I’ve pulled my share of nails in my life. I’ve pulled nails out of trim moulding that I’ve removed and wanted to reuse. I’ve pulled them out of subfloors after ripping out the flooring. Popped nails, broken nails, miss nails, fail nails…
No matter the reason for needing to pulling the nail, there’s a little trick to removing nails with as little damage to the surface you are removing the nail from as possible.
The trick is to use a fulcrum. It allows you to apply more force with less effort — like the center of a teeter-totter. Using special pliers that have a rounded jaw create a fulcrum point that you can rest on the wood and gently roll back and the nail pulls right out. It’s amazing!
How to remove nails – the easy way
Now technically the pliers I’m using in the photo above are nail cutting pliers but they have the rounded jaw that create a fulcrum point so I can pull nails easily with them. The genius thing about these particular pliers is that I can either pull nails or cut them off really close to the wood.
If cutting a nail off in a finished surface you’d probably still need to use a nail set to sink it below the surface and add a little wood filler. Either method (cutting or pulling) is done with very little effort and minimal damage.
I like my end cutting pliers and use them as both nail cutting AND nail pulling pliers.
Buy these End Cutting Pliers on Amazon
For BIG nail pulling jobs, you might want to pick up a pair of crescent nail pulling pliers that have a REALLY BIG rounded fulcrum point under the jaw allowing you to pull longer nails in one motion. Sometimes with the end cutters I have to reposition the jaw to a lower point on the nail to get the entire nail out.
Buy these Nail Pulling Pliers on Amazon
Either plier will make short work of pulling all those nails out of your next demo project and let you get back to the fun part of putting it all back together again that much sooner!
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jb @BuildingMoxie says
super tips … had my end cutters out and pulling nails yesterday (never tried the nail pulling pliers). on finished surfaces slide a piece of cardboard, a shim, a pry bar under them as not to mar the surface to disperse the prying action a little. and worse comes to worse. get em down tight and just snip ’em off.
Kim (TheKimSixFix) says
Great tips. i always tried to just hammer them through, but this is much smarter!
This post couldn’t have come at a better time! We are making some changes in our bathroom and after removing the closet, we are now stuck with big nails sticking out of our concrete ceiling – ugh. Will these tools work to remove nails from concrete? I’m ready to just tack a hack saw to them!
If anything will help those nail pullers should. I think concrete tends to break when you pull nails out so you might be better off cutting them. If they’re big nails a motorized cutter might be the trick.
They are big nails and I noticed that it’s stem is not smooth. I suppose it’s to help keep the nail embedded in the concrete. I appreciate your feedback, I’m new to home renovation and your website has me motivated to learn. Thanks again Sandra.
I agree with Sandra. Nails in concrete are a job for the angle grinder or a rotary tool with a cutting blade. Cut them off, grind them flat, then if needed patch over any cracks or divots with grout.
Thanks for the advice Chris!
Jack Schott says
I like to take the Crescent brand end cutters and grind down the end face of the jaws so that you can get those nails that protrude less than 1/16″. It makes the cutting edges a bit more tender, but I have found it worth it in many cases.
Thanks for the idea.