Extracting rusted nails from wooden beam

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by rich6757, Jun 19, 2022.

  1. rich6757

    rich6757 Member

    Any tricks for getting rusty iron nails out of a wooden beam? They have mostly rusted off so they are flush with the surface.

    I am going to machine off the top inch of the beam so I can dig into it a bit to expose a bit of the nail. I've been grabbing the stump of the nail with side cutters and pulling the remains out, but sometimes the nub just snaps off.

    I can't hammer them in further either, as they are too weak due to rust.

    I was wondering if there is something like a narrow core drill that would make it easier to get them out?

    20220617_161157 (Medium).jpg 20220617_155443 (Medium).jpg
  2. chesterw

    chesterw Active Member

    The correct tool would be a start, and electricians side cutters are not the correct tool, you need some good quality pincers and/or a claw hammer.
  3. rich6757

    rich6757 Member

    Claw hammer doesn't work, unless I chop loads of wood away (like a half inch depth). There is only a thin rusted nub to get hold of. No head. If you look at the photos, you'll see what I mean.

    Likewise carpenters pincers would need a lot of wood chopped out before you could could get them onto the nail.

    The side cutters can reach in and get the stump of the nail, sometimes they can be plucked out easy, other times the nub snaps and more digging is needed...
  4. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    Once you have exposed the head a crowbar is the tool to use. :)
    koolpc likes this.
  5. rich6757

    rich6757 Member

    Can't get it in there, without chopping loads of wood away first.

    This is what I'm dealing with:

  6. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    There will be some damage to get those out, can they be punched through to the other side or drilled around and pulled out with Snipe Nosed Pliers?

    What are you intending to do with the timber?
  7. Tilt

    Tilt Screwfix Select

    If you are eventually removing an inch off the surface then dig it out a little then get some mole grips on the nail.
    They even have a decent curve on them allowing a claw hammer type of leverage...
  8. MRY

    MRY Screwfix Select

    You might try a nail puller.

    Edit: Like this https://www.faithfulltools.com/p/FAINAILPULL/Nail-Puller or a Bahco one.

    Edit again: As above, what are you going to use the timber for? Can't you just leave them in there, or (as you mentioned banging them in) just use a wide punch to do that, and fill the hole left?
    Last edited: Jun 19, 2022
    rich6757 and FlyByNight like this.
  9. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    He's still got to grab the nail.
  10. MRY

    MRY Screwfix Select

    A lot less to cut away though. Interested to know why punching them in is no good, will await reply.
  11. Tilt

    Tilt Screwfix Select

    No need to await reply.........

  12. Resmond

    Resmond Active Member

    +1 for a small nail bar ive got a dewalt one that has points, can hammer under the surface and pull out hard to get nails.. that or hammer them in with nail punch
  13. MRY

    MRY Screwfix Select

    It would be good to have a reply. I don't know why getting a wide punch, say 1/2" and belting them would not work. It would leave a hole to be filled maybe with a plug, depending on what the timber is to be used for (which was another question). It might also be possible to G-clamp on a steel template with a 1/2" hole in it, and drill out a hole to be filled by plug or other method, or use a hollow punch. A nail puller could be used after cutting away material (along the grain and down with a 1/4" firmer chisel) if need be to reach a robust part of the nail, leaving a reatangular-at-surface slot to be filled. Over to the OP!
  14. nigel willson

    nigel willson Screwfix Select

    The nail puller has a slide hammer on it , it will get under the nail sides
  15. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    Probably be cheaper to buy a new piece of timber! :D
  16. Rosso

    Rosso Active Member

    I think this is an in-situ beam, and whilst buying a new beam would make economic sense, swapping them over could be a challenge. This is the guy who was on last week, about repairing a badly rotted beam in situ- I guess he's found another one.
    rich6757 likes this.
  17. FlyByNight

    FlyByNight Screwfix Select

    I would use one of those too. I was actually using one to pull some nails, including ones without heads out of some oak this afternoon - I have had mine for around 35 years and it still works.

    Some are designed to dig into the timber and grab the nail.
    nigel willson likes this.
  18. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    To be honest...is it crucial to get them out coz the damage shown in the photos...thinking not! ...used to be called 'character'!
    nigel willson and rich6757 like this.
  19. Rosso

    Rosso Active Member

    So, what are your intentions, once you have the nails out? Why must they come out-they've been in there a while, can they not stay? IF I had access to the top, I would run the circle saw across with a new dewalt construction blade, which will deal with embedded nails. It might trash the blade, but it would get the job done. If you are planning on machining off the face, like you've done on the other beam, get a half dozen cheap router bits, and accept they will all get destroyed.
    Sometimes, the best expedient is not the most elegant. Cheap tools exist- use them as sacrificial items if it gets the job done.
    I love having good tools, I look after them, and hope I will pass them on to my grandson when he becomes an apprentice (long way off-my son is just become my apprentice) Good tools are wonderful things to own, but we've been taught a victorian attitude that they are so precious and expensive that they are irreplaceable. When a plane cost a week's wages, tools were too expensive to risk. Now though, if a tool costs a tenner but saves me 2 hours, that tool will be used up without a thought
    Jiml86 and rich6757 like this.
  20. rich6757

    rich6757 Member

    Hi Rosso, well having run my nice new Trend 25mm router bit through a chunky iron nail, I'd rather not repeat it! It put some tiny chips in the edge and showered iron fragments all over me! Today I got 20 nails out of a section of beam about 400mm long! Actually the method I have does work, I am using a 6mm hole saw around the nail and then extract it with the side cutters. Its actually really satisfying when they come out!
    Rosso likes this.

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