How To Remove Rusty Nails From Wood

how to remove rusty nails from wood

You most likely know how to drive nails but have you wondered how to get them out when they’re crooked, rusty, and stubbornly resisting you?

Here are some tips from experienced handymen on how to remove rusty nails from wood without damage.

The various methods of removing a nail from wood

The shank of the nail you want to remove is visible, then use the claw or nail puller, provided for this purpose on the head of the hammer. Important, place a towel or magazine against the wall or wood to avoid any traces on the paint or wallpaper.

If the nail head is fully seated, use a nail file to loosen it. Insert it on either side of the nail head, gently levering it out until the shank exits. Once the rod is free, use small pliers to pry the nail out of the wall.

If your wall has wood paneling, use a pincer instead. To clear the nail head, use the space at the bottom of each jaw of the tool to pry.

remove nail without damage


If the nail head disappears completely into the wood, play with a screwdriver to force the gap you have or a wood chisel to create an opening. If despite your best efforts, the nail still resists you, you can heat its head with a torch, to reduce its size and create a space that allows you to access it.

Note: Whatever the case, if the nail is bent, forget to straighten it before its extraction. This is to avoid all traces and other damage.

Why remove nails from a wall

When they are old and rusty, nails can be dangerous as you can get caught or hurt. They must therefore be pulled out without delay. This operation is also necessary before sanding a wall or paneling. Nails, whatever their condition, represent an obstacle and go against any smoothing operation.

If you are a tenant and moving, the nails you leave behind are not welcome. It is therefore better to remove them and then fill them with smoothing plaster so as to remove all traces.

Even if the result is not necessarily great and the alterations are more visible than the holes, some trustees or real estate agencies charge per hole not filled when doing the exit inventory. So many hurdles in recovering your full deposit.

What to do when the nail is too rusty?

what to do when the nail is too rusty

Since it is rusty, the removal of the nail is sometimes almost impossible. In this case, several solutions exist:

  • If the nail protrudes enough: with a torch, heat the visible end of the rusty nail.
  • If the nail is broken or driven flush with the surface of the wood: using a wood chisel, make a notch around the nail and heat it with a torch. Once heated, you should be able to remove it more easily.


Related Questions

What is the best tool to remove nails from wood?

A claw hammer nail puller is a tool used by commercial woodworkers for extracting hard-to-remove nails. An ergonomic, rubber handle with textured and secure grip makes claw hammer a favorite tool among many [1].

Should I remove nails from wood before burning?

Offcuts from untreated wood you’ve been using to build things with, or old palettes, are fine, but make sure any nails and screws are removed  [2].



Adam Davis