At first glance pallets may seem relatively simplistic but anyone who has ever ordered pallets for their shipping needs understands there is much more to pallet design than a few pieces of wood. Pallets are often custom created to suit a specific need and everything from the wood, to the nails, to the fork entry is carefully selected and tested for quality. Make your next pallet order a breeze by brushing up on your pallet terminology. J.F. Rohrbaugh’s Pallet-O-Pedia provides a full glossary of terms related to the pallet industry.

Annular Nail
Pallet nail with annular (circular ring) threads rolled onto the shank.

ASTM International Wood Packaging Standards
Located in Conshohocken, PA, ASTM develops and maintains international shipping standards including IPPC.

Banding Notch

Recess or cutout on the upper edge of the stringer or the bottom of the top deckboard to allow tie-down of a unit load to the pallet deck with strapping/banding.

Reinforcement on wood containers used to hold a series of boards together to create rigidity – generally set in from each end to prevent board splitting. When used flush with the end it becomes a cleat. Blank – a flat unassembled pallet box exclusive of pallet base and top.

Four-sided superstructure to be mounted on a pallet base, with or without a cover; also known as a box or container bin pallet.

Block Pallet
A type of pallet with blocks between the pallet decks or beneath the top deck. Click here to see an example

Used for heavier applications, it offers maximum protection for goods being shipped. It’s typically completely enclosed and is used multiple times. The lumber is usually higher quality to ensure product protection. It’s stackable if needed due to the strength of each box. Click here to see an example

Chamfered Deckboards
Deckboards with edges of one or two faces beveled, either along the full or specified length of board or between the stringers of blocks, allowing easier entry of pallet jack wheels. Click here to see an example

A piece of lumber used to strengthen or support the framework of a container. Various forms of cleats include batten, diagonal, filler edge, framing, intermediate, support and through-edge.

Collapsible wooden container or bin which transforms a pallet into a box.

Used for lighter shipping applications, it offer some protection to goods being shipped. It’s usually not completely enclosed packaging and is designed for single use. The lumber is thinner for lower cost shipping. Click here to see an example

Element or component of a pallet deck, oriented perpendicular to the stringer or stringerboard. Click here to see an example

The amount of deformation or bending in a pallet or pallet component under load. Click here to see an example

Angle member placed between vertical and horizontal members within a panel to provide rigidity to a wood container or crate.

Double-Face Pallet
A pallet with top and bottom decks. Click here to see an example

Double-Wing Pallet
A pallet with top and bottom deckboards extending beyond the edges of the stringers or stringerboards. Click here to see an example

A mechanical device for joining pallet components such as nails, staples, bolts or screws.

Flush Pallet
A pallet with deckboards flush with the stringers, stringer-boards or blocks along the sides of the pallet. Click here to see an example

Fork Entry
Opening between decks, beneath the top deck or beneath the stringer notch to admit forks.

Grocery Manufacturers of America

Wood from broad-leaved species of trees (not necessarily hard or dense). Click here to see an example

Load-supporting members of the top of a container, spanning the width of the unit.

Developed by the International Plant Protection Convention (IPPC) that directly addresses the need to treat wood materials of a thickness greater than 6mm, used to ship products between countries. Its main purpose is to prevent the international transport and spread of disease and insects that could negatively affect plants or ecosystems. ISPM 15 affects all wood packaging material (pallets, crates, dunnage, etc.) requiring that they be debarked and then heat treated or fumigated with methyl bromide and stamped or branded, with a mark of compliance. This mark of compliance is colloquially known as the "wheat stamp". Products exempt from the ISPM 15 are made from alternative material, like paper, plastic or wood panel products (i.e. OSB, hardboard, and plywood).

Refers to the stringer or stringerboard (in block pallets) length; also refers to the first dimension given to describe a pallet i.e., 48″ x 40″, where 48″ is the pallet stringer/stringerboard length. Click here to see an example

Load Bearing Surface
The surface load on a pallet that determines the weight capacity limits, i.e. full uniform load, partial uniform load or point load. Click here to see an example

Parts that form the fundamental structure of both sheathed and open crate – members are typically boards. This terminology can also refer to export boxes where structure is inside panel or sheathing. Specific names include bottom/lower, cross, end, intermediate, longitudinal, side and top/upper member.

Fastener made from endless wire by cutting a point and forming a head at the shank end opposite the point.

The National Wooden Pallet and Container Association is a national association with the goal of promoting the design, manufacture, distribution, recycling, and sale of pallets, containers, and reels.

Cutout in lower portion of the stringer to allow entry for the fork tine, usually 9″ in length, 1 1/2″ in depth. Click here to see an example

The distance the deck extends from the outer edge of the stringer or stringerboard; wing; lip; distance the unit load extends beyond the deck. Click here to see an example

A portable, horizontal, rigid platform used as a base for assembling, storing, stacking, handling and transporting goods as a unit load, often equipped with a superstructure. Click here to see an example

Pallet Box
Wood container using a pallet as its base.

Pallet Design System
Pallet Design System (PDS) is a reliability-based computer-aided design (CAD) program, for determining the safe load carrying capacity, performance, life and economy of wooden pallets. Click here to see an example

Pallet Dimensions
When specifying pallet size, the stringer or stringerboard (block pallet) length is always expressed first; for example, a 48″ x 40″ pallet has a 48″ stringer or stringerboard and 40″ deckboards. Click here to see an example

Panel Deck Pallet
Pallet constructed with composite or structural panel top deck.

Racked Across Deckboards (RAD) refers to the deflection of a pallet where the rack frame supports the pallet only at the ends of the deckboards.

Racked Across Stringers (RAS) refers to the deflection of a pallet where the rack frame supports the pallet only at the ends of the stringers or stringer boards.

A pallet, container or reel that has been used, discarded, salvaged, repaired and which passes through a cycle again. Click here to see an example

Remanufactured Pallet
A pallet built from either all reclaimed (used) lumber or built from a combination of new and reclaimed lumber. Click here to see an example

Rental Pallet
A pallet owned by a third party, different from the actual pallet user.

Single-Wing Pallet
A pallet with the top deckboards extending beyond the edges of the stringers or stringer-boards with the bottom deckboards flush (if present). Click here to see an example

A pallet having no bottom deck. Also called a single face pallet. Lengthwise member of the base in a wood container. Click here to see an example

Wood from coniferous or needle-bearing trees (not necessarily soft or low density). Click here to see an example

A 3D parabolic modeling system. Click here to see an example

Continuous, longitudinal, solid or notched beam-component of the pallet used to support deck components, often identified by location as the outside or center stringer. Click here to see an example

Unit Load
Assembly of goods on a pallet for handling, moving, storing and stacking as a single entity.

Overhang of deckboard end from outside edge of stringer or stringer-board. Click here to see an example