Introduction: Pull Wooden Fence Posts Set in Concrete WITH NO DIGGING!

Picture of Pull Wooden Fence Posts Set in Concrete WITH NO DIGGING!

I wanted to post this to maybe help someone save a little time if they ever need to replace a fence, which has wooden posts that are set in concrete, and doesn't want to have to dig them out by hand.

Here's the story.

My very aging neighbor lady down the street asked me if I would replace about a ten foot section of her old cedar fence and update it to the same style her next door neighbor just put in. Of course I said yes.

Now, truth be told, I am lazy, and work hard at it. I wanted to find a way to lift out old fence posts that are embedded in the ground in concrete without having to resort to digging them out of the ground with a shovel, and thereby breaking too much of a sweat in the process. I wanted to be able to reuse the holes for new posts, too, so pulling them out with a truck was out of the question, as that would elongate the holes.

After scouring the Internet and finding ways of pulling posts that would leave a huge hole that would have to be backfilled and re-dug, or hokey "Here, hold my beer" type of ideas using tools I did not have such as a tractor or truck wheel rim, or chains, or explosives, I determined that there was nothing "out there" in bitland simple enough to suit my needs. So, I came up with the following idea. I like it because you can pull the post out with one hand, so you don't need anyone to hold your beer for you, and then after you are finished pulling posts, you can dismantle the device and use the parts as new posts when you rebuild the new fence, and utilizing the same holes. No digging! No nails. No screws. Can I get an AMEN?

Step 1: Gather Some Simple Materials

Picture of Gather Some Simple Materials

For my / your post puller, you will need

  • 2 4" x 4" x 10' treated lumber posts
  • 2 4" x 4" x 1' treated lumber pieces
  • Twenty feet or so of spare paracord, twine, rope, wire, whatever
  • 1 Two foot iron spike or rebar (found in home improvement centers. I used a 3/4" diameter spike)
  • A drill
  • a 3/4" bit (or what suits the diameter of your spike)
  • A concrete cinder block or scrap lumber, or whatever you can find for a fulcrum.

Step 2: Build Your One Handed Post Puller

Picture of Build Your One Handed Post Puller

What you want to do is to lash two of the long 4x4's together, sandwiching the two small pieces together as shown. tie as tight as you can, no huge deal. During use, the force is not being applied to the ligatures (paracord). The cord is just there to hold the smaller pieces of lumber between the longer ones, so they act as spacer blocks.

Then you want to drill a hole large enough for your spike (in my case, 3/4") through the end of one of the long 4x4's. Then do the same to the other side. Measure if you need to, I did not as I am pretty proficient by eye/hand. You want the holes to line up so you can push the spike through as shown with little to no resistance.

You are done with the puller! Tough work, huh? Or eh? (In case you are a Northern brother or sister).

Step 3: Attach Puller to Old Post

Picture of Attach Puller to Old Post

Now you need to drill a hole in the existing post you want to pull. How high up depends on your fulcrum material. In my case, that was about 15 inches from the ground.

Slide the puller minus the spike up the old post, lining up the holes, and push the spike through the three 4 x 4's, as shown.

Now you will want to place your fulcrum.

Step 4: Add Your Fulcrum

Picture of Add Your Fulcrum

Place your fulcrum, in my case an old cinder block and stepping stone, as close to the post as possible, WITHOUT covering any of the concrete that the post is set into. Just take the fulcrum to the edge of the concrete, as shown.

Step 5: Pull Yer Post!

Picture of Pull Yer Post!

Saunter on over to the far end of your post puller, and using one hand to hold your beverage of choice, use the other hand to push down the lever handle. See how easy that was?

Step 6: Tough to Reach Posts

Picture of Tough to Reach Posts

Tough to reach posts are no match for your new post puller, either. You can push the spike through the hole, and use the puller from the side, as shown. Worked great! Lifted it out straight and no damage to the other fence that I have to match when I rebuild her fence.

Step 7: Thanks...

Picture of Thanks...

Thanks to this wonderful community. I have received much help from Instructables in my life, and hope that this helps someone else.

Think hard, so you can work less!

P.S. --If you like this, it would be nice if you could vote for me in the First Time Authors' Contest. Thanks!


RedSpade259 (author)2017-07-05

Awesome! Thanks.

dunebachiear (author)2017-06-23

This is fantastic! I cannot wait to use your method when replacing my backyard fence. Thanks!

mikebarbaro (author)2016-09-01

You should always set your fence posts in concrete! We have also coated ours in tar prior to installation to give it an extra sense of stability. We have examples on our website as well at

clazman (author)2016-05-26

The age old lever in use. I was going to utilize this outstanding way to leverage man's strength to remove some post anchors to only "move the locations.

