How to Remove Sunken Nails from Wood? [5 Methods]

Nail and hammer are widely used in construction, as well as home renovations and other small jobs. You can use a nail gun to push the nails into the board to ensure they are well embedded.

When doing construction work, you will be required to remove the nails embedded in the wood. It’s easy to get the nails out, but you could harm your work piece if not done properly.

To remove a nail properly, it’s essential to learn and practice beforehand, even in cases where you misused a tiny nail, even when you want to re-use old material.

The best way to remove nails from wood involves using the claw end of the hammer. Stick the hammer’s claw end under the nail head and insert a block under the hammer’s handle. Push the hammer to the side when levering the handle up, then use the increased leverage to do more pulling. You must learn some smart methods to apply hammering techniques to understand if you’re going to remove the sunken nails from wood. Keep reading to know more about how to remove sunken nails from wood.

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Table of Contents

  • Why Are Nails Sunken Into Wood?
  • Tools to Remove Nails
  • Safety First! Use Appropriate PPEs
  • Remove Sunken Nails from Wood (5 Methods)
    • Method-1: Remove Nail with a Hammer
    • Method-2: Remove Nails with Cat’s Paw Pry Bar
    • Method-3: Remove Nails Using Reciprocating Saw
    • Method-4: Remove Nails Using Nail Kickers
    • Method-5: Remove Nails with Nail Jack
  • How to Remove Headless Nails from wood? [4 Steps]
  • How to Fill Nail Holes In Wood?

Why Are Nails Sunken Into Wood?

  • Nail fasteners are necessary when joining or fastening two or more thin wooden sections to each other. Nail joints can be easily rendered without significant effort and in a short period when the site is under tension. While hammering to wood, compression will occur on the top side you do not always want.

  • To guarantee a stable wooden floor, the nail is fully driven into the wood. Often, installing wood floors is done by nailing directly to the plywood or engineered wood subfloor. Smaller flooring nails or wooden drywall anchors can be used when building hardwood flooring. One-quarter of one-half inch or one-inch and one-inch nails may be required for engineered wood flooring

  • Nails can get into something quickly, and when they have a small head, they are clogged with things. This is why these materials are useful for fine woodworking and visible construction framing. If you have ever attempted to remove a nail from a piece of wood, you will know how difficult it is.

  • Nails, however, are used for various purposes, including the way they look. I’d rather have the objects that need to be maintained by nails stay in place than those I don’t want to be attached to. Just because it is used in opposition to the intent of its original design,

  • However, nails are most often used in construction in the refurbishing and carpentry of wood. Its big nails that are most difficult to remove. In other cases, it can be small nails with small heads that you can’t get a proper grip on, even with a hammer.

  • The nature of nails does not allow for large-bottomed heads. Thus, it makes it difficult to remove the nails.

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Tools to Remove Nails

  • Claw Hammer
  • Nail Jack
  • Pry Bar
  • Nail Kicker
  • Cat’s Paw
  • Reciprocating Saw
  • Wooden Block

Safety First! Use Appropriate PPEs

Keep a secure work environment by following safety protocols when handling nail removal activities. You should wear goggles, regular gloves, safety boots, and kneepads. Wearing protective equipment reduces the risk of injury.

Ask for a block during the nail removal procedure. Remove the block so that the nail tools have a good base of support and improve the efficiency of the operation.

Related: How to Remove a Stripped Screw?

Remove Sunken Nails from Wood (5 Methods)

Method-1: Remove Nail with a Hammer

Do you know how to remove buried nails from wood by using a hammer? Hammer may not be the best weapon to get out the sunken nails, but it will certainly serve you well when all other options are exhausted. A claw hammer would work as well. Then you can follow these steps.

Step 1

Take the first step by marking the nail you intend to get rid of.

Step 2

To put a nail in its final position, it should be driven into the head of the screw first. Then begin with a series of small pokes and apply a little pressure in the opposite direction until the nail’s head appears on the surface.

Step 3

As you know where you will be making the transfer, make sure the block is below the hammer’s handle. Determine if the block works by pulling on it to see whether it’s connected to the screw using the rope.

Step 4

All in order, you can now proceed to grasp the nail. Tap the side of the nail with a rubber mallet to loosen it. Make sure you use the pry that you designed to remove the nail.

Step 5

To keep a strong grip on the head of the nail, push it straight down and slightly in the sideway at the same time.

Step 6

Often use an even pulling force to avoid damaging the wooden surfaces. Applying more force may put stress on the nail. Put your trust in the lever and motion.

Step 7

Try again until you succeed. 

Method-2: Remove Nails with Cat’s Paw Pry Bar

Removing a nail from hardwood needs a little more strength than using a hammer and a wedge. Using a larger tool like the one pry bar can be needed to pry them out of the wooden surface. Bend and galvanized nails can also be removed more efficiently with a pry bar, but the regular hammer cannot. Do you know the process how to remove nails from wood by using a cat’s paw pry bar? Here are the steps for your convenience.

Step 1

You’ll have to use two tools, but you’ll be doing the job with a pry bar instead. Often without much knowledge, the use of a cat’s paw to pry on a wooden surface can scratch it. If you’re concerned about the wooden surfaces, you should steer clear of this pry bar. It would eventually cause damage to the wooden surfaces.

