Nail Puller Questions

I want to pull nails from wood pallets. Yeah, I probably already know all the ways you'll suggest already, drilling, cutting, pulling apart, etc., etc. This is something new for you.
I want to be able to pull pallet nails straight out. A lot of them break if I try to pull them out with a hammer, wrecking bar, etc. And, yeah, I've got one of the old-fashioned type of nail puller, with the sliding hande - see the first paragraph.
I'm thinking along the lines of something that will grip a nail head, and use a rotating screw, maybe with a wheel for turning, to pull the nail straight up, hopefully not breaking it on the way. Yes, I know it would be a bit slow, but at times I've got more time then money, which is one of the reasons for salvaging pallet wood in the first place, and I want as small, and as few, holes in the wood as possible. I was thinkng something along the general look of this steering wheel lock-plate remover: http://www.drivewerks.com/catalog/shopcart/TOOL/POR_TOOL_CAT387_pg13.htm It does seem to me that somewhere in the past I've seen a similar tool made for pulling nails, as I want to do. Or, maybe it was something that could be adapted. I don't recall. Has anyone seen anything along these lines, for pulling nails out? If so, will you point me to whoever sells them, so I can check one out? Otherwise, I'll have to consider making something along those lines.
But, before I reinvented the wheel, I checked google to see what's new that other people had come up with. Not much. But, did come up with this. http://www.collins-tools.com/nailpuller.htm From the description, it would work, owever, it's the seller describing it. But, before I buy something like this, I want to know if anyone here has actually used one of these, and if so, how well does it do the job?
JOAT Don't e-mail me while I'm breathing.
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Joat, Looks to me like a variation on thwe old one with the sliding handle!
--
Nahmie
"Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving
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They've been around since the earth cooled and work well. But, if you're going to use one of these to remove many nails from pallets you must have too much free time.
RB
J T wrote:

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It's a mini version of the venerable puller a la
<http://www.acehardware.com%2fentry.point%3ftarget%3d13ae0a%26source%3dM SN_DF%3a1289738%3aACE>
It ain't gonna work well on the ardox spikes that hold pallets together.
Good luck on your quest. If you find a solution I'd love to hear about it. Until then I'll stay with "drilling, cutting, pulling apart, etc., etc."
djb
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When they put the pallets together they are green after they dry trying to get those nails out is hard, I'd rather pull my teeth out
Searcher1
wrote:

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I posted this some time back and am still using this method. The drill and cats paw really works well.
I have seen a lot of posts asking about pallet wood in here and my brother gave me an excellent tip today for removing the cross members.
To take out the nails drill a hole directly into the the center of the nail head. Use a bit roughly the size you think the nail is. I just used a 2/16 bit but it will depend size on the nails in your pallet of course. This causes the head to pop off. The ones that dont are easy to remove with an old set of tile nippers. Works like a hot damn, as my dad would say. I just turned the pallet on its side and gently tapped off the cross members. To remove the remaining nail from the beams I just used a cats paw with a scrap block underneath. Had an 8' long pallet disassembled in about 45 minutes and all the wood is very useable. Poplar and oak. I am very pleased to say the least :) Hope this tip helps out some of you.
John V

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Hmmm, yep, now that I reread about that nail puller, I can see I had the wrong idea about how it worked. From reading the description, then just glancing at the pictures, got the wrong idea. Ah well.
I'm still thinking about maiking a nail puller tho. Something that will pull nails straight out. Sure, it won't be fast, but it would work. Time is money, d it my case that often means have more time to spend than money. Besides, it's always fun making things on your own. That's one of the reasons why people make things out of wood, isn't it?
So, I'll go ahead and design a nail puller. I've got most of it worked out as is, just one part left that'll take a bit more figuring. And another part, just need to decide which way I want to go with it. After that, I'm not sure if I'll go ahead and actually make one or not. There would be faster, more efficient, ways to accomplish the same results. Could even make part of it from wood. That's be a hell of a help, seeing's the kids have my MIG welder somewhere. There's always my arc welder tho, they don't "borrow" that, even tho it isn't painted yellow. LOL
OK all, thanks.
By the way, I just got an inspiration for one that will work as the above idea, except much faster. I'll let you know when I get the patent on it. LOL
Later.
JOAT Don't e-mail me while I'm breathing.
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J T wrote:

