want to break apart a pallet
3. TUFFIOM 44-Inch Pallet Buster ToolWith an extended handle that reaches a full 44 inches, the TUFFIOM Pallet Buster Tool provides plenty of leverage to make popping off pallet boards an easy job. No more straining and pulling with all your might. This tool does the hard work for you and speeds up the process considerably.
It’s made from heavy-duty iron and built tough to last through years of abuse. At just under 16 pounds, it’s a pretty hefty tool that’s got enough weight behind it to really lend you some power when you need it for taking off stubborn pallet boards. Plus, it’s even covered by a one-year warranty, so you can rest assured that no matter how hard you abuse this tool, it’s going to last.
This tool has a rotating head so that it can remove boards without causing too much damage. But it does break some boards, especially if the nails aren’t removed first. Luckily, this tool also comes with a nail puller so you can yank the nails out ahead of time and make it easier to save the boards.
You can get the TUFFIOM Pallet Buster in black, yellow, or blue finishes. But don’t expect the finish to stay perfect. After ripping apart a few hundred pallets, you’re sure to see scratches and wear in the paint.
- 44” handle provides great leverage
- Rotating head limits damage to boards
- Nail remover included
- Does damage some boards
- The paint tends to wear off
4. Duckbill Deck WreckerIf a clever name was all it took to be a great tool, then there’s no question that the Duckbill Deck Wrecker would be the best tool for the job. Luckily, it’s more than just a great name because this tool performs exceptionally well. And it is better for the high price this pallet breaker sells for!
With two large metal hooks built-in to pry up the boards from underneath and an extra-long 54-inch handle, this tool provides plenty of leverage to help lift even the most stubborn pallet boards. But it’s usable for more than just pallets; this tool can be used to remove decking boards, roof joists, wood siding, and more.
The “teeth” look like they might damage your boards, but they don’t. Still, the boards can crack or split during removal, even though the rotating head lets you get in close and get a solid hold on each board. Fewer boards will break if you remove some of the nails first, but this pallet breaker doesn’t include one.
Another drawback is that this tool has a pretty narrow spread of about three inches at the forks. This is fine for fitting over the smaller boards used in standard-sized pallets, but if you want to remove deck boards off a 4×4 or you want to disassemble an oversized pallet, you’ll probably need a tool with a wider set of forks.
- Provides tons of leverage
- Extra-long handle
- Great for pallets, decking boards, roof joists, wood siding, and more
- 3” forks won’t fit over a 4×4
- No nail remover
5. Vergo Industrial Pallet Buster/Pallet BreakerPerfect for disassembling pallets and removing dock boards, the Vergo Industrial Pallet Buster/Pallet Breaker is a premium tool with some impressive features. For instance, it’s equipped with an articulating head. This allows you to remove the boards without breaking or splitting the wood so that they can be repurposed for another project. Without this feature, you’ll likely break just as many boards as you remove whole!
This tool is made from solid steel so that it’s durable and can withstand the daily abuse of breaking pallets apart. It weighs 14 pounds, providing leverage and stability for when you’re yanking on boards. But the 41-inch handle leaves something to be desired. Compared to the 45-inch and even 54-inch handles on some other models, this handle is a bit too short. It doesn’t provide quite enough leverage for when you’re struggling with those stubborn boards.
For regular-sized pallets, this tool is perfect. But the forks are a little bit narrow for large pallets or even pallets that have boards spaced too closely together. Still, it’s built tough enough to handle pallets made from even the hardest woods like oak or maple, so unless you plan on pulling apart a ton of oversized pallets, it’s a great tool for the job.
- Articulating head helps preserve boards
- Heavy-duty steel construction can pull apart hardwood pallets with ease
- Also great for removing dock boards
- The 41-inch handle is too short to provide much leverage
- Forks are small to fit over a 4” board
6. Roughneck 64640 Demolition And Lifting BarExpensive doesn’t always mean better; a concept that’s proven by the Roughneck 64640 Demolition And Lifting Bar. This tool is priced quite affordably when compared to other similar tools. Granted, it’s certainly not quite as tough or durable as some of the solid steel pallet breakers we’ve seen so far, but it’s a great option when you only have a few pallets to disassemble or you know it’s only going to see occasional use.
