How To Remove Nails From Wood?

Sunken nails, bent and corroded nails, and headless nails can all be removed from nail holes if you know how to remove buried nails from wood. Woodworking relies heavily on nails. Nails are often pounded or forced into the wood with a nail gun or hammer during building and restoration operations. Their purpose is to keep the wood structure’s form together. Unfortunately, we can’t prevent nails in our homes, so we can also learn how to remove them; we never know when we might need them.

Nails are extremely dangerous if mishandled. Because of this, you’ll need a pair of heavy-duty gloves to keep your hands safe while you remove nails. It will protect your eyes from every flying nail if you wear goggles. Pricks from nails that have dropped on the floor can be avoided if you wear protective footwear. Keeping young people and pets away from your work area is also an excellent way to prevent accidents.

Children and pets have a common factor: they can’t sit still. This post will cover everything related to removing nails from wood.

How to Remove Nails from Wood?

The easiest way to remove nails from wood is to use a “Nail puller” tool. If you don’t have such a tool, you can remove nails from wood using the hammer’s claw end. Additionally, you can use a small flathead screwdriver.

nail puller tool to remove nail from wood

The most excellent nail-pulling instrument is the hammer. Rock the claw sideways into the nail shank as near the wood as possible. Continue the process once you’ve pulled the nail about half an inch each time. You’ll easily remove even the toughest cement-coated or galvanized nails without putting any stress on the hammer handle or arm.

Use a hammer with a claw to grip the nail’s shank if the nail head has broken off. However, there are a few downsides to this method. First, the wood will be dented by the edge of the head’s bite. Before pulling, place a 1/4-inch thick piece of wood beneath the edge to avoid damaging the surface. It is also possible that an old claw might fall off the shank and fail to pull. Finally, the nail shank can break before the nail comes loose. Cut it through with a saw or side-cutting pliers if it’s flush with the wood.

You can safeguard the cedar decking by burying the hammerhead in scrap wood. Additionally, the block gives the claw more leverage, so you can frequently bounce the hammer back on its head instead of sideways. However, this is not always the case. Nails that are easy to remove or have not been deeply driven should not be given this direct pull. Otherwise, you risk breaking a hammer with a wooden handle. Although fiberglass or steel hammers can be yanked harder, applying a sideways pull is far more convenient.

A cat’s paw, a necessary tool for all hard construction work, is more than a match for buried nails. Use a “rough” claw and shake the handle back and forth hard to get the best results. The short claw has a significant amount of leverage and can remove any nail it comes into contact with. It’s preferable to use a hard, steady pull. If you jerk the handle, especially with 16d galvanized nails, the head of the nail might come out. You can also use it to straighten curved nails. Slip your hammerhead beneath the cat’s paw or use a block under its paw to get better leverage.

How To Remove A Stuck Nail?

Use a Dewalt claw bar, or reciprocating saw to remove a stuck nail.

You’ll need something like a cat’s paw to remove a considerable framing or wire nail whose head has been buried. Several tools, such as my Dewalt claw bar, are nearly identical and perform similar tasks. It’s not a hand tool you reach for daily, but you’re glad you have it when you do. When you’re tearing down a building, and the client decides they don’t want what you built, or when you’re nailing something down, and the wood starts moving as you squeeze the trigger on your nail gun, It saves my life regularly.

All you have to do is push the claw under the nail’s head and pull it out. Pull the hammer’s claw all the way or just enough to get it under. As previously indicated, you might have to utilize the wood in between for additional leverage. Going with the grain rather than against it is usually the quickest and most straightforward option when using this technique.

Precision and efficiency are both possible when cutting using reciprocating saws. Because of their blades, you can reach as close to the nail’s tip as you like using these tools. However, you should avoid using reciprocating saws unless you are an expert. If you don’t know how to use the saw properly, you risk permanently damaging the wood. Instead, learn how to use a reciprocating saw without destroying wood to get rid of buried nails. These are the procedures to follow to remove nails with a reciprocating saw.

Place the saw against the wood to cut. Ten-tooth saw blades make it easier to chop through nails. Nail trimmers of this variety are known for their rigor. Before using the saw to remove the nail, rotate it. Keep the blade aimed at the nail with both hands. Because of its sharpness, you could use the reciprocating saw to remove the nails. You can remove Nails from the furthest reaches of the boat with this instrument.

