How To Remove Nails From Wood – 5 Useful Tips

Nails are definitely one of the most stubborn objects made, especially when they’re buried deeply onto a surface. Indeed, a nail is designed to direct and hold two objects together. Thus, separating it from wood can get really frustrating sometimes.

However, we can never do away with removing nails. It is very common for people who are refurbishing or repairing their furniture or home in general. For some, this process can be aggravating. Are you also guilty at being annoyed? If so, this guide will help you to remove nails from wood:


In removing nails from wood, you can choose from any of these tools:

  • Claw Hammer: This is the simplest tool for getting soft nails onto wood. Use the back portion of your hammer to do this.
  • Pry Bars: With its fissures on each end, you can remove deeply buried nails on wood.
  • Cat’s Paw: Often used for demolition projects, a cat’s paw is a great tool for grasping a nail head and pulling it out of a piece of woodwork.
  • Nail Kickers: This is one way to remove nails more cleanly and faster. Nail kickers may not be your typical tool, but when you are into deconstruction, this tool is ideal.
  • Nail Jack: This can go deeply into the wood piece for easy nail removal.

Additional Materials:

  • Safety Glasses:This is to protect you from possible flying nails.
  • Protective Boots: With protective boots on, you’ll protect your toes from falling nails that might cause injury.
  • Heavy-Duty Gloves: Aside from giving you a secure grip, gloves can also protect your hands from being subjected to tool accidents and wood splinters. 

5 Tips to Follow

Method 1: Using A Claw Hammer

pulling nails with a claw hammer

This method is the most accessible since you can always find a hammer in any household. A hammer claw is designed to take out nails which are easy to remove and aren’t deeply rooted onto the wood piece. You can use this when correcting slanted nails.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Step 1: Prepare your hammer and locate the nail that you would want to be taken out.
  • Step 2: Position your claw hammer to the head of the nail and pry it out until its head elevates from the wood.
  • Step 3: Once you are able to get a secure hold of the nail head, make a sideway pull with force. Repeat this process until the nail would come off. 

Method 2: Pulling Nails With A Pry Bar

The pry bar is much preferred for dismantling purposes. Just like the claw hammer, it has a fissure that is good for removing nails. The pry bar can be used for several house projects. Mostly, these are heavy-duty ones that need a strong force from tools.

pulling nails with a pry bar

Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Step 1: Prepare your pry bar and a hammer for support. Then, locate a nail that you want to take out.
  • Step 2: Position the pry bar on the surface where the nail head lies.
  • Step 3: With the use of a hammer, simply knock out a pound or two to bury the pry bar onto the side of the nail head.
  • Step 4: Once you have the nail head exposed, insert it between the fissures and pull the nail out with a strong jolt.

Method 3: Why Not Use A Cat’s Paw

Also a great way to remove nails, the cat’s paw tool is a good tool when you want to salvage the wood where your nail is driven in. It easily takes off the nail without splitting the wood.

pulling using cats paw

a cat's paw

Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Step 1: Prepare your cat’s paw with a supporting hammer.
  • Step 2: Angle your cat’s paw cleft at 45 degrees above the nail head.
  • Step 3: With a hammer, give a full strike on the hammer to let the cat’s paw get a hold of the nail head.
  • Step 4: Once the nail head is out, pull the cat’s paw backwards to remove the nail. 

Method 4: Finishing Your Job With Nail Kicker

Although it takes preparation to use a nail kicker, they can remove nails in a consistent and fast manner. With this tool, the effort of pounding the nails is minimal since the tool is already doing the pushing for you. This is also a good way to remove the nails without making too much damage on the wood. It can be a little bit dangerous, so follow the safety precautions.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Step 1: Set your nail kickers and prepare the wood pieces that you would want the nails taken off.
  • Step 2: Position the tool on top of the nail head and gently push its surface.
  • Step 3: The tool will kick out the nails instantly at this point. Some will completely fall off, but others remain.
  • Step 4: If the nail is still in the wood, you can either perform another round of the nail kicker on the remaining nails, or use other nail removal tools to finish the job.

Method 5: Using A Nail Jack

This will only require you to give a little pounding to hold on to the nail head. Once it’s secured, you can just easily bend over this tool, and the nail would instantly come off.

Step-By-Step Instructions

  • Step 1: Simply position the nail jack above the nail head.
  • Step 2: With its puller, dive in onto the nail head and grab hold of it.
  • Step 3: Once done, squeeze onto the nail jack’s pliers and bend the tool backwards to create a strong pulling force. With this, the nail will instantly fall off.

Helpful Tips To Remove Nail

  • Protective Gear:A protective gear is needed for possible accidents that might occur along the way. Always keep a watchful eye on where the nails are heading.
  • Practice: It is common for beginners to have awkward moments with the tools they choose. So, practice with a scrap of wood and nails before you do the real job.
  • Manual Check: If the tools come with a manual, always take the time to read it. Tools are set up differently, so you have to use each of them differently.


It is essential for a woodworker to know the basic guidelines for dealing with nails. Otherwise, you are prone to failing in removing the nail, destroying the wood, or hurting yourself.

If you have experienced troubles in removing nails from wood, share or leave a comment below.

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