How to remove nails from wood?

When working with wood, you may need the skill to remove nails from wood. There are several ways to do this, read on for detailed instructions that’ll help to make your DIY project easier.

How to remove nails from wood?

How do we remove nails from wood surface

  • Use a simple hammer. Insert the nail head into the hammer claw on the back of the tool and use force while moving the hammer up and to the side until the nail is pulled out.
  • You can also use pliers. This is a fairly simple and effective way. Lean on the round part of the tool and apply force until the nail is pulled out.
  • You can also use a lever with a long handle, it will allow you to more accurately direct the force, while little pressure will be aplied.
  • If the wood surface you are working on is too smooth, use a protector before using any of the tools to help avoid damage.

If the integrity of the wood board is not too important to you, you can simply remove the protruding nail with a hacksaw. Although, this method is somewhat difficult.

You can also use pliers to pull nails out. They are extracted in several steps. But nails can deteriorate and be impossible to reuse.

Let’s take a step-by-step look at several ways to remove nails from professionals.


Nails are sharp enough that they can cause serious injury if not handled with care. Therefore, it is necessary to wear protective gear, such as heavy puffed gloves, which will protect your hands from cuts and punctures when working with nails.

Goggles will protect your eyes in case there is a threat of flying nails. You can also wear special boots made of durable material that will protect your feet during nail removal process.

Also remember that pets and children should stay away from the place of work in order to avoid accidents. It is not possible to explain to them how to behave so as not to get hurt, so it is better not to let them near sharp and heavy objects.

Protect finished surfaces with a wooden block

Place a block of wood on the surface of your wooden object. This will also provide the necessary strong grip for maximum efficiency.

How to remove stuck nails from wood

You need to consider what tools you may need depending on the depth of the nail and its type, whether you deal with headless nails, and so on. Using proper tools is essential for good result.

Tools can be as follows:

  • Claw hammer
  • Reciprocating saw
  • Pry bars
  • Cat’s paw pry bar
  • Diagonal cutting pliers
  • Needle nose pliers
  • Nail kicker
  • Nail jack
  • Cutter
  • Glasses and gloves for safety
  • Putty knife

A claw hammer

This is a very quick and effective way of removing nails nail that have been hammered into a wood surface. Especially if you are dealing with a large nail with a visible upper tip.

This method is only good if you’re not worried about damaging the surface of the wood, as you can cause permanent damage this way.

How to remove nails from wood


  1. Decide which nails you want to remove
  2. Place the claw end on the top of the nail and hold the hammer with a tight grip
  3. Start applying pulling power in different directions while lifting the nail
  4. Once the nail is sufficiently above the wooden surface, swing it from side to side until it falls
  5. Repeat this process with any nails that need to be removed
  6. Immediately remove the pulled out nails away, in a container

Removing buried nails using a nail kicker

Using nail kickers will give you a great result and will allow you to achieve your final goal, while saving time and effort.

This method is most suitable for deeply buried nails. Also this tool is good if you want to protect delicate surfaces. It is great if you want to remove a headless nail.

Some of these tools include a built-in air compressor and others may require a separate compressor for this purpose.

Be that as it may, this method will not work for bent nails that are not easy to pull out of holes.

Step 1

Prepare the surface for nail removal work

Step 2

Place the nail kicker on a deeply buried nail head and press it into the surface

Step 3

The pusher will automatically pull out stubborn nails from wood

Step 4

With bent nails place the kicker above the nail and straighten it out and then follow the previous step

Step 5

Repeat the process of pulling nails if the nail doesn’t want to come out right away

If this method seems complicated to you, well, we have selected many other tools and methods from which you can choose the most suitable one.

Nail kickers are one of the most efficient ways to remove a headless nail.
How to remove nails from wood

Remove nails using nail jack

The nail jack is another handy tool for removing nails from wood surface. This appliance may cause some damage which may not be desirable. These devices are designed to dig into the surface for nails and remove sunken nails, but this can make nail holes larger.

Scratches and dents on the surface around the nail are common with this method. It is good for difficult nails, but only if the quality and integrity of the wood is not important to you or if you plan to refinish the wood after removal.

The nail jack is another handy tool for removing nails from wood surface. It is quite small but powerful and easy to use if you follow the steps.


  1. Place the tip of the nail jack on a wooden surface close to the head of the nail
  2. Drive it under the head of the nail for a good grip
  3. Tighten your grip and tilt the nail jack back with pulling force
  4. The stuck nail will come out of the wooden objects within seconds
  5. Repeat process to remove all nails

How to remove nails from wood using pry bars

It is a good tool for removing deeply buried nails. Here are the easy steps to use a pry bar.