With a 38-inch handle, you’re not going to get as much leverage with this bar as you would with a breaker that has a longer handle over 40 inches. But this tool isn’t built to rip apart the same hardwood pallets. It’s more suited for lighter-duty pallets that aren’t quite as tough.
In fact, this tool weighs less than six pounds, so it’s about one-third the weight of some of the other pallet busters we’ve covered. On the other hand, this makes it a great option for ladies, teens, or anyone who might struggle with the heavier pallet breakers.
Since the head on this bar doesn’t articulate, you’ll have to be careful not to break the boards as you remove them. Still, it will allow you to disassemble an entire pallet in under five minutes, making it a great option when you want to break apart pallets on a budget.
- Light weight makes it easier for smaller individuals
- Affordably priced
- Can disassemble a pallet in under five minutes
- The short handle doesn’t provide much leverage
- Head doesn’t articulate
7. Stoic Tools Pallet BusterSolid and simple, the Stoic Tools Pallet Buster is a great tool for removing boards from just about any situation. Whether you’re taking the boards off of a pallet, deck, roof joist, or removing wooden siding, this tool is capable of it all. It seems like a tough-built tool at first, with thick, strong welds on the tongs of the fork.
If you’re ripping apart softwood pallets, this tool will perform admirably. It yanks them apart with relative ease and makes the entire job pretty quick and painless. But if you attempt to pull apart some hardwood pallets with this pallet separator, you might have a different experience. Hardwoods can actually bend the fork of this tool when you apply too much pressure! It might seem tough, but this tool isn’t quite as rugged as it appears.
At just 13 pounds, this tool is a bit lighter than some of the others, though it’s also not quite as durable. It’s got a 41.5-inch long handle, which is plenty to provide leverage for the softer woods this tool can pull apart. Unfortunately, the space between the forks is just 2.75 inches. This means you’re not getting it over a 4×4 or even two 2x4s that are set against each other. Still, for basic pallet and deck board removal, this tool is perfectly applicable.
- Can remove more than just pallet boards
- Great for removing softwoods
- Plenty of leverage for removing softwoods
- Small fork space won’t fit over a 4×4
- Not strong enough to yank hardwoods
8. U.S. Solid Pallet Buster, Wood Dismantling ToolIf you’re looking to save some money and don’t mind a little DIY tool completion, the U.S. Solid Pallet Buster Wood Dismantling Tool might be your answer. It’s a solid steel pallet buster head with a secure locking pin to hold the handle in place.
However, no handle is included. This is where the DIY comes in. You’ll need to fashion yourself a handle from any 1.25-inch diameter steel pipe. This allows you some serious customizability. You could make the handle any length you want. A short handle makes it more maneuverable but a longer handle will give you more leverage. You can even have both and use them for different occasions.
If you’re tired of breaking boards while trying to remove them, then this tool offers a solution. It rarely breaks any boards during removal, allowing you to save and repurpose each of them for something else. Since many people are disassembling pallets for this purpose, this is an extremely useful feature.
Thankfully, this pallet breaker head is built tough enough to withstand just about anything you throw at it. It’s even covered by a one-year warranty, so no matter what happens that first year, you can rest assured that your pallet dismantling tool will survive it.
- Doesn’t break many boards
- Solid steel construction won’t break
- You can make the handle any length you want
- It’s a cost-effective solution
- No handle is included
9. Estwing Gooseneck Wrecking Bar PRO – 36″ Pry BarMore affordable and definitely more versatile than a standard pallet breaker, the Estwing Gooseneck Wrecking Bar PRO is a great tool for a plethora of jobs. You’ll find yourself using this tool on everything from pulling pallets apart to working on vehicles. Its list of uses is endless.
Luckily, this 36-inch pry bar is made from solid steel. This means you can pry as hard as you want and you won’t see your bar bending. It’s even got a high leverage designed that produces maximum torque for prying boards and even for pulling nails as well.
To that end, it’s got a slotted nail puller built-in, making it easier than ever before to yank the nails that cause your boards to break. But keep in mind, you’ll never get quite the same amount of leverage from this tool as the much longer pallet breakers.
