How can we salvage beautiful old oak tongue-and-groove floor boards?


I have a friend who is building a new warehouse for his company and, afterwards, will be tearing down the old one. The old building is really old, something approaching 100-years-old and it has full 2" x 4" oak tongue-and-groove flooring in it. The building used to be a storage shed for dynamite, so I guess it needed to be made out of wood so no sparks were generated as trucks pulled in and out of the place and the dynamite was shoved across the floor, hence the hefty size of the stuff. He pulled up a piece and it finishes off beautifully, so he wants to salvage as much as he can so he can use it in his main building, mostly in his front office.
His problem is the nails that go thru the tongue are extremely soft and he cannot simply pound them out backwards because the slightest force tends to bend them. Also, the nails don't have much to grab onto with claw hammer and he can't pull them out with a pair of pliers because they just break.
The nails go into the tongue about 3/8th of an inch below the top of each board and his thought was to run them through a planer but that seems dangerous to me. My initial thought was to may push them through a big drum sander but he thinks a nail may grab the paper and tear it.
The only other thing I could think of was maybe cut the nail close to the surface and use a nail set or something to drive the nail out to a point where we can pull the nail all the way out.
The only other thing we can do would e to rip each board but that would leave us with roughly 2 1/2" wide boards, which we would rather not do if we don't have to.
Any thoughts?
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Why do you have to completely remove the nails? If they're 3/8" below the top of the board you won't be running into them when planing or sanding.
I'd just take an angle grinder with a diamond blade and cut off the nails protruding from the bottom so they're flush, or slightly below the wood surface. Done. Reinstall and sand instead of planing.
R
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So you are suggesting to reinstall the floor and then rent a floor sander and be done with it? That sounds good to me. That should work.
I think he wanted to plane the boards because they are pretty well worn where the trucks used to back into the shed, but wouldn't you use a jointer insteasd of a planer in that situation? Maybe run each board thru a jointer a couple times, install the floor, then hit it with a floor sander.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

In your original post you mentioned that your friend wants to reuse the wood in his front office. It's unlikely that his office is as big as the existing warehouse - unless his ego is HUGE! ;) So just cull the boards - use the best for the office, lay 'em down and sand. Sanding will have to be done in any event, so there's no real benefit to planing. Planing or jointing will flatten a board, sanding will flatten the floor.
R
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That last sentence seals the deal. That makes a lot of sense.
Thanks!!
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Glad I could help.
R
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