  1. If the nail head sticks out slightly above the surface, place a pry bar under the nail head
  2. If the nails stuck very deeply into the surface, drive the pry bar using a hammer, this way you will expose the nail head
  3. Stabilize the pry bar and lift the nail and start pulling it out from wood’s surface
  4. Repeat the process until you succeed
How to remove nails from wood

Removing bent nails and galvanized nails from wood with a cat’s paw

Cat’s paw in many ways resembles pry bars. The only difference is the size and the fact that this tool will be gentler with the wooden surface.


  1. Determine the nails to be removed
  2. Tilt the tool at a 45 degree angle over the nail head
  3. Using the hammer handle, hammer in the point of inclination of the cat’s paw so that it has a firm grip under the nail head
  4. Pull back to remove sunken nails

Use pliers to remove nails

There are diagonal cutting pliers and needle nose pliers.

Step by step

  1. With this tool, you can pull out small nails if you grab them properly.
  2. Start pulling the nail up with needle nosed pliers, release and grab hold the nail until it appears above the surface
  3. Using diagonal cutting pliers grab and straight pull the stuck nail out of the wood surface
  4. Do not grab too hard, otherwise you can cut the nail without pulling it out completely

Removing stubborn nails with reciprocating saw

Reciprocating saws are a great choice to remove buried nails from wood. Use this method if you don’t care about the surface of the wood and don’t worry about damaging wood.

If you don’t have a saw, you can use an all-purpose-blade, it just takes a little effort.

Hold the reciprocating saw guard firmly against the wooden surface and cut off the nail.

Some other tools

Crowbar is another tool that requires the same steps as when using a hammer.

You can use anything with a thin edge if you don’t have any tools. For example, a blunt knife that can be threaded under the head of a nail. You can use blunt scissors, but only close to the junction of the blades, otherwise you will simply break them.

Side cutters. If there is no nail head but some part of it is available, you can use this tool. Otherwise, drive another nail perpendicular to the first to pull the first one out.

Scissors. Slightly open the scissors and press them under the head of the nail and lightly squeeze the scissors. Now try to pull out the nail. Be careful, moving the lever can damage anything. You can place a piece of cardboard or a piece of wood under the scissors.

How to remove a nail with a screwdriver?

Sometimes the nail falls so deep that it cannot be pulled out with pliers and with a hammer too.

  1. Insert a flathead screwdriver under the head of the nail and lever out the nail.
  2. Once the nail is sufficiently sticking out above the surface, pliers can be used. If you don’t have a screwdriver, use a fork.
  3. Insert the head of the nail between the tines of the fork and apply pressure to pull the nail up.
  4. The gaps between the teeth of the fork just correspond to the usual diameter of the nails. To pull them out quickly and easily, simply place the cutlery under the nail head, and gently pull it out. To avoid bending the fork, do not make sudden movements or apply great force.
How to remove nails from wood

How to remove nails from wood with another nail?

  • Use a nail and drive in the second nail from the opposite side
  • Enter another nail
  • Hammer that nail
  • It is necessary to purposefully hit the center of the nail to be removed

Another method is heating

Heating the nail above 300 degrees will dry out the wood around the nail, making it easier to remove.

  • Heat the nail and wood around with a gas burner
  • The heat causes the metal to expand, which weakens the grip of the nail
  • Using pliers, pull out the nail


How do you remove nails without damaging wood?

Choose required tools and use something to protect the wooden surface. Nail kickers and cat’s paw pry bar are great for removing nails without scratching the wood surface.

What tool will remove nails from wood?

Theren is a great number of tools that can be used to remove headless nails, bent nails, sunken nails etc. You can use claw hammer, reciprocating saw, cat’s paw pry bar, and a lot of other tools that are suitable for removing nails.

How do you remove a nail that’s flushed from wood?

Flushed nails are sunken nails that were firmly drilled inside the wood with a nail gun. Nail jacks would be great for such case.

Nail kicker would also work perfectly with pulling out headless nails in nail holes. This is a pneumatic tool that uses compressed air to push out unwanted nails. It works very fast and is suitable for a wide range of situations.

You can use a pry bar as well to remove nails that you need to get rid of.


I hope you found a way to remove nails that suits you. These methods are quite simple, you just need a little skill and caution.

For large and important projects, you can resort to the help of professionals if you do not want to take risks.

Rely on the state of the nail and wood surface to select the appropriate method to remove sunken nails or any kind of nails.

Share your experience in the comments and let us know if we missed something.

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