How to remove buried nails from wood? [Explained]

How to remove buried nails from wood: Guidelines and Instructions
18 Jan

How to remove buried nails from wood? [Explained]

If you know how to remove buried nails from wood, you can also remove headless nails (nails without a nail head), sunken nails, bent and rusted nails, and disembodied nails from wood and nail holes in other materials.

When dealing with a wood surface, nails are an essential tool. During building and remodeling tasks, they are often fastened into place using a nail gun or a claw hammer by being pounded or pressed into the wood surface.

The purpose of this guide is to help you to remove nails from a wood surface and teach you how to do it in a way that does not cause the wood surface to be damaged.

Why are sunken nails stuck on the wooden surface?

When attaching or securing two or more thin portions of wood to one other, nail fasteners are required to complete the process.

When the area being worked on is under strain, it is simple, does not need much effort, and only takes a short amount of time to produce nail joints.

The nail is hammered into the wood so that the hardwood floor will be as sturdy as possible. Most of the time, nailing straight to the plywood or engineered wood subfloor is the method of choice for laying wood floors.

When installing hardwood flooring, you have the option of using flooring nails with a smaller head or wooden drywall anchors.

When installing engineered wood flooring, you can need nails measuring one-quarter of one-half inch, one inch, or 1.1 inches.

Because of this, these materials come in handy for exquisite woodworking as well as the framing of visible building projects.

If you have ever tried to remove nails from wood, then you are aware of how difficult this task can be.

How to keep the nails in their position?

On the other hand, nails serve a variety of functions, one of which is to improve their appearance.

Rather than having things that I don’t want to be connected to remain in place, I’d rather have things that need nails to be kept in their current position.

Simply because it is used in a manner that runs counter to the goals that were originally intended for its construction.

Nails, on the other hand, find the majority of their applications in construction during the refurbishment and carpentry of wooden structures.

The larger the nails, the more difficult it is to remove nails from wood. In other instances, there may be a little nail with a small nail head, that is impossible to get a good hold on, even while using a claw hammer.

Because of their construction, nails cannot have heads with very wide bottoms. As a result, it becomes more challenging to remove the nails.

How do you remove buried wood from nails without damage?

To begin exploring all the options, first, let’s take a look at the instruments you need to use.

Instruments and components

  • Hammer with claws (Claw Hammer)
  • Saw with a reciprocating blade
  • Nail kicker
  • Nail jack
  • Pry bar
  • Cat’s paw
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • Diagonal cutter
  • Heavy-duty gloves
  • Eye protection devices (goggles)

Nail Jack

The process of removing nails (might be stubborn nails) may be made easier with the use of specialized instruments known as nail jack.

They can reach a bit deeper into the wood and hold the nail head more quickly and readily than a claw hammer can. Additionally, they can reach farther into the wood.

This indicates that less of a lip on the nail head is required for them to be properly removed.

Removing nails from a nail gun

When it comes to taking nails out from a nail gun, or just about any tiny nail that isn’t going to have as noticeable a nail head, a nail hunter jack, which is a variation of a traditional nail jack, is a fantastic alternative to consider.

These two instruments are excellent if you need to remove sunken nails from wood, but in the course of doing so, they both have the potential to inflict harm on the wooden surface.

However, because of the nature of these tools, they can enlarge the nail holes and cause some splintering on each side of the nail head.

This is because these tools are meant to dig for and remove submerged nails.

Therefore, this is a useful tool for removing tenacious nails; nevertheless, it is only successful if you either do not care about the wooden surface or are already going to refinish the wood once you have completed the project.

A Nail Kicker

A nail kicker is a tool that is often used in the salvage business, although it is not very well recognized outside of that field.

When it comes to removing nails, buried nails, and other tough nails without destroying the wood surface, a nail kicker is often the tool that proves to be the most effective solution.

Pneumatic equipment known as nail kickers employ short, intense bursts of pressured air to remove nails from wood.

They are efficient, and they apply to a broad variety of nail conditions.

Some iterations of this tool are completely self-contained, while others need the use of an external air compressor or pneumatic system to generate pressurized air that is necessary for the removal of nails.

Why is it helpful?

If during removing nails from wood you prefer to reuse wood or want to protect the wooden surface on salvage projects, this is a very helpful item to have.

It doesn’t matter which version you acquire; the utility it provides is the same.

However, despite their effectiveness, nail kickers are quite restricted in the purposes for which they may be used.

Therefore, if you do not remove nails regularly, you should consider saving your money and purchasing alternative equipment that is either more flexible or necessary for the tasks you are working on.

Employ a pry bar shaped like a cat’s paw

Cat’s paw pry bars can appear quite similar to other types of pry bars.

Nevertheless, a cat’s paw pry bar is going to be a lot softer, and it will be less likely to do major damage to the wooden surface when you are extracting hidden nails.

This is the primary difference between the two tools.

Having said that, it is impossible to use a cat’s paw pry bar without inflicting some level of harm to the surface you are working on.

