How To Remove Nails From Wood – Without Damaging The Wood

And some point during your tenure as a homeowner, you may find yourself having to remove nails from wood. It doesn't matter if the nails have just been set or are several years old--it helps to know the best methods to remove them without damaging the surrounding wood. We have researched some of the best methods to do this, and in this post, we will share them with you.

Here are a few ways that you can remove nails from wood without damaging it:

  • Claw hammer
  • Nail kicker
  • Cat's paw
  • Pry bar
  • Nail puller

It can be frustrating trying to remove nails that have become sunken, rusted, or have broken up inside of wood pieces. And you'll be happy to know that there are quite a few options that you can exercise in each of these scenarios. Continue reading to learn more about these options.

A hammer being used to remove a nail on a piece of wood, How To Remove Nails From Wood - Without Damaging The Wood

Ways to Remove Nails From Wood Without Damaging It

It is best to closely inspect the nail before deciding on your removal method. Sometimes certain techniques will work better than others given certain circumstances. For example, if you are working in an area with space limitations, a claw hammer may be a better option than a reciprocating saw or pry bar.

A man using a hammer to remove a nail from a heart carved workpiece

Also, you must be using proper safety equipment such as protective eyewear and heavy-duty gloves to avoid injury such as splinters and blisters from the removal process. Now, on to the methods.

Claw Hammer

A claw hammer is one of the easiest and most successful methods for removing nails. A claw hammer can get the job done if the nails are in wood, drywall, or vinyl surfaces. Keep in mind that this method is best when the head of the nails is slightly protruding from the surface. If the nail head is sunken into the wood, you may want to use an alternate method.

  1. Closely inspect the nail you want to remove--take note of the length of the exposed nail head.
  2. Place the claw end of the hammer under the nail and nestle it closely up against it.
  3. Next, lean the hammer backward to pry out the nail. It's helpful to place a hand on the surface for more leverage. Sometimes you may need to wiggle the hammer back and forth to extract the nail fully.

Check out this claw hammer on Amazon.

Nail Kicker

If you have large nails that need to be removed from individual planks or slabs of wood, a nail kicker may be your best bet. These electric devices use compressed air to push nails out of wood quickly and easily. They are also great for removing bent nails without damaging the wood.

  1. It's best to first place the wood piece on a sawhorse or other table to avoid pushing the nail into another surface.
  2. Next, position the bit of the nail kicker on top of the nail itself, and then press the trigger to push the nail out.
  3. If the nail is bent, place the tool on top of the nail and lean it upward to straighten the nail before pushing it out.
  4. Always be sure to aim the nail kicker towards the ground away from your feet to avoid injury.

Check out this nail kicker on Amazon.

Cat's Paw

Cat paws worked wonderfully to help you salvage wood when removing nails. This tool resembles a smaller version of a pry bar and can be used in areas where space is limited. It's best to use this tool on smaller nails.

  1. Start by positioning the claw end of the tool at a 45-degree angle over the nail head.
  2. Next, take a hammer and strike the top of the cat paw to loosen the nail's head from the wood to expose it more.
  3. Then, position the claw portion of the tool beneath the nail head and pull it back to extract it.

Read more details about this cat paw on Amazon.

Pry Bar

You can also use a pry bar for removing nails from wood without damaging it. Pry bars work best on surfaces where the nail head is still sticking out of the wood and not sunken into it. These bars can be a great option if you're working with larger nails that require more force for removal.

  1. Start by positioning the hooked end of the pry bar over the nail head.
  2. Then, position it under the nail head so that you have enough leverage to pull it out.
  3. Finally, quickly lean the pry bar backward to extract the nail.

Read more details about this pry bar on Amazon.

Nail Puller

A nail jack is another excellent tool to use for extracting nails from wood. Nail pullers are relatively inexpensive tools and are great for use in areas where you have limited space. This tool works similarly to pliers and can be used on a variety of surfaces.

  1. Start by positioning the jack on top of the nail head and getting a good grip on it.
  2. Next, while firmly gripping the nail head, squeeze the handle of the nail jack and then bend it backward.
  3. The nail should instantly fall out of the wood, and if it doesn't, you'll need to reposition the nail puller and try it again.

Check out this nail puller on Amazon.

how to remove rusty nails from wood

If you have a nail that has begun to rust inside the wood, it can be especially challenging to extract it, especially if it's been there for many years. However, there is a way to do this with minimal effort. Here's how to do it.

If the nail is sunken into the wood, the first thing that you will want to do is to extract as much of the nailhead as possible without damaging the wood itself. You can use a small chisel or a pry bar to gently left the nail head from the surface of the wood. You can also use a pair of pliers or a cat's paw for this as well.

Grab as much of the nail head that you can, and then use a pry bar or the cat's paw to slowly extract the nail from the surface without breaking it. Keep in mind that rusted nails are more prone to breakage, so you want to be sure not to bend the nail while pulling it away.

If the rusted nail has left the wall or a wood surface discolored, you can use a wood filler or putty to cover the area. Be sure to sand down the area down so that there are no lumps in the surface, and then re-paint or stain as needed. You can use wood filler to fill in the area for wood surfaces, and for drywalls and metal surfaces, you can use an appropriate plaster compound, putty, or other filler.

Check out his spackle on Amazon.

How to remove buried nails from wood

If you have nails buried in wood and the wood is on a slab that can be placed on top of a sawhorse, you can then use a nail kicker to extract the nail from the wood. However, if the nail is located on a wall, floor, or unmovable surface, you can use a pry bar, cat's claw, or vice grip to expose the nail head so that it can be pried out using a pry bar or claw hammer.

Check out this vice grip on Amazon.

How to remove flush flat-headed or headless nails

The best way to remove headless nails is to grab a pair of needle-nose pliers or diagonal cutting pliers so that you can get a firm grip on the end of the nail. If the surface is portable, you can also place it on a sawhorse and use a nail kicker to push the nail out of the material.

When using pliers, try to dig out the wood around the nail head first to make more room for the extraction. To do this, you can use a cat's claw or a mini pry bar to minimize any potential damage to the wood. Once over about an eighth of an inch of the nail is exposed, you can take your pliers to get a firm grip on the nail and pull it out.

If you're using diagonal cutting pliers, be sure not to grip them too tightly as you don't want to cut the nail in half accidentally.

Check out these diagonal cutting pliers on Amazon.

Wrapping Things Up

As you can see, there are quite a few different ways that you can easily and safely remove nails. The main things to consider before deciding on the best one are the size of the nail, its location, and the amount of space you have to work with.

Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts:

Do Central Vacuums Have Filters? [ How Difficult Are They To Replace?]

How Long Does A New House Take To Settle?

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