However, I am going to reuse the anchors in my case for my father-in-law did a very wise thing and sunk a 3 inch steel angle in the concrete anchor. To replace a post simply unbolting it from the angle iron does the trick. Trust me, posts will need to be replaced, although much less, for the post experiences only above ground conditions.

Notayot (author)clazman2016-07-17

Smear roofing tar around the posts below-ground before setting them in concrete keeps them from rotting as quickly. (Use it in place of the old creosote that I think is now unavailable due to arsenic.)

jalanhutto made it! (author)2016-06-30

THANK YOU NORTH WIND!! This method saved my bacon while pulling out 45 cedar posts on my old fence demolition. I went with 8 foot 4x4's which I now regret. It was doable, but took a lot of effort. Going with the full 10 feet on the levers would have kept me from having to put down my beer. Thanks again. Great idea!

blue LED (author)2016-06-13

Great instructable and Idea. Though simple, it's elegant.

I see that all manner of "improvements" and favored alternate methods have been suggested. But to my way of thinking, simple is the way to go and its cheaper (more $$ for beer) too.

Beats the heck out of my idea of renting a crane and....... never mind ;0)

vivienevolves (author)2016-06-06

Great and simple solution! Now I'm modifying it in my head to pull wood window wells out of the ground. I'm thinking of two of these, parallel to the house outward from either side, then popping both up at once. Think it might work?

NorthWind (author)vivienevolves2016-06-06

Yes, I think it would might need two people though. Or just do a little on lever A then a little with lever B, and so on. Or just put one perpendicular to the wall, and pull from the center. Or, even perpendicular to the wall, and pull from the center with a chain connected to both sides of the well. Let me know what you come up with, and photos are worth a thousand words. Best of success to you!

jasonjacoby3 (author)2016-06-04

Nice work. I'll be doing a version of this shortly. I will have to modify, as my posts are metal.

NorthWind (author)jasonjacoby32016-06-06

Great, let me know how it works for you.

bluidmidget (author)2016-06-02

It always amazes me what great ideas people come up with to solve problems. Nice work! My husband used a different method (which worked great for me after he passed away), if you happen to have a hydraulic jack and some heavy chain and a couple of nuts and bolts. Wrap one end of the chain around the post, close to the ground, and the other end around the jack. Secure the chain with a nut and bolt at each end. Raise the jack. You'll probably have to reposition the chain around the post as you're raising the jack. I had seven posts to remove from an old garden. Saved me a lot of back-breaking work.

NorthWind (author)bluidmidget2016-06-06


cbjack (author)2016-05-31

Love you Archimedes!

LouiseB21 (author)2016-05-31

I love it! I am, myself, an "aging" lady who needs to pull posts! I can't wait to try this. Thank you for sharing.

NorthWind (author)LouiseB212016-05-31

Super! Let us know how it works out for you, OK?

muadibe (author)2016-05-28

Thanks for sharing a great method.

NorthWind (author)muadibe2016-05-28

You are most welcome. Love your name, BTW.

Wingloader (author)2016-05-28

Yoe are a genius. Spare/junk lumber, steel rod, post puller

NorthWind (author)Wingloader2016-05-28

Thanks. It seemed to make sense at the time. :-) And it sure did the trick!

lbrewer42 (author)2016-05-28

Fast, easy, worked... good job. Just one of many decent solutions.

ThaineK (author)2016-05-26

Way easier way. Find an older model car jack. The one that attached to the bumper.

Set up jack, wrap chain around post. Jack up until you engage the chain. Pump a few times, post out.

alan8888 (author)ThaineK2016-05-27

I used to tear down and install fences for years. We used to just notch a groove in the post with a circular saw and place the jack (a jack- all) in the groove and pump it out.

Sometimes you get lucky and the post breaks free from the concrete and comes right out clean. Then you can put your new post right into the old concrete hole and add some new concrete to the top. Saves a lot of time.

Sometimes the post would break so then we wrapped a chain around it and jacked it.. I used a jack-all for all this. They are around $40.00-$50.00 and a good tool to have for a lot of jobs..

But Northwind's idea would work great if you had no jack.

mwseniff1 (author)ThaineK2016-05-26

This is definitely the easy way. We used a tractor jack and a piece of 2X8 lumber for stable footing if the ground was soft on the farm when I was a kid. That pretty much pulled anything you couldn't wiggle loose. Of course we had a tractor so we had a tractor jack, they are extra heavy duty versions of an old car jack. They are still pretty reasonable at a farm supply store.

