How to Remove Large Nails From Wood

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Have you ever found yourself in a dilemma over how to remove long nails from wood while protecting your woodwork from damage by pincers or hammers with a wooden block? Frustrating, right?

With old furniture or even with an old plank floor, it can happen again and again that you come across rusty, old long nails.

It’s a fragile situation as you don’t want to damage your furniture or floor, but removing them will require more omph, to say it one way. Fortunately, there are are a variety methods to remove large nails from wood.

How to get the most out of these long nails, what tools help, and how to remove large nails from wood will all be explained in detail in this article. The biggest difficulty in removing them is that you run the risk of damaging the wooden surface when using tools. Nails are often hammered all the way in, with the head touching the surface of the wood –if you use a tool to try and take them out, you’re very likely to dent the surface. Using the right tools and knowing a few tricks will help protect the wood.

Nails are relatively easy to insert, but the same can’t always be said about taking them out. When we hammer them in, many times we insert them incorrectly and we’re forced to take them out to then insert a new one. Sometimes wood will contract around old nails, making them extremely hard to remove, and making you want to go and fetch your chainsaw to tear down the whole damn wall around it. But there are more subtle ways to extract those stubborn little buggers. Read on to learn about the best tools to remove nails from wood!

Simple Tools to Extract Nails from Wood

1. Hammer

Many of the types of hammers that exist today have a claw on the opposite side of the head. It is really practical when the nail head is still not inserted, and we notice that we are introducing the tip incorrectly or in an inappropriate place. You just have to pass this head through the slot and, once it is embedded in the tool and resting on the board, pry until the nail has been completely extracted.

Everyone has a hammer in their household (or should). If you don’t, you could pick one up for fairly cheaply. This is the first solution you should try.

2. Pliers

Some pincers will serve better to take out the nail completely if it has already been fully inserted, or to make the head of the nail stick out. Exert a slight pressure on the board while you close the tool on the head of the nail. Once you have this, place a small wooden block or the metal wedge of a hammer next to the pincer and lever on this block to avoid damaging the original surface.

3. Nail Puller (Cat’s Paw)

A specialized crowbar called a cat’s paw of the right size is another option that will facilitate the task. To do so, just use the same technique as with the hammer. Remember to use a piece of wood for leverage to avoid damaging the wooden surface you’re removing the nail from.

4. Thin Wedge and Scissors

If you do not have any of these tools at home, do not worry. Try to insert a thin metal wedge, for example, a sharp knife or a spatula, hitting one end to drive it under the nail’s head. Once the homemade tool is placed under the head of the nail, it will have peeped a minimum. You can now use some scissors to extract the nail little by little. Remember that you must do it with the nail head closest to the crosspiece of the scissor blades and little by little, lest you break them apart.

5. Power Nail Pullers

When all else fails, you can always rely on good ‘ol human ingenuity applied to hi-tech. There are some pretty handy power nail pullers out there, like the Air Locker AP700 Nail Remover. These tools pull nails out of wood seamlessly while protecting the wood from any damage in the process. Most of these tools also have the capability of punching nails so hard, they’ll come out the other side of the wood. You’ll get those stubborn nails out one way or another with these clever power tools.

Nail removers don’t cost much money. The one mentioned above only costs roughly fifty bucks at the time of this writing. Try the other methods, but if they all don’t work it might be worth it. Furniture can get quite expensive and the cost of a nail remover is relatively quite small.

How to Remove a Nail from a Wooden Wall

A nail in a wall is a bit more difficult but not impossible. Here, you must be careful because when you remove it, pieces of wall may be destroyed if the nail was hammered in deeply. Given that the hammer is harder than the nail, by re-adjusting the angle at which you’re pulling, the nail can bend and tear at the surrounding wood. This is where you can use a wedge, but do not try to remove a stubborn nail out solely with a hammer and wedge, you should use pliers to finish extracting it completely.

Gripping the nail firmly with a pair of pliers or pincers, make small circular movements so that the nail loosens and, finally, pull it out in a linear motion. This will ensure that you leave a small hole where the nail was inserted, instead not a big hole where part of the wall and paint was damaged. You can always use a supporting block to avoid damaging the wall further while increasing your leveraging power.

Pro tips

Loosen a nail with a carbonated drink

You will obviously need a can of soda pop. With a sponge or an absorbent cloth, soak the nail and the surrounding wood with the carbonated drink. Let it act a few minutes, and then try to extract the nail with any of the previously discussed methods.

Hydrogen peroxide

Another good idea is to use hydrogen peroxide. In the same way as with the carbonated beverage, soak the nail and the surrounding area with hydrogen peroxide, and after letting it act a few minutes, you should be able to remove the nail without problems.

Apply heat with a lighter

Another trick is to apply a heat source to the nail without damaging the wood where it is embedded. With a lighter, heat the area. You must do this very carefully. Once the nail is hot, you can get rid of it easily.


I really hope you found this list of nail-removing tips useful. Of course, there are many other methods to accomplish this, and if you know any that I didn’t mention here, please go ahead and share them with us in the comment section below. Remember to share the article if you enjoyed it!


Author Bio
Alex is a firewood cutting fan and a chainsaw expert. He owns a ranch in Montana where he lives with his wife and son. He is a tech cowboy who enjoys writing his blog

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