On one end, you get an angled chisel tip that’s great for prying and lifting. On the other side, you have a 90-degree pry bar head that’s rounded for extra torque and leverage. There’s even a vinyl grip built-in so that you don’t destroy your hands while you’re exerting maximum force on the pry bar.
Another great benefit to this pry bar is its low cost. Considering how useful a pry bar can be, this tool will be far more valuable than the price you pay for it, which is already quite affordable.
- Solid steel construction is built to last
- Not as much leverage as the pallet breakers
10. Crescent Brand BLACK DB18X 18 Indexing Flat PrybarFlat bars are incredibly useful tools that find themselves performing a wide variety of functions. They’re a bit of an “everything” tool. The Crescent Brand BLACK Indexing Flat Pry Bar takes things a step further with the indexing head. This allows it over 180 degrees of movement so you can position the prying head at any angle you like. You can even lock it into 16 different positions, providing you the ultimate in flexibility.
When pulling apart pallets, sometimes, you don’t have any overhang on the ends. This can make the boards exceptionally difficult to remove with a regular pallet buster. But this flathead pry bar can remove those difficult boards with ease. Simply wedge it under the board from the end and pry. Since you’ll be prying right where the nails are located, the wood won’t break.
Of course, you’ll likely find a ton more uses for your pry bar. These tools are infinitely useful and will quickly become a staple in your tool collection. Even better, they’re very affordably priced. You can pick one up for less than the cost of a dedicated pallet breaker and you’ll be able to do a lot more than just disassemble pallets with it! The only drawback is that it won’t offer as much leverage since it has a much shorter handle.
- Affordably priced
- Has tons of uses
- Indexing head moves 180 degrees and locks into 16 positions
- The short handle doesn’t provide much leverage.
Bonus: Nail Removers / Pullers
Some of the pallet separators we’ve covered had nail pullers built-in, but not all of them. When you’re pulling pallets apart, you’ll find that it’s the nails that cause the most damage. They can be quite stubborn and they don’t want to let go of the boards they’re holding.
Even with a pallet buster with an articulating head, you won’t always be able to remove every board without damage. But if you remove the nails, you’ll be able to get the boards much easier and cause far less damage. To help, I’ve decided to include reviews of my two favorite nail pullers so that you can see how useful they are. Hopefully, they’ll help you save more boards for your next project.
Air Locker AP700 Nail Remover / Nail PullerWhen you think of a nail puller, most people probably imagine something that looks like a tiny pry bar, a small cat’s paw, or the claw at the end of a hammer. But that’s a bit old fashioned. Let’s try something more industrial like the Air Locker AP700 Nail Remover. This is a pneumatic tool that needs an air compressor to power it. But that should give you a glimpse into what a powerful tool this is.
Once hooked up, you’ll find that this remover pops nails out in mere seconds with virtually no effort on your part. Just touch the tip to the nail head and push the trigger. The gun will immediately punch the nail through the wood so that it’s no longer holding your board up. Now you can easily remove the board without any struggle.
With this tool, you can remove the nails from an entire large-sized pallet in under one minute. If you’ve been struggling to break pallets down in a reasonable amount of time, then this tool might be your solution. At just two pounds, it’s lightweight and easily maneuverable. Plus, it’s strong enough to work with softwoods and even hardwoods such as poplar, oak, sycamore, maple, and chestnut.
- Saves you tons of time
- Removes nails from a pallet in under one minute
- Weighs just two pounds
- Requires an air compressor
Crescent 11″ Nail Puller PliersThere are many different ways to remove old nails. Crescent nail puller pliers are one of the most affordable and compact ways I know of. But don’t let the small size fool you, this is still a very capable tool that will make it easy and quick to yank the nails from any pallet.
When you look at these pliers, you’ll notice they’re a bit different than other pliers you’re used to. There’s a big metal semi-circle underneath the pliers’ mouth. That’s to help you get leverage and roll the nail out.
To use them, you’ll grasp the nail’s head with the mouth of the pliers. Then, you roll the pliers back over the semi-circle by pressing them down. This will effortlessly yank the nail out. Just be careful not to smash your fingers!
The teeth on this pair of pliers are specifically designed to give you maximum grip on a variety of nail heads. When combined with the roll bar, this compact tool can multiply your efforts and provide ample leverage for nail removal. But keep in mind, you’ll never get quite as much leverage with this tool as you would from a longer tool like a 36-inch pry bar with a nail remover built-in. Of course, these pliers are definitely much cheaper!