How to Remove Rusty Nails?

First, treat the rusty nails with rust remover or WD-40 to start removing them. Then, use a hammer to remove the rusty nails.

The first step is to use a hammer to break the rust’s adhesion to the screw head. Hammer blows break the rust and allow the rust penetrant to soak in, dissolve, and lubricate the rusted area. Rust penetrant can be purchased for roughly $6 per can at any hardware or home improvement store. Is there no rust penetrant in your arsenal? You can make acetone and nail polish remover solution mixed with sewing machine oil or transmission fluid at home. You can use a WD-40-like general-purpose lubricant instead of the rust-penetrant fluid, but it won’t perform as effectively or quickly.

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Apply generous amounts of rust penetrant all around the screw head after hammering it many times. It’s best to let it sit for a while. Then, with a few more hammer strokes, finish the job. Rust penetrant will begin to penetrate the metal after this 15-minute pause. Next, the penetrant should be driven further into the threads by repeatedly smacking the screw head against a hard, flat surface and tapping that metal surface all around the screw head. Finally, remove the screw and see if that helps.

It’s time to stop using your screwdriver if it slides out of or begins to strip the screw head. Increasing the force used to remove the screw will shred the head, making it considerably more challenging to eliminate and impossible to reuse. Instead, professionals use an automobile valve grinding compound as a “gripping paste” at this stage to increase the screwdriver tip’s grip on the screw head. A simple powdered kitchen and bathroom cleaner can form a gripping paste.

A few drops of water and a half teaspoon of cleaner are needed to make a paste that can be pressed into screw heads and twisted at the same time. You can get extra leverage and twisting power by slipping a box end wrench over the screwdriver’s handle for screwdrivers with hex-shaped handles. Turn your screwdriver with the wrench while leaning into it to keep the tip in contact with the screw. Consider using an impact driver and a ball-peen hammer instead, which will provide more force but can not be as effective as an impact driver.

Using a hand impact driver, straight hammer blows are converted into twisting motion forces while driving a drill bit further into the screw head. Because of this, the risk of stripping the screw head is reduced, and you have a better chance of removing it. Ensure your hands and eyes by donning thick gloves and safety goggles before beginning any work. Set the tool to revolve counter-clockwise and select an impact bit that snugly fits into the screw head. To use the impact tool, find the bit inside the screw and strike it with your hammer while holding the tool in one hand. Repeat this process till the screw loosens.

What Is a Nail Puller Called?

The nail puller is called a “cat’s paw,” a “denailer,” a “nail claw”, and a “nail lifter.”

Even if the nails are deeply embedded in the wood, you can still use a nail puller to remove them. The term “nail puller” is also used to describe any equipment that aids in eliminating nails that are firmly embedded in the skin. A classic nail puller uses a pair of hinged jaws to remove nails. The tool’s sharp jaws allow it to be struck into the wood with its handle or even a different hammer, allowing for greater versatility. The nail is subsequently grasped by the jaws, which are then swung around to allow for its removal. You should constantly be cautious of damaging the wood’s surface while using a nail remover. You can minimize this damage by using a nail puller built explicitly.

Even while traditional nail pullers are designed to cause the least harm to the wood, they aren’t meant to be used for precise finishing work because of the risk of leaving visible surface damage. If you want to remove finishing nails with minimal damage to the surface, you can use a plier tool to remove them. You can still purchase antique copies of such nail pullers since the fundamental design hasn’t changed much in over a century. Different types of nails, brads, and tacks are available, each with another purpose. Various nail pullers and removers have multiple names due to this wide variety; the terms “nail lifter, detailer, nail claw, and cat’s paw” are often used to refer to different nail pullers or removers. Prying, lifting, and otherwise deconstructing wood structures can be accomplished using the same instruments used for nail pulling.