The end of a cat’s paw is intended to do the task with the least amount of damage possible, which is not the same thing as saying it will not cause any harm at all. This is the primary advantage of a cat’s paw over a standard pry bar.

The other way of using

If, on the other hand, you don’t mind inflicting a little harm to remove sunken nails, bent nails, and other types of nails that are tough to remove, then this is a useful instrument to have on hand.

The use of a cat’s paw pry bar is effective on many different types of nails, does little damage to hardwoods, and does not dent softwoods to a significant degree.

As long as you can still get a strong grasp on the nail with the pry bar, you may use a sponge or other cloth to protect delicate surfaces while you remove nails from wood, but you must ensure that you can still obtain a good grip on the nail.

There is one drawback, and that is the fact that a cat’s paw pry bar does not have nearly the same amount of pulling strength as a standard pry bar.

If you don’t mind causing the wood to be damaged, you should consider upgrading to a standard pry bar, which is something I’ll go into in a moment.

Try using some Needle Nose Pliers instead

You can’t accomplish to remove headless nails from wood? The best remedy for your issue may be a pair of pliers with a needle tip.

In most cases, nail head disappears pliers are going to provide the greatest grip and have the highest success rate, even for very stubborn nails.

If you’re looking for something with a little bit more grip, another option that can work well for you is diagonal cutting pliers.

When using diagonal cutting pliers, just keep in mind that you need to be cautious about the pressure you use; if you apply too much pressure, you will end up cutting the nail head.

The other way of using

However, by using just a moderate amount of force, you will be able to get a stronger grip, which is ideal for extracting bigger headless nails by diagonal cutting pliers.

Needle-nose pliers are the most effective tool for removing galvanized nails and tiny headless nails in general. Needle-nose pliers may also extract small nails without heads.

Simply grab a firm grasp on the tip of the nail, and then pull it out of the wood. If turning the nail shank around the pliers helps to remove stuck nails, then that’s what you should do.

This procedure requires a firm grip, but it is one of the few methods to remove a buried nail that, as long as you exercise caution, allows you to avoid causing any lasting harm to the surrounding area.

Get a common Pry Bar

Have you attempted to remove any nails from wood using a variety of various instruments, but you have been unsuccessful so far?

It would seem that a pry bar is required at this point.

Pry bars are perhaps the heaviest-duty equipment that can be used to remove nails from surfaces.

They are far more powerful and quicker than needle-nosed pliers, and the claw end is even a little more abrasive than cat’s paw pry bars in certain respects.

If you want to remove nails that are lodged in a surface and don’t mind inflicting some damage in the process, this is generally going to be the instrument that is going to be the quickest and simplest to use.

But if pry bars are so good at extracting buried nails, why aren’t more people using them to do so?

The primary reason for this is that they are notoriously difficult to work with and are known to do far more harm than other types of nail-removal equipment.

The use of a pry bar is perfectly acceptable if all you need is wood that is free of nails so that you may feed it into a chipper.

A pry bar, on the other hand, is not going to be sufficient if what you’re looking for is something that you can continue to use without having to refinish it or cut away the pieces that are damaged.

Use a reciprocating saw

The very last resort for removing nails that are resistant to being clipped is to not clip them at all.

When you’re dealing with a rusted-in nail that you have no way of extracting, a reciprocating saw or a saws-all could be your best bet for getting it out.

Using the saw, you can easily cut through the wood, even with the nail still embedded in it.

After you have successfully sliced through the wood, you have the option of either removing the separate portions of the nail or continuing with the nail remaining lodged in the wood as you work.

If the piece of wood you are working on isn’t going to be visible to anybody else and the nail isn’t close to any connecting points where it may be in the way, then this is a solid choice to go with.

Even if you don’t want to remove nails, however, reciprocating saws still have several drawbacks that you need to be aware of.

To start, in comparison to other types of saws, reciprocating saws are often more powerful but also less exact than their counterparts.

If you require accurate measurements or don’t have enough wood to accept even a tiny bit of waste, then you shouldn’t use a reciprocating saw since it will go through more wood during the cutting process than a hand saw or even a circular saw.

The piece of wood you are dealing with will also have a rough edge as a result of the reciprocating saw you are using.

If you want your work to have a more polished and professional appearance, in the end, you will need to sand the surface of the wood when you are done.

Frequently Asked Question

How do you get rid of hammered nails?

Simply drive the hammer’s claw into the nail’s shank and rock it side to side using the edge of the claw as a pivot. It will take many attempts to pull out the nail.
Applying this method results in maximal pulling strength with little strain on the handle.

What is the tool best to use for removing nails on wood?

Nails in wood may be pried loose with the help of the Pincer.


If you have met the trouble of the remove sunken nails on a wooden surface, then this article will be helpful for you.

Using various methods and steps, you can fix the problem in all the ways shown above. Read the information carefully before proceeding directly to the process.

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ByChuck H

Chuck is from Durango, CO and he is a carpenter with 20 years of experience. ​He has a passion for tools, especially hand tools, and how they should be used and maintained.

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