There are a lot of different approaches, techniques and tools to use when denailing reclaimed wood. 99% of the time I find myself using a claw hammer and dropping the nails in a bucket. I actually have this great old kitchen island with a sink basin set in (see pic) that is perhaps the best way to quickly collect your discarded nails.
But here's another way you may like:
Watch the video to see this technique in action.
Step 1: Setup!
When doing a lot of repetitive work, a good, ergonomic setup is key. Take the time to get cozy and get everything where you need it to be a one-person assembly line.
Just about everyone knows the easiest way to pick up nails is to "sweep" with a magnet. I have a large speaker magnet I use. Welding magnets are also large and inexpensive. For years I've always kept this magnet on hand when de-nailing to pick up the dropped, then it dawned on me:
Step 2: Put Your Magnet Right Next to Your Hammerin' Hand!
Duh! Instead of pushing the magnet "out of my way" in my "ergonomic" (OCD) setup, I left it right next to my hammerin' hand, so when i pull the nail and it is in the claw, instead of reaching for a bucket or having them float loosely around, I simply bang the nail loose next to the magnet and the magnet does the rest to corral it up for me. Like I said, Duh!
Step 3: Collect!
Now I can simply scrape the nails into my bucket when the magnet gets full. Some people wrap their magnets in a plastic bag so they can pull the bag off the magnet and collect the nails in it. Also a good tip, I just don't like having the plastic bag around. It annoys me.
What to do with the nails? I'll post another Instructable with one idea ;-)