More important than the wood they were pounded into a century ago were the individual nails that blacksmiths hammered by hand. Raymond P. Fredrich’s Nail Pullers with Patent Reference states that in the mid-19th century, people in North America believed that wood was plentiful enough to “burn the house back and grab the nails in the ashes” if one needed to move. The slide hammer kind of nail puller, which is still in use today, was initially meant to protect the nail’s condition so you could reuse it. There has been a trend toward designs that remove nails without causing damage to old-growth wood. However, since its design incorporates an outward “V” shape towards the end of a pry bar, which generates the most significant hole precisely where it’s pushed into wood, it damages wood fibers.

What Is The Best Tool To Remove A Nail?

Besides the “nail puller” tool, a reciprocating saw is the best tool to remove a nail.

The time it takes to pull a nail can be cut in half using a reciprocating saw. In addition, it will allow you to reach nails that you otherwise would not be able to. The 10-teeth-per-inch kind of all-purpose blade cuts through tough drywall screws and wood. It’s possible to accomplish delicate operations like cutting screws and bolts without damaging the wood by reaching behind the trim and using a gentle touch. However, the blade can get pinched when slicing through dense lumber if you don’t grip the saw securely.

A reciprocating saw is a machine-powered saw that cuts the blade by pushing and pulling (thus called “reciprocating”). Sawzall is commonly referred to in the United States by its original trade name, Milwaukee Electric Tool, which initially developed a saw in 1951. This name frequently refers to a saw used in construction or demolition. Reciprocating saws, or big-bladed jigsaws or hognose, have a large blade that you can use easily on vertical surfaces and a positioned handle to handle the saw comfortably. In the conventional design, it features an afoot at the base of the blade, like a jigsaw. However, as the blade goes through its movement, you can resist its propensity to push away from and pull toward the cut by placing the user’s foot just on the surface being cut.

Some more powerful, high-speed corded variants are suited for heavy demolition waste work; others are more compact and can be used as a cordless drill-like device on the job site. Variable speed is nearly universally available on modern reciprocating saws, whether via a dial or trigger sensitivity. Orbital action is another feature that has proven more significant when using these saws. Up and down recurrences of the transverse reciprocation result in a circular motion of the blade’s tip, which oscillates in an oval pattern. It is primarily a wood-cutting function, allowing for quick and easy cuts.

How Do You Extract Embedded Nails?

Do Slotted Drive Shaft (SDS) Hammer Drills to extract embedded nails.

If you don’t already have one, you’ll need one for this. A hammer drill is a must-have if you’re a fan of DIY woodworking. The hex adapter for the SDS drill is all you need to do to get the job done. The cordless ones are fine. This procedure is quite similar to drilling. Press the trigger on your hammer drill to remove the nail. The impact motion will loosen even the most tenacious nails. Finish the job by removing them using crowbars. It will work if the nail head is 1/4″ in diameter. The technique is the same as the prior one but with greater force behind each punch.

If you remove the nails, using this tool will save you much time. You’ll need a pry bar for the final step, but it’s well worth it. Don’t let your hammer drill spin by turning on the chisel feature. It’s time to move on to more expansive terrain—a 6-foot-by-8-foot pallet, as an illustration. Every problem has a solution. Many distinct versions of SDS, such as “Slotted Drive Shaft,” have been produced throughout history. As a bonus, SDS bits don’t spin in the drill when used. SDS bits come in a variety of shapes and sizes, including the following: SDS, SDS-Plus

What Is A Cat’s Paw Tool?

The cat paw is a standard carpenter’s tool to remove nails from surfaces. It has round, hexagonal, flat bar curves for gripping nail heads.

With its pointed, cup-shaped tip and V-shaped groove for holding nailheads, the cat’s claw or paw is one of the most commonly used carpenter’s tools. Claw bars with claws on both ends, molding bars with claws on one end, and a flat pry bar on either are called claw bars in retail establishments. To put it another way, it’s like a bit of a crowbar. To effectively use the tool, the operator must grip the shank in one hand while swinging a hammer around the claw. To completely pull the nail, users draw the bar back to lift its head and then hammer the claw into it.

The cat’s paw is a great demolition tool, but it is not used for finish work because it rips away the wood surrounding the nailhead. Because ancient timber is worth more than the nails holding it together, efforts have been made to remove the nails with as little harm to the old-growth wood as possible. Due to the form of the cat’s paw, which includes an open “V” shape at the end of a pry bar, the aperture widens the most at the place where it is pushed into wood, causing a substantial amount of damage to the wood fibers.

