How to Remove Nails from Wood

How to Remove Nails from Wood: Easy 7 Ways

Got lumber full of nails? I remembered the first time when I tried to remove nails from wood, and it was a mess.

There were wood pieces everywhere in my garage. Broken nail bits here and there and the lumber itself was in horrible shape.

I thought to myself. There has to be a better way to remove these stubborn pieces. Got in touch with some DIY pros, and some of the tricks they showed me literally blew my mind.

I never perceived how easy it was to pull nails out of wood. Before I get to the best part, do keep in mind that there isn’t a single solution for removing every type of nails.

Some choose to go with a nail remover, some use pry bar, claw hammer, etc. There are some other easy methods for doing this. Without further ado, let’s jump right into it.

1. Removing Nails Using Channel lock Pliers


The most common scenario I can think of is removing nails from a piece of wood trim. Say, for example, if you need to remove a photo frame or change the flooring style, you need to remove the trim first.

It also applies to other parts of the house like removing the door or window. You still need to remove that piece of wood which contains a lot of nails.

My first thought was, why don’t I use a hammer and try to knock the nail back through the wood. Well, it works. But, it’ll leave a nasty little dent on the wood.

Imagine this; if you can remove the nails without leaving any dent, you can reuse that wood trim again and again. You’ll eventually end up saving a lot of money.

What I would do is, use a standard Channel lock Pliers. Grab onto the nail from the rear and then pull it out. The rotating pressure does the job, and those nails will be popping out. 

It won’t calumniate the surface of the wood trim, and I can still use that wood piece.

Tip: This method only works on a small piece of wood. For more thicker wood, continue reading the rest of this article.

2. Let the Air Pressure Do the Work

You can use this technique to remove nails from recycled timber or pallet boards. All you need to do is get yourself an air punch. Air locker makes some of the best punch nailers out there.

It’s so easy, and so fast, you’ll be removing those stubborn nails like a pro. All you need to do is put the nail head and press the trigger and nail comes popping out.

This proves by far the quickest and most straightforward way of removing nails from wood or pallet boards.

The only downside would be getting the tool itself. If are not a big fan of using buying any of this stuff, don’t worry. There are other DIY methods of doing so.

Tip: If you have a lot of recycled woods full of nails, consider getting yourself this power tool. It really is a time saver and will turn your de-nailing job into a fun one.

3. Removing Pallet Nails With An SDS Hammer Drills 

Removing Pallet Nails With An SDS Hammer Drills

For this one, you’ll be needing a hammer drill with chisel function. If you are into woodworking stuff, I’m pretty sure you already own a hammer drill. All you need to do is put in the hex adapter for SDS drill.

Even the cordless ones will do. It’s just like drilling. Take your hammer drill, place it on top of the nail and press the trigger. The impact motion will loosen up even the toughest of nails.

Finally, pull them out using crowbars and finish up. As long as the head of the nail is 1/4”, it will do the trick. It’s actually the same process as the previous method but with more power behind every punch.

It will help you save a lot of time rather than doing it with a standard hammer to get out the nails. You do still need a pry bar for the last bit, but it’s worth it.

Tip: Remember to turn on the chisel function so that your hammer drill doesn’t rotate.

It’s time for the bigger woods. For example A 6 foot by 8-foot pallet. All of the previous techniques will work on smaller woods. But not very useful for larger ones. There’s a solution for every problem.

4. The Old Fashioned Way

Tool required: Everything that you usually have in your toolbox. Hammers, pliers, screwdrivers all that stuff. If the lumber is too big, there is a possibility that you won’t be able to see any metal deep beneath the surface.

That’s where a metal detector comes in handy. These are pretty inexpensive tools. Sometimes you can’t want to pull out the nail because they are way too tight.

How to Remove Nails from Wood

That’s when you take a large screwdriver and hit it with a hammer so that the nail would come out on the other side.

What happens when you have a nail that you need to pull out because it won’t come out on the other end of the wood?

You need a nail puller. It’s a heavy tool made from steel. You slam the tool down on top of the nail. The front is shaped like a pincer. As you slam it down, the jaws get around the piece of metal, and they pinch. All you have got to do is pull it out like a crowbar, and the nail comes out. For this reason, using a tool belt always help.

See Also:

  1. 9 Diy Router Table Plans: How To Build A Homemade One?
  2. How to Remove Nails from Wood; The Easiest Way
  3. How to Use a Wood Lathe: Step By Step Guide For Beginners
  4. Top Wood Lathe Manufacturers: What You Need to Know

5. Using a large screwdriver

How about a nail that’s totally flush with the surface? You can’t get your hammer under it. So, what do you do?  

Simple. Take a screwdriver, stick that in front of it and then hammer down. Drop it down the flush and keep tapping. That will pull the nail out.

For a longer nail, this method might not work. But, for the smaller ones, it’s the easiest way to go.

What happens when a nail is too deep, and none of the tools won’t work? This next step might be the right solution for that.

6. A large screwdriver and a mallet/hammer

Another problem most of us run in to on occasion is that the nail is just too deep or the nail is in a knot, and no tool will reach it. In this case, you need to dig it out.

The best way to do that is by using a hammer and an old chisel. Not a new one. Because it might bang your chisel. Take a medium size half inch chisel and make a V shape around the nail.

Do be careful because there will be wood chips flying everywhere. You need to dig it out to the point where you can use your nail puller to do the rest.

7. What About Staples?

Yes, finally those annoying staples that are sitting plowed, flush or down in the surface, these small bits are really irritating.

The soundest way to remove them is by using a small flat head screwdriver. All you need to do is just slip it under there with your hands, or sometimes you just have to tap it with a hammer, and then you just pry it out.

Tip: Makes sure to put your finger on top of the nail when pulling out. That way, you’ll remove the whole staple in one go.

It will make sure that the whole thing will come out and not just half of it. Because a lot of these staples are pretty brittle and you work hard around the corners each time you bend them around.

That’s about it.

These are the problems that I had to deal with. I tried to cover each possible scenario. As you can see, how easy it is to remove nails from wood. 

Hopefully, you guys found this article useful. Feel free to share it with your friends and happy de-nailing!


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