I grew up on a farm/ranch in South Dakota and got a lot of experience disassembling buildings and putting them up elsewhere. If I want to save the wood I can still disassemble pretty much anything without splitting the wood. I use several hammers, a crowbar, pliers, needle nose pliers, and sometimes screwdrivers. I pound on pieces of scrap to not put marks on wood I'm trying to salvage, and it evens out the force.
Oftentimes you can separate the boards a bit, then pound on the wood and leave the nails sticking up.
For your nail puller, I suggest you design something to just pull it 1/4" or so out. Then you can use a claw hammer & pull it out. Have several pieces of scrap handy you can put under the hammer to keep pulling the nail straight up.
-- Mark
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Sun, Apr 4, 2004, 9:31pm (EDT+4) snipped-for-privacy@verizon.no.spam.net (MarkJerde) scribes: I grew up <snip> . For your nail puller, I suggest you design something to just pull it 1/4" or so out. Then you can use a claw hammer & pull it out. Have several pieces of scrap handy you can put under the hammer to keep pulling the nail straight up.
Nah. If I'm just going to pull them, I'll stick with my antiquey nail puller. I can use a block of wood with it, if need be, and give me better results. But, in my design (I'm thinking, too time consuming to use for daily use), I'll have something grip the nail (easy enough to design, but be tricky making this part), with a screw-type lift for it. If needed, could always grip down further on the nail, making several pulls out of it, but time-consuming. It would pull straight up tho.
I kinda doubt I'll make one of these. However, I was checking some of my "supplies" in the shop, and do have some stuff my dad had made (metal screw clamps, etc.), and some of that could be adapted. Something like might could have a use in specialized conditions, but I'm thinking not for everyday use. Be more of a Rube Goldberg type of thingy. Fun figuring out how to do it tho. Hmm, maye I could figure out how to figure in some M-80, water baloons, etc. Definite possiblities. LMAO
I think I'll just go back to sawing the slats off, when that's all I want of a pallet. Or, if I want the cross pieces too, or the slats long, drilling the heads on the nails. Those two systems seem most practical, at this time.
JOAT Don't e-mail me while I'm breathing.
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Use the campfire method. Pile up all of the pallets you want to remove the nails from, pour some gas on it, light it, pour yourself a drink. The next morning it should be cool enough to pick out the nails.
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J T wrote:

I've pulled a lot of nails (and hammered too many of 'em straight for re-use) but haven't done much pallet disassembly.
Until a couple of days after your post, I'd had a couple of unused pallets taking up shop space - so I thought "How hard can this be?" and decided to do a disassembly.
I found out that it can be bloody difficult; and that it can be a particularly good method for accumulating splinters. I learned more than I wanted to know - but by the time the second pallet was disassembled, I'd made at least one interesting discovery:
A moderately heavy dead-blow hammer is a good friend to have for starting (un-starting?) a nail. I resisted buying one of these things for the longest time and now can't imagine why.
Once the nail head had been raised 1/8" - 1/4" the easiest way to finish the job turned out to be with a claw hammer and a six-inch long scrap of 2x4 to use as a fulcrum for the hammer head while pulling.
One of the pallets was built using what looked like cement-coated 16d nails and came apart easily once the glue bond was broken.
The other pallet was built using shorter nails with spiral ridges. /These/ suckers really did not want to let go. By the time this pallet was "disassembled" the 1/4" oak slats were all in splinters. Not only that, but most of the nails were still buried in the skids. Woulda been great kindling but I fed it (and the "thorny" skids) to the dumpster.
What I got to keep looks like (5) 2x8x48 and (3) 3x4x48 SYP boards with nail holes - and lotsa splinters.
I'll be very interested to see what you come up with!
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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Next time either cut the slats off with a circular saw where they meet the braces and then use a plug cutter to cut the nail out. Much simpler. Fewer splinters.
John Emmons

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John Emmons wrote:

Yuppers. Gloves would've helped, too (-:
I did pull out my trusty little PC panel saw and cut the slats on one side of my "problem" pallet; and the darned slats kept trying to bind the saw blade. I thought of it as a worthwhile learning experience and put the saw away - to try a different approach with the other side and center.
I was hoping to recover the slats with only small nail holes - so the plug cutter/hole saw approach didn't even occur to me. Thanks for the suggestion - I'll keep it in mind for the next time.
As suggested by JohnV, I considered trying to drill out the nail head - but must have been in "neander mode". Next time I think I'll give that a try. Hit it with a center punch and follow with a drill bit about the same size as the nail head.
I probably won't have any more pallets for a while; but I am interested in Joat's solution(s)...
--
Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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There is actually a tool designed to remove nails...sliding cast-iron hammer on a bar thing with claws and pry lever built in. Stick the front claw in under the nail, give the hammer a few whacks to drive in the claws, then engage the lever part and pull back like a crow-bar. My dad had a few (being the good frugal German he was, he would actually recover the nails for later use). After he died they disappeared (my uncle probably grabbed them...money-wise he made dad look like Santa Claus...if you stuck a piece of coal up Uncle Jack's ass you would have a diamond in a few hours). Anyway, it took a long time to find one but I did in some little old hardware store. I use it from time to time for removing decking boards and the like. I don't save the nails.