New designs have been produced with the Nail Jack and the Nail Hunter nail pullers, which take the ancient cat’s paw motif and apply it to pliers. To remove nails driven into the wood at or below the surface, these tools have their built-in fulcrum, but you can also use them to push their points into the wood with a hammer, allowing them to do so with very little damage. You can remove finished nails with the Nail Hunter nail-pulling design, which has highly accurate tips that come together at the ends. The Nail Kicker, which is pneumatically driven, makes it possible to remove any old nails efficiently.

How Do You Remove Nails Without Damaging Drywall?

Acknowledge the following steps to remove nails without damaging drywall:

  1. You only need a little piece of wood, preferably 14 to 12 inches thick, and a steady hand to remove a nail.
  2. Claw your hammer so that the little block of wood serves as both a leverage surface and a wall of protection as you push the nail out.
  3. Remove the nail.
  4. After removing the nail, gently tap on the nail hole with a hammer.
  5. Then, fill the nail hole with a spackle.
  6. Afterward, clean up with a slightly damp paper towel.

After the spackle has dried, add a final coat of paint to conclude the project successfully. Take out drywall brad nails the same way you would any other nail. You’ll need to get a solid hold on the nail with whatever instrument you use because the head is smaller. Pulling the nail isn’t the problem; the problem comes when you bash a hole in the drywall doing it! Before tugging the nail, you need to cover the drywall with a plastic sheet.

Use a putty knife or a thin piece of wood to do this. To hold the nail, you can use any instrument you choose. Rock your tool back and forth with the putty knife a few times to gain leverage. To remove the nail, you must use the claw of the hammer. However, this isn’t the most straightforward or optimal technique. It’s difficult to grasp a brad nail’s tiny head. An easier option is a pry bar. However, the hammer still has the same problem.

The pry bar doesn’t have much head to obtain much leverage. Also, the wood can easily be scuffed or damaged if you’re not careful. Protect the surface at all times and avoid using excessive force. Many carpenters prefer to remove a brad nail with a pair of pliers. To remove a nail, you must grab hold of it, clamp down, and yank.

How Do You Remove A Nail Without A Head?

Use pliers to remove a nail without looking ahead.

Headless nails are often used in surface design since they are more difficult to notice. As a result, these fingernails will be pretty short. As a result, it can be difficult to correct or even remove them. Check to see whether you can eliminate the nail study. You should stop if you can still use the piece of wood although the nail has not been removed. Remove the nail with the help of the tool in Case A and Case B. Use pliers if the nail tip is still protruding from the skin. Using pliers, you can secure the nail’s point and lift it out of the ground.

If the nail is completely embedded in the wood, you’ll need a stapler to remove it. It is possible to conserve and recycle wood by eliminating nails. Removing the nail can be futile in some situations, so it’s best to avoid it at all costs. After effectively removing the nail, you must assess if the wood can be used again. Things like termites and rotten timber will no longer be available. In other circumstances, the nails are minor and do not damage the main structure, so you can continue to use the wood panel even if you do not remove the pin.

How Do You Get Your Nails Off Without A Hammer?

Use a cat’s-paw pry bar to get your nails off without a hammer.

Grab a hammer and a pry bar for the cat’s paws. You’ll need two tools this time, but you’ll need a pry bar instead of a block. However, you should be aware that a cat’s paw pry bar will harm the hardwood surface before we continue. This pry bar isn’t the best choice if you want to keep the wood’s natural beauty. It will inevitably penetrate the timber and inflict lasting harm. Instead, you can use pry bars to easily remove bent and galvanized nails. With a hammer, you’ll probably not be able to remove those.

Position the pry bar properly. Place the pointed end of your cat’s paw pry bar near the nail you wish to remove. Use the hammer to drive the pry bar into the wood next. The claws of the bar will snag the nail if you aim your punches toward them. Get the claws to hold on tight to the nail. Nail removal using a pry bar is easy. You don’t need to employ particular methods to get the job done. You can only pray that the nail will come out when you take the pry bar and pull on it.

