Removing Old Nails and Pins

By Karl

Removing Old Nails and Pins in Wood Can Be Harder than it Looks

It seems like removing old nails and pins from wood should be simple enough. Using the claw end of a hammer should do the job, right? In some cases the answer is yes. But there are many situations where nails are in wood so deep the nail heads have disappeared. Also, metal pins that are deep in the wood can be very hard to grasp and pull out. Certain techniques must be used to pull out old nails and pins from wood furniture so damage does not occur.

Reclaimed Wood

Reclaimed wood is a popular material to use for building rustic looking furniture. Reclaimed wood was originally used to construct old barns or other buildings which have since been torn down. Because the wood was used for construction purposes, it is usually full of nails and pins. Before reusing the wood it is important to remove all nails and metal from the wood so the sharp points on the nails and pins do not cause workshop machinery to become damaged and also so nobody gets hurt.

It is usually pretty simple to pull out large nails that are sticking out of reclaimed wood using the claw end of a hammer. Sometimes pliers can be used to grasp protruding nails and pins so they can be pulled out. Problems arise when nails and pins are deep in the wood. In fact, sometimes the metal is not visible at all. Some choose to use metal detectors on reclaimed wood to determine exactly where the nails and pins are located. When the metal is deep, it may be necessary to drill out the stuck nails or pins.

Three Common Problems with Removing Old Nails and Pins:

  1. It is sometimes impossible to gain access to old nails and pins without taking an entire piece of furniture apart.
  2. It may be possible to see or access a nail but when attempting to pull out the nail it will not budge.
  3. It can be hard to pull out a nail without using the surrounding wood as leverage. This can cause damage and dents on the wood.

Nails that are Difficult to See

When a nail is pushed very deep into a piece of wood it is referred to as a lost nail head. In some cases, lost nail heads have been covered by wood filler in order to hide them. Depending on the situation, it may be perfectly acceptable to leave the nail and wood filler in place. But if you want to remove the nail you may have to gain access to the nail from the opposite side, and use a small hammer to tap the nail’s sharp end – which will force it in the opposite direction. When the top of the nail appears, you can use pliers to pull it out.

Hiding Old Nails and Pins

Removing old nails and pins from furniture can sometimes cause more damage than the nails themselves. You will have to make a decision on whether or not you want to remove stubborn nails and then deal with repairing the wood. Or if you want to leave the nails in place you can choose to cover them with filler so they don’t show. If you decide to leave nails or pins in place you will want to gently tap the nails as far as you can into the wood – without allowing them to stick out the other side. Next you can fill the holes on the visible side of wood with filler and finish or paint the piece so the areas blend nicely.

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