NorthWind (author)ThaineK2016-05-26

Way easier? Maybe. But you see, I had no jack at the time. You could say, I didn't know jack! lol

ThaineK (author)NorthWind2016-05-26

I looked a long time for one at sales. Bought it stored it awaiting the day......

SpecialKLB (author)2016-05-27

You are brilliant and I love your writing style!

NorthWind (author)SpecialKLB2016-05-27

Thank you so much. Life apart from a little humor I find to be a drudgery.

AlienPigMan (author)2016-05-27

You win life today sir, thanks!

VenusC3 (author)2016-05-27

This is brilliant!

StephenF52 (author)2016-05-26

Here's a much faster method with nothing to build: Any vehicle, a decent length of rope, and a board (like a 2"x4") will do. See the drawing. I've pulled many posts this way, including deeply set ones. Keep the end of the rope choking the post near vertical throughout the process by moving the vehicle in short strokes and reversing a little each time so you can re-set the position of the leaning board and/or move the rope choke down the post. A chain with a choker hook works great, too.

namora (author)StephenF522016-05-27

This is truly elegant, I'll pass it on, Thank you, C

NorthWind (author)StephenF522016-05-26


blaughn (author)2016-05-27

Great project. For those in a hurry or wanting to pull pipe fence posts - I purchased this: for around $30.00 and used it to pull both chain link pipe fence posts and the wooden posts shown in you tutorial.

67spyder (author)2016-05-27

Good on you for helping a nieghbour!

robert livingstone (author)2016-05-27

great idea bloke thank you for sharing

christopher.leblanc.98 (author)2016-05-26

rap a chain around post ,,, take a old tire rim ,,,, place next to post,,, up right, hook chain to trailer hitch of car,,, and slowlly , rolll forward,,, the rim acts as a fulcrum and the post and cement comes out ,straight up , farm hack

OneBirdieMa (author)2016-05-26

That is too cool! I am, however, glad I have only one post like this to get out and it is oh 85% or so dug already. Of course that last 15% . . . If I ever have to deal with any more of the posts that hold the chainlink fence around my 'back forty' (more like 40 sq ft than acres, believe me!) this is going to get made pronto. Many many thanks for doing the thinking -- and the writing -- and the photographing -- and the writing -- 'cause this is great!

NorthWind (author)OneBirdieMa2016-05-26

Thank you so much for the nice words.

LDM1 (author)2016-05-26

A hard workin' brainiac like that deserves an "Ol Swillwaukee" right gang? I've done something similar when pulling steel posts that were just drove into the dirt, I just clamp a ViseGrip to the post and used a shovel and a brick for the fulcrum, it worked pretty slick.

When pulling the wooden posts, you could just screw a couple 2 X 4's to each side of the post instead of drilling a hole through it and skip the steel pin.

NorthWind (author)LDM12016-05-26

Methinks you are right on both counts!

MichiganDave (author)2016-05-26

This is excellant! It totally earns a BIG thanks for you sharing this with all of us.

Ellystu (author)2016-05-26

Yes, an elegant solution! Thanks for the physics lesson, the gentleness, and all the laughs. Delightful and educational, too. Plus I found extra helpful info in the comments. Bonus, eh ;)

NorthWind (author)Ellystu2016-05-26

Thank you, my Canadian sister!

criffster (author)2016-05-26

Brilliant! Just bloody brilliant!

NorthWind (author)criffster2016-05-26

Thank you.

AeSix (author)2016-05-26

Awesome idea. Implementation is a bit sketchy, but that can be improved upon per-builder's desire! I might add a pivoted center piece that could swing down to become the fulcrum, as opposed to the cinder block. Iron pipe with a wall flange as the foot might be enough for the fulcrum leg.

Also, I could see using some kind of toothed wedging mechanism on the end, so not to have to drill holes in the posts. Combine with a strip of heavy rubber, and it can be used with galvanized fence posts as well. Would be great for re-usability, especially with the metal posts.

NorthWind (author)AeSix2016-05-26

No need to over-engineer something that works as intended. But feel free to do so if you so desire.

jansown (author)2016-05-26

I have soooo many posts just sticking out of the ground right now 'cause my fence was so rotten it had to be taken down. Luckily I have 2 neighbors with fences and don't need any on the other sides...this will help tremendously to get the posts out now. On a side note: if someone has dogs that dig...cut the post off at the bottom leave the concrete and move the posts 12" like noted by another admirer. Less area to dig..ha. Time to buy beer and remove posts. Thanks!!!

selewis (author)2016-05-26

AMEN! And I see how I can easily modify it to pull metal fence posts. Have one on me. I'll toast you w' my next brew.

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