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Tom Kohlman wrote:

Tom...
I've used one of those [can't remember when or where )-:] but do so little nail pulling that I never bought one of my own. [Come to think of it, I hardly ever use nails at all.] Anyway, these slide hammer pullers tend to chew up the wood around the nail as they're hammered in.
I think I'd rather pop the nail head in a less damaging way, at which point the slide hammer device isn't needed anymore, and then pull the nail the rest of the way using a claw hammer and wood block for padding and leverage.
I did my first woodworking in a place where both wood and hardware were difficult to come by - there were no trees to speak of and nails took three months to arrive by ship. After I'd dismantled one pallet and pretty well disintegrated the other, I hunkered down and hammered all the pulled nails straight.
Fairly senseless. Nails are neither scarce nor expensive in Iowa /and/ I'm perfectly aware that the straightened nails are about ten times as likely to bend. If anyone had stopped in and asked: "Why?" I'd only have been able to answer: "The devil made me do it!"
I guess if I ever need a couple of 16d nails (to hang a picture or something), then I'll have this neatly tied little bundle of spikes on the shelf. :-P
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Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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Morris
They do chew up the wood but the alternatives suggested cutting around them so waste wasn't an issue. Nails used for pallets are a devil to loosen by conventional means as the are either spiral or epoxy coated or both. As for saving the bent nails, I never understood the logic either!

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Yes, they are still available. Best thing I ever used for pulling nails. http://tools.aubuchonhardware.com/hand_tools/nail_pullers/nail_puller-302265.asp

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Sat, Apr 10, 2004, 11:12am (EDT-3) snipped-for-privacy@comcast.net (CW) says: Yes, they are still available. Best thing I ever used for pulling nails.<snip>
Yep. But, got mine some time back, off of eBay. Somewhere around $20, including shipping. Probably 50+ years old, and works like new. One of these days, I'm gonna remember to check the brand.
JOAT Don't e-mail me while I'm breathing.
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Fri, Apr 9, 2004, 11:10am (EDT-1) snipped-for-privacy@iedu.com (MorrisDovey) says: J T wrote: <snip> I'll be very interested to see what you come up with!
Well, since I posted, I've re-evaluated the whole thing. Basically, the answer is, it depends.
I'll still be using pallet wood. I'll still be thinking on my design for a straight-up nail puller (but that is definitely low priority for not, pending working out a final design problem, access to my welder from my kids, and coming up with some scrap metal).
So, what I do, depends on what part(s) of the pallet I will be salvaging.
If I'm only interested in sections of the slats, and none of the cross-pieces, I will proablly be just cutting the slats, between the cross members. This seems the fastest, and easiest, way for that.
If I'm interested in full length slats, and no cross-pieces, several options. Try to just pop the cross pieces off the nails, without breaking them. Not too reliable, I don't think. Drill the nail heads, and pull the slats off. Workable. Try pulling the nails, with a nail puller. This has possibilities, as it would either pull the nail, break the nail, or pull the head off the nail. All these would allow the slat to remain in one piece. Minor bummer could be nails holes. Or, use a plug cutter, to cut around the nail. First gotta get a plug cutter. This would leave a hole in the wood, but I figure, no prob, just use a short piece of dowel glued in, adds "character", or whatever the artsy types are calling it today.
If I just wanted the cross pieces, but none of the slats, I'd probably just pull the slats loose, if I could, not worrying if they broke at the nail holes, and/or pop them with a hammer. Then carefully pull the nails. Drilling with a plug cutter would be an option on nails that break, and filling with a short piece of dowel.
If I wanted the whole thing, slats, and all, it'd be more time consuming. Probably use a combination of all of the above.
But, right now all pallet taking apart is on hold. I'm having to put up some more storage racks for the wood, and for patterns. Have a bunch of small plywood chunks that have to be turned into plywood circles (with my new FH hole saws), to avoid tossing them, and for use in another project(s). Plus vehicle difficulties. My truck has apparently broken a small part in the steering column, locking it in park, also not allowing it to start. Apparently this will involve replacing the entire column (cheapest, easiest, fastest, route). Then found out last night, one of the so-called reasons my sons haven't finished putting my Luv together, they need some parts. Ah well. But, basically life is good.
At least I do have my new planer sled finished, and it should handle about 10-15 pallet slats at a time. So, once I do get back to salvaging more, that will be ready to use. So, all in all, basically, life is good.
JOAT Don't e-mail me while I'm breathing.
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J T wrote:

'S kinda like a lot of the answers I come up with <g>

Save your old steering column, and any of the parts your kids have left over...

No matter which part we're trying to salvage, it's the nails that are the essential problem - and actually, the only difficulty is getting the darned things to stand about 1/8" proud of the slats. After that, they're easy to pull the rest of the way.
Wonder if we could get Al Reid's former compadres at Princeton's Plasma Physics Lab to build us an Oeaser (Oersted amplification by stimulated emission), same as a laser or maser but magnetics instead of light or microwaves, designed just to loosen nails in pallets. (^8
Failing that, a rubber-faced deadblow hammer seems to loosen those nails that are actually willing to be pulled.

A truly enviable state! B'sides, it's springtime.
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Morris Dovey
DeSoto, Iowa USA
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