A large nail (e.g. a 3-1/2″ 16d) is only partially driven into a piece of wood, and you need to remove it but there’s not enough leverage to pull it out with a claw hammer or pliers. Here’s one way to get it out.
- Safety Goggles (seriously)
- Nail Puller (We recommend the Vaughan Bear Claw, Shark, and the Dead on Exhumer)
- Dead Blow Mallet or Hammer
Step 1 – Exhaust All Other Options & Clamp it Down
In this photo, a 16d nail is embedded about half-way into a scrap 2×4, and would not budge. The first step was to firmly clamp down the wood. If the wood is otherwise anchored, you can skip this, but it’s always safer to double-check.
Step 2: Set the Nail Puller and Give it a Whack
Set the nail puller’s claw as close to the wood as possible for maximum leverage and range of motion. Using a dead blow hammer or mallet, or a softer-faced hammer (e.g. ball pein), strike the flat face of the nail puller to drive it deeper onto the nail. This allows the nail puller to cut into the nail for some bite.
Step 3: Roll the Nail Puller Back
Roll the nail puller back a bit using its rounded head as a fulcrum. If the nail is still partially embedded in the wood and cannot be easily removed or the nail puller slips, repeat step 2.
Here is where having a few sizes of nail pullers can come in handy. As you can imagine, it is easier to remove larger nails with larger nail pullers.
Step 4: Rejoice
Cats Paw nail pullers (via Amazon) can also be used in a similar manner, but many prefer the flatter and larger striking surface of the above type of nail puller.