Removing nails from salvaged jumber

Two years ago, I rore off the end of my house and put it back. It was a turn of the century post and beam addition and it had serious structural issues. The solution was to demolish and rebuild.
I now have a nice new kitchen 2-car garage, and a shop above.
When the old addition was demolished I had the wrecking crew save some of the smaller timers from the garage.... 4x6's. I would like to recycle the lumber into a small hutch for the kitchen. I think it would be cool to take a part of the old and work it into the new.
I have cut around the nastiest knots and splits and I think I can get a good 100 db ft out od what's left. Its softwood, but it's tight-grained old-growth. Unfortunately, there are alot of old cut nails in there. I have had minimal success trying to cut around them with a old cheapo plug cutter.
The cut nails tend to snap off rather than pull out unles nearly the entire nail has been excavated.
Does anyone have any good suggestions nail extraction?
BTW, Yes I bought a metal detector.
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Well, my wife's greenwing macaw bit the sh*t out of my hand the other day, and I feel sure that we could bring him by and he could just gorilla-fist (or beak) them out :)
-Phil Crow
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Define "a lot" of nails. Could you use a propane torch to heat the nails, charring the surrounding wood to allow a bit more wiggle room? Pat
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take
I, too, think it's cool to use old wood for projects and I have removed hundreds and hundreds of nails(and parts of nails) from old, used wood. I first used a _Little Wizard_ metal detector but found out the hard way it was a POS even with 'adjusting' the sensitivity suggested by the manufacturer. I now have the _Little Wizard_ s big brother the _Lumber Wizard_ and find it to be what I need. It, too, has to be used with a bit of care. Once the nail head is broken off or the nail embedded in the wood it is a MAJOR task to remove the remainder. Believe me, I have tried just about everything....plug cutters, screw extractors, drilling it out etc & etc. My current method is drilling around the piece of metal, being careful not to break the bit, and chopping it out with a sacrificial chisel. Finally, I check for ittey bittey pieces with the Lumber Wizard. I use a cheap, sharp saw blade in my Unisaw to cut the wood to size and old blades in my planer. Larry
--
Lawrence L'Hote
Columbia, MO
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wood
careful
Thanks Larry
I too have a lumber wizard. It FINDS the pieces just fine. It sounds as though extraction is just tough going, grunt work. I will have to plug some of the holes but that's OK for this project... I think it juts adds to the character some.
Cheers,
Steve
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"Stephen Meier"writes:

You could always get creative with "Dutchman", especially contrasting colored ones. BTW, quite common in yacht joinery.
--
Lew

S/A: Challenge, The Bullet Proof Boat, (Under Construction in the Southland)
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In rec.woodworking

Not that it is very practical for you and I but did you see the New Yankee where Norm used some reclaimed redwood from an old bridge in San Francisco, I believe?
They pulled the redwood timers then used a hydraulic ram attached to a chain and some grippers. The timber was held down and then the ram just pulled the big nails out one by one. It was pretty neat stuff.
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I've taken apart a good deal of wood for recycling, here's some tools and tips, in rough order of importance:
1)Well-made long crowbar. Gorilla bars are nice. You need good machining on the nail-catch part. Sometimes cheap ones won't grab bent or broken nails very well. Length is important for leverage: if you're only doing a few it won't matter much, but if you pull many nails it'll save you a great deal of effort.
2) Largest Channel-lock pliers you can get your hands on. These are for nails whose heads are bent, broken, or otherwise won't fit into a crowbar catch.
Those two tools will get most of your nails, at least the ones whose heads can be raised above wood surface level. For problem nails that won't come up...
...if the nail is holding two boards together, I use two methods, in this order: 1) Heavy (3lb+) deadblow hammer from opposite side of nail-head. You need only pound it a little, just far enough to get the crowbar to work, or 2)use a hammer and an automotive ball-joint separator to carefully pry the two boards apart enough to get at the nail-head.
...if, on the other hand, the nail is buried in one board, you have to dig a bit. First recourse is a good-quality "cats-paw", made just for this purpose. Second would be a plug-cutting bit, third a small hole saw bit, and last a spiral multi-bit in a wall-cutter (roto-zip type). Sometimes a 1/4" chisel can be very helpful during this process.
Good luck, H.
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H,
Thanks for the tips. Very applicable for modern nails. The techniques do not work (for me) with 100+ year old cut nails. It seems that the steel (iron?) has very little tensile strength. Any significan bending back and forth just breaks off the nail.
To sort of answer my own question:
I worked on it a bit more this morning and I have found that drilloing a 1/4" hole in from and behind (with the grain) each nail, the depth of the nail, a little prying with a old 3/16" chisel followed by needle-nosed vise grips is working for me.
Unfortunately, this leaves a pretty big scar. I guess that I will be getting pretty good at making duchmen. They can be cool anyway.
Cheers
Steve

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I have used one of these: http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item262126756&category4123#ebayphotohosting . for over thirty years as a construction pro. They are the best tool I have found. I have seen some who are not able to use them because of a lack of coordination. They will grab a nail that is buried a half inch in the wood. They do not need a head to grab the nail. Good luck
--
Mule-Tracks
Two for the board and one for the nail.
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