When it comes to the industrial wood and packaging industry, there are a lot of very specific terms we use to describe different pallet parts. The terminology we use, as an industry, to describe pallets is something you might need to know for a variety of reasons.
It definitely helps you to know what pallet parts are called when you’re discussing your pallet needs with a wood packaging partner. Being able to effectively communicate your specifications helps to ensure that you get exactly what you need. Pallets look pretty simple, but the reality is that pallet design consists of many different factors and pallet parts. Knowing the correct terminology for pallet parts will make the design, quote, and ordering process much easier for you.
Let’s take a look at the most common pallet parts and terminology.
Pallet Parts and Terminology
Annular Ring Nails (also called Ring Shank) – These are one of the most common types of fasteners used in pallet design. In essence, it is a nail with circular ring threads on the shank.
Banding Groove – Dunnage with a groove cut into the length of the lumber. It is used to protect unit loads from damage when banding is tightened down to secure a load onto a pallet.
Blocks – A square or rectangular piece of wood that are placed between the pallet decks or beneath the top deck. Some blocks can even be cylindrical. Generally, blocks are located at each corner of a pallet, centered on each of the four sides, and in the middle of each pallet. Placement is crucial to ensure block pallet strength.
Block Pallet – A type of pallet that uses blocks to form its base instead of stringers.
Bottom Deck – The deck boards on the bottom of a pallet that are sitting on the ground or floor.
Butted Deck Board – The name given to an inner deck board that is attached to an adjacent deck board during assembly to help strengthen it. These are often used when recycling pallets and pallet parts.
CAD – Stands for Computer Aided Design and helps pallet designers design packaging solutions.
Chamfered Deck Boards – Deck boards with the edges beveled. They are usually only beveled on one or two faces, and allow pallet jack wheels to enter the pallet more easily.
Collar – A wooden container or bin that is turns a pallet into a box.
Container Bin Pallet – This is basically a crate, box, container, or four-sided structure mounted on a pallet base.
Deck – The boards or panels that make up the top or bottom surface of a pallet.
Deck Board – The component boards or panels that make up a deck.
Deck Board Spacing – The distance between deck boards on a deck.
Deck Board Span – The distance between the deck board supports. Could refer to the distance between stringers or blocks.
Deck Mat – The assembled deck boards and stringers that make up the deck of a block pallet.
Deflection – The amount of bending or deformation in a pallet under load. Could refer to the whole pallet or a specific pallet part.
Double Face Pallet – A pallet built with both top and bottom decks.
Economic Life (of a pallet) – The number of trips a pallet is expected to make in its serviceable lifetime, provided that it remains properly repaired.
EURO Pallet – Block pallets built to European Pallet Association specifications. They usually have a branded logo on them.
Fastener – A component used to join pallet parts together, such as nails, screws, bolts, or staples.
Flush Pallet – A pallet where the deck boards are even, or flush, with the stringers or blocks along the sides of the pallet.
Fork Entry – The opening between decks and beneath the top deck of a pallet where forklift forks can be inserted to lift the pallet and load. Sometimes stringers will have notches in them to allow for fork entry.
Four-Way Block Pallet – A block pallet that has openings on all four sides of the pallet to admit pallet jack entry.
Four-Way Stringer Pallet – A stringer pallet that has notches cut in the stringers to allow for pallet jack entry.
GMA or Grocery Manufacturers of America – Thee GMA has their own specific pallet requirements for their standard pallets.
Hardwood – The type of wood that comes from deciduous trees. Generally, these are the trees with leaves instead of needles, but there are exceptions. Although called hardwood, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s hare or dense. It depends on the species of tree the wood comes from.
Inner Deck Board – Any deck board that is positioned between the end deck boards.
Joint – The point at which the components of a pallet intersect or connect. They are often identified as the end joint, center joint and corner joint.
Length – In general, this is the first dimension given to describe a pallet and refers to the stringer or stringer board length. For example a standard 48” x 40” pallet length is 48”, and is also the length of the pallet’s stringer.
Line Load – When the weight of a unit load is concentrated in a narrow area across the full length or width of a pallet.
Load Bearing Surface – The area of a pallet in contact with and supporting the weight of the unit load.
Multiple Use Pallet – A pallet designed to be used for several trips with different unit loads.
Non-Reversible Pallet – Describes a pallet where the bottom deck boards are configured differently from the top deck boards.
Notch – A cutout in the wood of a pallet part. It could refer to something like the notch in banding groove, or the notch in a notched stringer.
Notched Stringer – On a pallet, this is a stringer that has notches cut out of it to allow entry for forklift tines. The notch is usually ½” to 1” in depth and 9” long, depending on the size of the pallet.
Opening Height – This refers to the vertical distance between decks on a pallet. It’s measured from the floor to the top of the stringer notch, or from the floor to the underside of the top deck.
Overhang – The distance that the pallet deck extends past the outer edge of the stringer or stringer board. It’s also called a wing or lip. Overhang can also refer to the distance that a unit load extends beyond the pallet deck.
Pallet Life – The length of time that a pallet remains useful. It’s usually expressed in the number of one-way trips that the pallet is expected to make or in units of time.
Panel Deck Pallet – A pallet constructed with some type of paneling product (OSB, composite, etc.) for the top deck.
PDS – Stands for Pallet Design System and is a computer aided design program that helps engineers to design pallets to safely carry a load and maximize the supply chain.
Recycled Pallet – A previously used pallet that is recycled and has been repaired for reuse with replacement pallet parts as needed. It’s also referred to as a refurbished or reconditioned pallet.
Remanufactured Pallet – A pallet that’s been built from reclaimed pallet parts. Sometimes they are also built from a combination of new and reclaimed pallet parts.
Skid – A pallet with no bottom deck that rests on the stringers. It’s a little like a sled on rails.
Slave Pallet – A support base for a palletized load in rack-storage facilities or production systems.
Softwood – Softwood comes from evergreen trees. Generally, they have needles instead of leaves, but there are exceptions. The term softwood does not necessarily mean that the wood is a soft wood.
Solid Deck Pallet – Refers to a pallet that is constructed with no spacing between deck boards.
Span – The distance between block supports, stringer boards, or stringers.
Stevedore Pallet – Designed for seaport shipping docks, this pallet is designed with heavy-duty, double-wings.
Strapping – Flat, thin bands that are used to secure a load to a pallet. Often used with banding groove.
Strap Slot (also called a Banding Notch) – The notch or cutout on the bottom edge if the top deck board or the top edge of a stringer. It allows for strapping or banding to tie down a unit load.
Stringer – A solid or notched piece of lumber that is used to support the deck components on a pallet. Stringers run perpendicular to the deck components and there are usually one on each side of the pallet and one in the center.
Stringer Board – Refers to the solid boards that extend the full length of a block pallet and run perpendicular to the deck boards. Stringer boards are placed between the deck and the blocks.
SYP – Stands for Southern Yellow Pine, and it’s the wood most often used in wood protective packaging.
Take-It-Or-Leave-It Pallet – Refers to a pallet with fixed cleats on the top deck that provide a location for forklift tines to get under the unit load and lift the load off of the pallet.
Top Cap – A panel that is placed on top of unit load to protect is from strapping.
Two-Way Entry Pallet – A stringer pallet that does not have any notched stringers. Forklift tines can only enter the pallet on the ends.
Unit Load – The palletized goods sitting on a pallet.
Wing Pallet – A pallet with the top and bottom deck boards extending past the edge of the stringers. Can also be a double-wing pallet if both sides extend past the edge of the stringers. Wing pallets can be single wing or double wing.