I need to remove some deep-set nails. They're the type without large heads,
and they look like they must have been placed with a nail gun, because the
heads are (say) 1/8" into the wood.
One method I thought of was some kind of drill bit that would drill out a
small circle, except it would have a hole where the nail is so the bit
wouldn't press on the nail itself.
It is not clear to me if you wish to salvage the wood. Assuming you do
not, I recently had a similar problem removing the nails securing a
countertop to kitchen cabinets. I did NOT need to save the wood of the
countertop. I used a wood chisel to remove some wood around the sunken
nail head and then used vice grips to latch onto the head. Placing a
flat piece of steel for leverage under the vice grips made the removal
of the nails easy.
Quote: sinister wrote on Tue, 24 June 2008 01:17
There's a gizmo called a "cat's paw" or "tiger's paw" that will do the
trick. However it will make somewhat of a mess out of the wood around the
nail. You actually drive this thing in near the nail and then rotate it to
grab the nail and pull it out. See:
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You didnt give any details about why you want to remove the nails or
what you're removing them from, but you might consider not removing
them. Rather, take a nail set and drive them deeper, completely
through the piece of wood.
I have one of these nail pullers. You use the handle to hammer the jaws in
alongside the nail, then pry to the side, grabbing the nail and pulling it out.
Read the reviews.
Like others have asked. Are you going to save the wood? If not, just use
a pry bar to remove the wood. Try to get as close to the nail as
possible. Better if you can get the slot in the pry bar around the nail.
Pry gently. Some nails will come out with the wood and others may just
stay put and rip out of the wood. The remove the nails in the wood and
pry out the ones that stayed.
Thanks to all of you for replying!
About whether I want to save the wood:
It'd be easier for me to save the wood, but it's not important. The problem
is that the "top" piece (which I don't really need to save) looks sturdier
than the "bottom" wood, which is thinner, tongue-and-grove panelling stuff.
I'm worried that if I pry up the top piece, that I'll damage the panelling.
(Minor scraping is OK, but if I just pound a crowbar into there, I'm not so
Maybe there's some wider prying tool than the usual crowbar that stands less
of a chance of damaging the paneling?
Aside: this is in the basement. The reason I want to take this apart is
that I need to be able to get at the AC, and this stuff (panelling, and the
top piece which is if I recall 1/2 or 3/4 inch strip of wood) is nail up
around the AC/furnace. I just bought the house, and myself, it makes no
sense why someone would "nail in" the furnace like that. Me, I would have
secured the part of the panelling (it cordons off a small storage area, in
addition to the AC/furnace and H2O heater) with some kind of latch or large
butterfly nut, or at least used screws there.
Shark pry bar would be one option for not damaging the wood
(Amazon.com product link shortened)
Or you could just use whatever the heck kind of pry bar you have but instead
of prying agianst the wood/surface you are concerned about, pry against a
putty knife, board or something else to spread the force over a wider area.
Drill the head off the nail, then pull the board off the top of it. Once
you have a half-inch of nail showing, vise-grips will pull it right out.
A small stanley wonder bar, with a piece of cardboard as a scuff guard,
will protect the paneling the batten is nailed to. Yeah, I've done
non-destructive demo before a few times. And you are right- furnaces and
water heaters should never be trapped- if you must put a wall in the
access path, put it on quick releases of some kind. And even then, you
should leave plenty of air space around them for proper functioning.
The nails were sunk into the wood. I ended up getting a nail puller with a
wide end; that didn't damage the wood underneed too bad.
But I also did get a vice grips, which I used for a nail or two, and for one
screw which someone had mangled badly.
They did put in those metal slat vent thing-ees, so the circulation doesn't
seem to be a problem.
Guess I didn't describe it well enough. (Moot point for you, now, but
others may find it useful). Drill directly into the head of the nail, to
de-head it. Then using the stanley wonderbar, pull the wood OFF the
nail, in essence pulling the nail through the top board. That is when
you use the vise-grips, to pull the headless nail out of the board
below. Just another way of doing what another poster suggested, about
driving the nail through the board with a nail set, but a skinny drill
bit can often do less damage to the top board than a nail set would. I
wouldn't bother for pine trim that will be painted anyway, but I have
saved hardwood trim this way several times. Only an itty-bitty hole that
the putty stick hid well.
I just pried it up with a wide nail puller (see my other post), but I was
willing to tolerate a little bit of damage.
Another poster said you could drill around the nail with a "plug cutter".
Then I suppose you could easily remove any remaining wood around the nail
with a wood chisel, then either just pull the nail or (if the nail head
doesn't project enough) use a narrow vice-grips and then either yank the
nail using the grips, or pull the nail by pulling on the grips head not the
Apparently it's hard to use a plug-cutter using a hand-held drill rather
than a drill press, but one web page mentioned that you could make it easier
by first drilling a hole in a piece of scrap and then use that to hold the
bit in place.
replying to sinister, Pat wrote:
I needed to remove the header trim over the refrigerator as we were replacing it
with a taller one. there were 3 nails on each side that were on a finished
section of wood. I took a hammer with a scrap of 2x4 and hit from the inside
and the nails pulled loose at a 90 degree angle. Worked like a charm and didn't
damage the outside finished area.
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