How to remove a nail

How to pull awkward nails out from timber


On this page i'll explain loads of the tricks and tools I use how to remove a nail from wood. Awkward and hard to remove nails can be pulled out without damaging the work piece as long as you know how. Sometimes large nails that are difficult to get out want removing, other times it's small nails with tiny heads you can't grip with your hammer. When can't just take the timber off, bang the nail back from the other side and then pull it with the claw of your hammer, these tips should help get you out of the sh#t..

How to remove a large nail

You can't always get enough leverage with the claw of a hammer to remove a large nail (framing nails like 3/4" wires), especially if you've got a hammer with a straight claw and not a curved one.

There are a couple of ways to remove a nail in a situation like this, provided you can get the claw of the hammer behind the head of the nail. Firstly, either put a scrap piece of wood between the claw and timber and use that to lever off, this method is also good for removing a nail without denting or damaging the work piece. Alternatively, I sometimes get the claw under the nail and turn the head to the side to pull the nail out instead. It might take a couple of attempts, first turning to the left then the right but it will come. The head will dig into the timber though so put a piece of scrap under if the timber will be seen afterwards.

Removing a nail when the heads buried

If the nails head has been buried and you need to pull it there's a couple of methods to consider depending on the circumstances.

  • Removing framing nails
  • To remove a framing or wire nail when the head has been buried you'll want something like a cats paw or similar. There are a few tools like my cats paw that are pretty much the same and do much the same job. It's not one of those hand tools you use every single day but a cheap one that when you do, you are really grateful for. Either during demolition work, when a customer has you build something and then changes their mind or when you go to nail something and just as you pull the trigger on the nailgun the timber bloody moves!! It gets me out of trouble..

    All you do to use it is beat the claw in under the nails head and lever it out either all the way or just enough to get the claw of your hammer under.


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