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Nailing Table Review -- Nailing Tables, Jigs Aid Workers, Improve Production and Quality
Even large companies rely on hand nailing to assemble some small orders and custom pallets; nailing tables, stations and jigs are low-tech but provide important benefits.

By Staff
Date Posted: 7/1/2005

Even at large pallet manufacturing or recycling companies, assembling and repairing pallets by hand with the aid of pneumatic nailing tools is integral to doing business.

Companies that specialize in manufacturing new pallets invariably supply some customers with odd-size pallets or small orders that do not lend themselves well to automated assembly on pallet nailing machines. For these custom pallets, hand nailing is the assembly method of choice.

In pallet recycling operations, workers equipped with pneumatic nailing tools are essential to perform the standard type of pallet repairs, such as replacing a damaged leading edge deck board or a broken stringer. Hand nailing also is widespread for assembling combination or ‘combo’ pallets – pallets made from a combination of new material and recycled lumber – as well as remanufactured pallets – those ‘new’ pallets built from100% recycled deck boards and stringers.

Similarly, pneumatic nailing tools and hand assembly
methods are commonly used for building wooden crates and containers.

The equipment and environment used to perform these tasks often are decidedly low-tech. Working alone or in pairs, some employees nail together components resting on the shop or plant floor. Others literally throw the deck boards over the stringers, quickly separating them by hand and nailing them together. A short stack of pallets may serve as a work table or bench. In more sophisticated operations, jigs made from lumber or fabricated from steel may be used to hold and properly space the pallet components while they are being fastened to one another.

A number of pallet industry suppliers manufacture and sell equipment to aid in hand assembly and pallet repairs. The equipment they offer can aid in pallet production, pallet quality, and provide important ergonomic benefits to employees.

Nailing tables or nailing stations and jigs provide a durable work station for assembling pallets. Even the simplest of steel tables can aid the worker. The working surface is at a comfortable height to reduce lower back strain. Tables frequently are constructed with a crown or dome in the center, which makes it easy for the worker to rotate or spin the pallet; that single benefit reduces the strain associated with turning the pallet around or bending over the pallet to nail the side furthest away from the worker. Tables and benches may have recessed legs to avoid interfering with the worker’s feet, and they may be equipped with a simple shelf and hooks to store tools and supplies.

Some nailing stations and jigs are built so that the working surface of the pallet is on an incline. The angled work area makes it easy for the employee to insert the components into the jig and nail the lumber together because it eliminates reaching and bending associated with those tasks.

Suppliers also can equip nailing stations and jigs in such a way to suspend the pneumatic nailing tool over the work area; the tools can be hung from a zero gravity balancer. The addition of this simple equipment provides further ergonomic benefits. The tool is always returned to the same place, and the strain
of repeatedly picking up the tool and putting it down is

Companies reap the benefits of improved ergonomics in two ways: employees with less fatigue and strain can work faster and generally are less prone to the sloppy work performance associated with being tired and sore.

Jigs certainly improve pallet quality given the worker’s ability to space the lumber properly for every pallet. Stops typically are adjustable for different pallets, and some nailing stations come equipped with an automatic stacker.

Tables and work stations designed for pallet repair tasks may have standard or optional equipment to reduce the labor involved in these normally arduous activities. For example, tables may be equipped with pneumatic-powered clamps to hold a pallet while broken lumber is removed. Other pneumatic-powered equipment takes the labor out of rotating the pallet or flipping it over.

Stations for pallet repairs can be similarly equipped with a frame to suspend the pneumatic nailing tool overhead with a zero gravity balancer.

Suppliers typically provide tables and benches in a couple of sizes. In addition, most provide custom design and manufacturing services to supply nailing stations, jigs or repair tables to spec for specialty pallets. Their equipment also may be designed to allow integration with conveyors, gravity rollers and other machinery and equipment for a more systematic approach to pallet recycling and even complete automated pallet repair or recycling systems.

On the following pages we have listed participating suppliers who provide nailing tables, stations and jigs. Suppliers are listed alphabetically along with a contact phone number, Web site address, and a brief description of their products.

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