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How to pull nails using a nail puller

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check nail puller specifications to see if they need to grip under the head of the nail or if they can grip the nail shaft It’s worth checking the specification of individual nail pullers because some of them grip under the head of the nail rather than onto the shaft.

How to protect the wood when using a nail puller

placing something under the base heel of the nail remover will help to limit the damage done to the timber as you remove the nail, nail pullers will usually cause some damage to the wood The nail puller will damage some of the surface of the timber as it extracts the nail, especially if the nail is buried into the wood.

There is little that can be done to prevent this and this tool is not suitable for delicate finishing work.

placing something under the base heel of the nail remover will help to limit the damage done to the timber as you remove the nail You may also find that the pivot point can damage the wood as pressure is applied to leverage the nail out, especially if it is a softwood.

This damage can be reduced by protecting the wood under the pivot point. This can be done by placing a piece of thick leather, thin plywood, a putty knife, or something similar under the base heel as you pivot on it.

If you get the technique correct you will leave minimum damage in the wood when you pull the nail out With some practice you should be able to pull nails out and leave just a small indent in the surface of the wood where the nail had been.

Using a nail puller with a handle

The jaws of the nail puller will grip the shaft of the nail, they should be positioned either side of the nail head so they can be knocked under the nail

Step 1 – Position jaws

The jaws of the nail puller need to be positioned either side of the nail head, usually a millimetre or so away from it so they have space to grip under it as they are knocked down.

Bear in mind the further the jaws are positioned from the head of the nail, the more damage you will do to the wood as they dig in.

the sliding hammer or rammer is used to hit the jaws into the wood and then you can pull the nail out The jaw not attached to the pivot point should have pressure applied on it first, as it is being hit into the wood.

Then the base heel, or foot piece, can be pivoted on and the jaws will be pushed together.

nail pullers use their handle to hammer the tool under the head of a nail and remove the nail

Step 2 – Hammer into wood

The handle will move up and down, either inside the shank or on a sleeve over the shank, and knock the jaws into the wood, under the nail head, so they will grip the shaft of the nail or catch under the head.

the jaws grip harder to the nail the more it is levered over and the nail should pull out It may take a few hits to get the jaws into the wood. Ensure that you are holding the puller with the other hand as you use the handle, to avoid slipping.

You may also want to watch your fingers as you use the sliding handle, it will be heavy and if you catch your skin as you slam it down, it will hurt!

the jaws grip harder to the nail the more it is levered over and the nail should pull out

Step 3 – Pull out nail

Once the jaws are gripping the nail, you can extend the handle, for extra leverage, and pivot the nail puller on its base heel; this will make the jaws grip tighter onto the nail as it pulls it out.

some nail pullers grip the nail shaft rather than under the nail head so longer nails can be removed For longer nails that don’t come out with the first pull, you should be able to reposition the jaws around the shaft of the nail and pull it out a bit at a time.

This is because the jaws often grip onto the shaft of the nail, if this is the case, headless nails can be removed as well.

Using a nail puller without a handle

The jaws of the nail puller will grip the shaft of the nail, they should be positioned either side of the nail head so they can be knocked under the nail

Step 1 – Position jaws

The jaws of the nail puller should be placed on either side of the nail head, about a millimetre or so away from the edges so they have space to grip underneath the head it as they are hit down.

Remember, the further the jaws are positioned from the head of the nail, the more damage you will do as you dig into the wood.

You hit the top of the nail puller with a hammer to push the jaws under the nail head to remove the nail

Step 2 – Knock into wood

Using a suitable hammer, hit the jaws into the wood.

Hold the tool in place with one hand, to avoid slipping, and tap the flat striking area at the top of the tool with the separate hammer.

the pivot point on nail pullers closes the jaws Once the jaws have penetrated the wood, the nail puller can be pivoted on the base heel which will close the jaws and grip the nail.
a claw hammer is used with a nail puller that does not have a built in hammer will require a claw hammer to use for leveraging the nail out

Step 3 – Use hammer claw

Once the jaws have a grip on the nail, the claw of the hammer can be used on one of the two points on the striking area, and the tool can be leveraged on its pivot point to pull the nail out.

the nail is leveraged out using the nail remover and a claw hammer These nail pullers have two positions to place the claw of the hammer so you can choose the most convenient one to use for your job.

For example, if you were in a space that would not allow the claw to grip the top point, it could grip the one on the back instead.

The claw hammer gives you the leverage you need to remove the nail with the nail puller

Step 4 – Lever out nail

The hammer will then give you the leverage you need to pull out the nail.

A longer handle on the hammer will give you extra leverage and, for longer nails, you can use the nail puller to extract enough of the nail to be able to use the claw on the hammer to remove the rest of it.