How Do You Remove A Brad Nail?

Use pliers to remove a brad nail.

To use forceps or needle-nosed pliers to secure the brad nail, open a pair and put their points around the little head of the brad nail. The tiny points of the tool can be used to gently widen the distance between the brad nail and the surrounding wood. Slowly press the points into the surface and dig in as far as necessary to hold around the head of the brad nail, as shown in the illustration. Press the tool’s handles together to close the tool’s tips around the brad nail’s head. Pull upward and outwards with a slight wiggle motion while grasping the head. Repeat if the tool’s grip slips on the nail. At least 1/16 inch of the brad nail’s head should protrude above the surrounding surface after pulling and loosening it.

Cut the diagonal using a pair of pliers. The rounded end of the pliers should be placed against the wood’s surface, with the open mouth of the pliers around the brad nail. Grip the nail with barely enough power so it doesn’t get sliced, but don’t slam the pliers shut. As you grab and draw the brad nail, rock the pliers back and forth, forcing one side against the wood while the other is gripped and pulled. To remove the brad nail, use leverage to wiggle it loose. When the pliers are no longer near enough to the wood’s surface to provide leverage, release your grasp and reposition the pliers. It would be best if you opened the pliers’ mouths. Then, it would wrap wrapped the nail around it before closing and gripping it. Continue the removal of Brad’s nails by rocking and tugging.

When the nail is loose enough to be pulled from its hole, use your fingers to take it out gently. Brad nails, typically tiny and thin, are commonly used in woodworking. A Brad nailer or a hammer can readily embed these nails into the wood because of the thin heads that protrude on one side. Brad nails can range from 0.5 to 2 inches, with some variants having no heads. Removing brad nails can be tricky, especially if you don’t want to harm the wood. In addition, nail heads tend to bend or shatter when hammers are used too hard on the thin shank.

How Does an Electric Nail Puller Work?

A nail puller is an electrically powered nail gun that effectively removes the nail. Its nose piece is modified to allow the user to extend the puller deep down.

For various reasons, you can use a nail puller to quickly remove nails that have been bent, driven into the incorrect place, or need to be removed from a piece of wood. Unfortunately, nails are impossible to remove by hand once pounded into the wood. You can resolve this issue by using a nail puller. Place one end beneath the nail’s head and squeeze the other end. You could hammer in a fresh nail once the old one is pushed out of the wood.

When nails are hard to remove, a conventional nail puller contains two pointed jaws that can be hammered into the wood. When the jaws penetrate the wood, they grasp the nail head and the nail’s shaft. To close the jaws, the base heel acts as a lever. The more force you apply to it, the tighter the nail should be held by the pivot point. At this pivot point of the nail puller, the grasping jaws pull out the nail. Jaws will reopen and remove the nail when the pivot point is released.

How Do You Use A Pneumatic Nail Puller?

The Pneumatic nail puller is an effective tool for removing nails from wood. However, the user must use the puller like a standard nail puller.

The nail remover comes with a connector that you can use to connect it to your air compressor. Test the pistol by pushing the trigger while aiming outward once you’ve connected everything. When you pull the trigger, a little metal rod should emerge. You should apply the remover to the firmly attached nail’s end nail. Pull the trigger, or the nail should be pushed through the wood by the gun’s mouth. To remove the nail using the back of a hammer, you must first make the nail far enough so you can now remove it.

When using a nail remover, watch for a bit of ding in the wood where you used the instrument. A little creativity can be required when dealing with curved or bent nails that you must remove from the wood. Getting the nail straight before using an air nail gun is best. You can use a pneumatic nail remover to remove nails from old wood. You’ll need the means to remove old nails to disassemble pallets or discard a senior project and salvage the wood. Pneumatic nail removers are a godsend for DIYers who have difficulty eliminating bent, broken, or extremely (really) stuck nails from ancient wood.

