How to Remove Nails From Wood

How to remove nails from wood


Removing nails from wood might seem like an easy thing to do, but little do people know that there are so many techniques involved to make it easy and perfect. There are various ways of removing nails from different materials like wood, concrete and metal. Depending on the material chosen to work with and the latter’s age, a nail can be either fitted or removed. So if you are wondering how to remove nails from wood, here are some easy ways to remove them effortlessly and perfectly.

How to remove nails from wood

Woodworkers use a range of tools that help remove nails from wood with the least amount of effort and damage to the materials in which the nails are set, chiefly wood. These tools include cat’s paws, pry bars, Nail Jacks and Nail Kickers.

Cat’s Paws

Cat’s paws are usually used to take out nails that are deep inside wood. This tool comprises a circular or hexagonal bar with a curved end that forms a sharp tip and a V-shaped cleft. With the help of the cleft, the tool grips the nail heads.

This tool is widely used in demolition work where it can tear the wood surrounding the nail head and causes maximum damage to the wood rather than a pry bar. Cat’s paws are also used along with a hammer. In such a situation, woodworkers should take the cleft around the nail head at not more than a 45-degree angle. After the cleft is planted firmly, the woodworker should pull back the bar and pull out the nail head. Using the hammer’s claw, the rest of the nail can be pulled out easily.

Pry Bars

Most people use a pry bar to pry the nail upwards in cases where the nail head is not fully embedded into the wood. To get the nail out using a pry bar, the notch on the pry bar should be put into the place just below the nail head. The woodworker should then pull the bar so that the nail comes loose. The pry bar being smooth and flat in structure, it will not cause any damage to the wood, perhaps just a little dent as the nail is removed.

Nail Jacks

Nail jacks are similar to steel pliers. These nail jacks are so structured that they let woodworkers make points of the nail jack’s puller right into the wood, thereby allowing nails to be extracted easily. With this tool, woodworkers get the required grip and leverage to remove nails effectively. Nail jacks also get right into the wood to remove nails on the wood surface or below it.

Nail Kickers

Nail Kickers are meant for deconstruction. Here, nails are shot out of wood without destroying it. It also reduces the amount of time needed for manual work. It is also cost-saving since it reuses wood that is destroyed by tools meant for nail removal.


To save the wood surface, it helps to pull nails out of wood from the back. If you’re trying to get a finish nail out of a board, it can be pulled from the back of a board with the help of end-cutting nippers. The side of molding that’s its “show” side will not be damaged by this procedure.

This tool has a flat bar that safeguards its trim. If the nail must be removed from the front, it will require the use of a flat bar to be placed below the nippers. By spreading the pressure from the hammer or nippers over a large area, the chances of the wood denting are highly minimized.

De-Nailing tongue

For tongue and associated groove materials, it’s important that you set up a good workstation since these materials are bouncier and floppier than normal wood. Nails here are driven into wood at a 45° angle, so when it comes to removing them, it would help if a woodworker keeps the wood at a slant while hitting at the nail as this lessens the bounce.

After all the nail points are hammered, the next step is to pull out the nails. This will necessitate the use of a curved claw hammer. Pressure should be applied on the tongue rather than on the finished part of the flooring.


Often, when nails are removed from wood, they cause the wood to split or one has to remove a chunk of the finished wood, making the entire piece of wood useless. To remove nails from wood, it’s best to use an angle grinder with a thin blade to cut nails below the bottom part of the flooring.

How to remove liquid nails from wood

Liquid nails is a term given to a heavy duty construction adhesive that is meant for such projects. To remove liquid nails from wood, follow these steps:

  • Scrape off adhesives except if they contain asbestos as sanding or scraping the adhesive will lead to toxic asbestos fibres being released into the air.
  • Chip off the adhesive using a putty knife.
  • Adhesive removal is easy if you apply dry ice to the adhesive. This will benefit the wood if you’re planning to finish or stain the wooden flooring.
  • If there are scuff marks on the wooden floor due to adhesive removal, sand the floor.


Nails are used in woodworking to hold parts of furniture or objects together. Nails are usually pin-shaped and sharp, and made of alloy or metal. They come in a range of shapes, types and sizes and are used for various purposes. Due to the range of types of nails, manufacturers have made several methods of extracting nails available.

Author: John Clax

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