Step 2

It is not difficult to pry with a cat paw pry bar with long, pointy ends close to the nail. Push the pry bar into the hole with the hammer.

Step 3

Avoid aiming at the point where the bar nail will hurt you by directing your strikes at a different target. Grip the nail well.

Step 4

There are no advanced methods. You can pry it loose simply by using a pry bar and pulling on it.

Method-3: Remove Nails Using Reciprocating Saw

Using reciprocating saws, you can cut precise and effective. They are sharp enough to cut through the nail, but their blades allow you to get right up to the tip.

Usage of reciprocating saws should be avoided unless you are experienced. Lack of understanding of the saw can lead to permanent damage to the wooden surface. Do you know how to remove sunken nails from wood without damaging wood while using a reciprocating saw?

Now, for removing nails using a reciprocating saw, you need to perform these steps.

Step 1

Place the saw so that it’s sawing against the wood.

Step 2

It is easier to hack through the nails using 10-teeth-inch saw blades. This type is the ones that do tough trims on nails.

Step 3

Be sure to rotate the saw before using it to cut through the nail.

Step 4

Keep the blade pointed at the nail.

Step 5

The reciprocating saw can be used to remove the nails precisely because of its sharpness. This tool will pull the nails from the furthest point on the board.

Method-4: Remove Nails Using Nail Kickers

As one would expect, the Nail Kicker is one of the best-known tools in the industry. It doesn’t require much time to set up but gives the most value for the nail once it’s done. Using nail kickers is an easy way to remove nails from wood.

Using this tool can reduce your work and make the removal process go much faster and more effective. Let’s see how the procedure works.

Step 1

Allow the nail to slide as close to the wood as possible before its removal.

Step 2

With the nail kicker, place the nail just behind the nail and drive it in slightly.

Step 3

When the tool is turned on, it can use its force.

Step 4

If you’re unable to remove all of the nails, return to the initial step and begin again. Use whichever approach works best for you as the last move.

Method-5: Remove Nails with Nail Jack

Are you in a mess about how to remove nails from hardwood floor? Using a nail jack is a great option for removing the nail from a wooden surface. You can use this light and handy tool comfortably. Now follow the process for removing nails with it.

Step 1

Place the nail jack such that the nail is flush with the work surface of the wood board where it is buried.

Step 2

Drive the nail in the head with the nail jack.

Step 3

With the instrument attached, then blend and buff the compound into the nail. With persistence, the nail will be plucked out.

How to Remove Headless Nails from wood? [4 Steps]

Do you need tips about how to remove embedded nails from wood having no head?

The removal of headless nails requires a different process. The thing is, let’s see if you can do away with the non-functional projections of the wooden planks.

The most practical approach to this issue will be a pair of needle-nose pliers and diagonal-cutting pliers. Since there is no head on the nail, you cannot use it to hang up pictures. As a result, you will have more control over the noise of the nail clippers. Now, follow the steps for executing it.

Step-1: Find Some Pliers

Since there is no target to grab, prying and headless nail-splitting devices are very useful. A lesser version would still have tight holding power. You would need a set of pliers in this case.

You would want to use needle-nose pliers to close on the positive grip side and diagonal-cutting pliers to close on the other.

Step-2: Grab Hold of the Nail

Ensure that the needle-nose pliers are as close to the nail as possible and scoop out the surrounding material with the nose. You can only dig as much as you need to get a hole started after creating the gap. Place the pliers over the nail and pull it down on the top.

Step-3: Raise the Nail

The headless nail can now be extracted from its place. The pliers are useful for pulling nails up straight rather than using a hammer to pry them out. Moving the nail to and then the side will also assist in releasing it.

Keep pulling until you have the nail above the surface of the wooden floor.

Step-4: Use the Diagonal-Cutting Pliers

It’s no longer a secret that the headless nail is shorting out. You should use the diagonal-cutting pliers instead. Think about what you are doing while you hold on to the nail. Otherwise, you could cut your hand. Keep a firm grip on it with your pliers so that you can handle it, but allow it to pass.

As was before, you might be repeating the same motions with the needle-nosed pliers at this stage. Wiggle the nail to the left, and then bring it out a little harder. And when you have to break the nail, use as little force as possible.

After the majority of the nail has come out, you can pull it from the surface of the wood.


How to Fill Nail Holes In Wood?

Even though the nail holes are small, the damage is considerable. Any epoxy putty can be used to repair small cracks. You can fill them in with some spackle. You can fill the holes by following these steps.

Step 1

To obtain a small amount of spackle using a putty knife, apply it to the tip of the nail and press into it.

Step 2

Enable the joint compound to dry for two hours and then scrape with a plastic putty knife or putty spreader to smooth it.

Step 3

After it’s thoroughly set, use fine sandpaper for sanding it down.

Step 4

When that’s over, paint over the retrieved piece to return to the original state.

Final Words

I hope this article has helped you as you have dealt with your sunken nail problem. Treat the board carefully and use the recommended methods to help get the buried nails out, and you will be able to avoid any harm to your work. It should be adept enough with all the strategies and techniques we spoke about to do them all well. Hopefully, you can get your nail back without harming the wood surface. When dealing with substantial materials such as sunken nails, it is important to consult with the experts first to have the right advice.


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