It’s essential to follow a few safety guidelines while using this product. To begin, put on noise-canceling earplugs to protect yourself. Wearing ear protection when working with heavy machinery is an option. Keep an eye on your fingers as well. You might inflict significant injury if you accidentally strike a finger instead of a nail with your pneumatic nail removal gun. Finally, it’s good to safeguard your eyes by using goggles. It doesn’t matter how fashionable your goggles are; they’ll shield your eyes from flying debris if your wood breaks. The forceful nature of pneumatic nail removers means that old or reclaimed wood can quickly splinter when being worked on with power tools. Make sure you can finish your assignment by protecting your eyes.

Can You Use A Palm Nailer To Remove Nails?

Yes, you can use a palm nailer to remove nails.

A palm nailer, sometimes a little palm nailer, is a compact power tool for driving nails into various materials, including wood, plywood, MDF, and plastic. The palm nailer acts like an impact hammer, delivering a steady stream of hammer blows to the nail head to drive it into the wood. Nail guns that employ a single lengthy stroke to drive the nail into the wood are also available. Manual hammer and nail principles underlie the operation of the palm nailer. On the other hand, this instrument allows you to repeatedly hit the nail on the head. A hammer that fits in your hand. Using a nail gun or hammer to drive a nail into the wood would be difficult in tight quarters, but with a palm nailer, you can.

If you’re using a palm nailer, you’ll first need to connect the nailer to the battery. Wearing eye protection and a hat are a must. The next step is to hold the instrument firmly in your hand. My recommendation is to wear an anti-shock glove to safeguard your wrist. Next, insert its head into the nail gun’s anvil shaft using a single nail. An internal magnetic collet secures the nail to the tool. Then, with the nailer and nail in position, push the trigger to drive the nail into the material. The nailer operates the little hammer within the nailer, swiftly moving the nail into the material. At least 10 to 30 strikes per second are usual for a palm nailer. The result is fast and efficient driving of your nails.

How Do I Stop My Nails From Bending When Hammering?

Hit the nail lightly and slowly. Use pliers, softer wood, and regular or large-sized nails to prevent your nails from bending when hammering.

Holding the nail with your fingers risks breaking your fingers and bending it. You won’t bend Nails by using pliers, a more durable solution. While keeping them in place, you might feel more confident about pounding them in. You have better control over how straight it goes in. In addition, they provide a non-slip grip, which is essential for individuals who don’t want to drop their nails. Once you’ve started hammering, you’ll be unable to use pliers.

When hammering things in, you can also use your hands to some extent, but it is not the safest option. Always use pliers or a tool for clasping and nailing. If you have a choice, pick wood with a softer foundation. Because the nails will be less prone to flexing, hammering them in will be easier. Soften the wood or drywall before hammering it into place if you can’t manage it. Even if it is only for a short period, the region will still be softer. With this method, you won’t have to worry about the nail becoming damaged. Avoid damaging the nails or the wall with your nails.

The hammering is more likely to bend nails that are smaller in diameter. Therefore, you should always start with smaller nails if you choose. In addition, anytime you need to use a hammer, choose a standard-sized one. These won’t harm your nails or walls, so they’re an excellent option for any situation that calls for a nail pick. They’ll be able to handle it all. If you’re going to hammer the nails, go slowly and gently. That will cause the nails to bend, as well as other problems. As a result, keep your eyes alert and avoid using a lot of force. The only way to ensure it goes straight is to proceed slowly enough to prevent it from being twisted. Every 3 to 5 seconds is OK, as long as you have enough time to examine the object from all angles.


We hope this post has been helpful to you as you’ve dealt with the sunken nail issue. Follow these guidelines to avoid damage to your work while dealing with your board. All the tactics and approaches we discussed should be used effectively by it. Ideally, you can retrieve the nail without damaging the wood. However, working with heavy objects like buried nails necessitates seeking professional assistance.

Removing a hidden nail is risky and might injure you if done wrong. There are a few regulations you must follow to be safe. While working, you must safeguard yourself by using appropriate safety gear. It is best to use goggles, masks, and gloves to protect your hands from nails and wood chips. Additional safety precautions include wearing protective clothing and footwear. We hope you have acknowledged how to remove nails from wood.

Mark Brown

Mark Brown

Mark Brown is a construction engineer from California who has been working as an independent contractor and writer for the past 15 years. From 2022 onwards, Mark has also been contributing author of home repair articles at Read more on Mark Brown's biography page. Contact Mark:

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