DIY Nail Puller / Remover




Lately I've been working a lot with recycled wood (from wood boxes or pallets), and found it to be a great source for many DIY projects. during the wood preparation of the wood pieces, there's an annoying task which is to remove nails - some time the head of the nail is broken, and some times you need to grab the nail in all sort of positions.

So I wanted to make a hand tool for removing nails that can grab nails that lost their head.

In this project you'll see how to build such a tool "DIY Nail remover"

Have a look at the video to see it in action.

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Step 1: Gathering the Required Hardware

For the tool components I went to my garage and took a broken hammer head and a worn wire cutter.

Hammer head - maintain it's original functionality with the addition of the advanced nails removal.

Wire cutter (big) - I took it because it has a long handle that comes already equipped with rubber for grabbing, and since it is designed for cutting it can withstand the torques that will be activated on it during the pull.

Step 2: Preparing the Parts (Hammer Head, Handle)

I cleaned the hammer head from the wood remains, and dismantled the wire cutter

Step 3: Building the Handle

since the handle has to be able to swing in the hammer head opening, I had to cut it and shape it to fit its desired shape.

Step 4: Drilling the Hammer Head

Drilling the hammer for the hinge (to fit M6 bolt) was the hardest part of the project, since the hammer head is made of tempered steel, I tried to do it manually (hand held drill) with small diameter, but with no luck so finally I drilled with a stationary drill, starting diameter 4mm HSS drill and then 6.2mm HSS drill and cooled the process with cooling liquid.

Step 5: Shaping Claw Teeth

In purpose to increase friction between the handle and the nail i manually shaped teeth on the surface that will touch the nail to increase the stress (by decreasing area)

Step 6: DIY Nail Puller Assembly

Finally I assembled the parts, and using M6 bolt and Nyloc Nut (the Nyloc nut is designed not to open when shaken, and therefore perfectly suitable for the job see )

And that's it - I have a DIY Nail puller!

I think that the concept is pretty straight forward and you can build the tool in many variations (hard metal head, handle and a hinge) if you ever do it please share your project !



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    9 Discussions


    3 years ago

    Thank you very much.
    My biggest challenge when I take apart pallets is to remove nails from hardwood. In most cases the nail will simply break because of the fact that the nail is old and the wood is so hard. I've been looking for a nail puller of this design before as I've tried crowbars, combination of hammer and locking pliers, cat paws and more elaborate nail puller that look like talons. The locking pliers will slip off, the talons will break the nail, the crowbar will break of the nail head just like the drill nail puller will. This is the only thing left that I haven't tried yet.

    1 reply

    3 years ago

    Sure, this works, but why not just try this first? Get a hammer with a handle and swing the claw at the nail so that the inside edges of the claw bite securely into the nail, and then pull the hammer sideways. It may take a few progressive repeats to remove the nail completely since you don't have the claw's longer arc working for you here, but it gets the nail out in 30 seconds or less. If the inside edges of the claw are too dull to bite into the nail, then pull the claw sideways to create sharp bend in the nail, grab the now-sideways head of the nail with some sturdy pliers to keep the nail from straightening out and slipping through the claw as you pull the nail out. A framing hammer's straighter rip claw (and bigger head and longer handle) works even better than a finish hammer's rounded claw; this is how construction workers pull nails that no longer have functional heads.


    3 years ago

    Nail pullers already exist that will do the same thing, but they are designed to also pull nails that are flush or below the surface of the wood while doing minimal damage to the wood.

    1 reply

    Reply 3 years ago

    They are called "Cat's Paws".


    3 years ago

    I like your idea and the way you re-used several worn-out or broken tools. Unfortunately, the whole idea rests on having them.

    Since I don't have either a broken hammer or worn-out bolt cutters or pliers, I rely on using a cheap pair of vice-grip pliers. They work quite well whether the nails have heads or not. If I need more leverage to pull the nail, I use a pry bar or a claw hammer the pliers and the nail together. (Combination gives you a big nail head to grab)


    3 years ago

    this idea is awesome now i just have to have one tool instead of carrying two great concept thanks heaps


    3 years ago

    Great concept. Thanks.