- Very affordable
- Compact and easy to use
- The roll bar multiplies your leverage
- Not as much leverage as you get from larger tools
What is a Pallet Buster?
As the name implies, a pallet buster is meant for easily disassembling pallets. But how does one work exactly?
A pallet breaker has a head and a long handle. The head has two prongs like a tuning fork. This allows it to be placed over the stringer boards of the pallet; the boards that run longways through the center of the pallet and all the top and bottom boards attach to.
Then, you can use the long handle to get the leverage necessary to pop the decking boards off of the stringer and disassemble the entire pallet.
What to Look for When Buying Pallet Breaker
There are many differences between the pallet crowbars we’ve covered. So, what should you be looking for when deciding on which one is right for you? Start by looking for the following traits:
- A long handle to provide plenty of leverage
- An articulating head to avoid breaking boards as you remove them
- Heavy-duty construction that won’t bend or break under pressure
- Nail puller to help remove stubborn nails and prevent breaking boards
- A wide fork if you want to disassemble oversized pallets
How to Use Pallet Buster
Using a pallet wrecking bar is simple. To start, set the fork directly on one of the stringer boards of your pallet.
Once set on a stringer board, one prong of the fork is on each side of the stringer board. You’ll then want to place the prongs under one of the upper deck boards.
Then, apply pressure on the handle pulling it backward. You might need someone to stand on the other end of the pallet so it doesn’t lift up. The prongs of the fork will pry the decking board off of the stringer board in one smooth motion.
When using a pallet buster, you’ll want to keep yourself safe by taking proper safety precautions. For instance, you should always wear gloves and safety glasses to protect yourself from splintering boards. Also, be aware of your feet. Pallets can lift up and pinch your feet under them when you’re using a pallet breaker, so be careful.
DIY Pallet Buster
If a professional pallet breaking tool is too expensive or you just prefer to go the DIY route, you can try making a DIY pallet breaker tool that’s just as effective but much less costly.
To create your homemade pallet buster you’ll need some 3/4” black pipe, a 90-degree fitting, some bolts and nuts, and some steel angle brackets.
Screw the 90-degree fitting onto the end of your black pipe. Then, drill two holes so that you can attach the steel angle brackets; one through the fitting and one through the pipe.
Using the bolts and nuts, attach the steel angle brackets to the pipe with one bracket on each side. Make sure they’re both pointing the same direction!
And voila! Your homemade pallet breaker is complete. Just stick the angle brackets on either side of your stringer board and use them to pry the running boards off the top just like a professional pallet breaker.
Alternative Ways to Disassemble a Pallet
Do you really need specialized tools to disassemble a pallet? Well, no. You can definitely manage it with the tools that are already a part of your tool collection.
Using a circular saw, slice the running boards of the pallet just inside of the nails on either end. This will slightly shorten the boards, but it will also allow you to remove them without dealing with the nails on the ends. Then, you simply pry the boards off from the middle with a hammer and pry bar.
This method allows you to keep the full length of the decking boards you’re removing.
First, you’ll need to pry the end of the running boards up so the nails are exposed. Then, you’ll need to use an angle grinder to cut the nails off at the bottom of the running boards. Once you finish the first side, repeat on the other side.
Finally, you’ll need to pry the boards off at the middle with a hammer and pry bar.
This method is very similar to the second method, but it’s a bit quicker and a little less clean.
Instead of prying the boards up so you can reach the nails with an angle grinder, you’re just going to run a Sawzall down the seam, underneath the running boards. With this method, there’s no need to pry the boards up ahead of time.
Once you cut the nails on both sides, you can easily pop the boards from the middle with a hammer and pry bar.
As you can see, there are plenty of pallet demolition bars on the market and just as many other methods for disassembling pallets. Whether you prefer a store-bought solution made from solid steel, a homemade device crafted from iron pipe and angle brackets, or you just want to make it work with the tools you’ve got available, hopefully, this article has helped you to find your solution.
If this article helped you out, please feel free to share it with others who might also need the information. For any questions or comments left in the comments box below, I’ll do my best to answer them as quickly as possible.