How to Remove Brad Nails

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Things You'll Need

  • Needle-nose pliers or forceps

  • Diagonal-cutting pliers

Patience and care are even more important than tools if you want to remove a brad nail without damaging surrounding surfaces. The slim, nearly headless brad nail fastens lumber while remaining practically unnoticeable, but its near-lack of a head makes removal tricky. Don't just dig in and destroy everything that surrounds a brad nail--take the time to plan your attack and you can pry the nail free without ruining paneling or cabinetry.


Step 1

Open a pair of needle-nosed pliers or forceps and place the tips around the small head of the brad nail–position the tool so that its tips are positioned parallel to the brad nail. Dig into the surrounding wood with the fine tips of the tool to slightly enlarge the gap between the brad nail and the surrounding surface. Press the tips into the surface slowly and dig in only as far as required to grip around the brad nail's head.


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Step 2

Press the tool's handles together to close the tips around the brad nail's head. While gripping the head, pull directly upward and outward with a slight wiggling motion. If the tool's grip on the nail slips, grip again and repeat. Pull and loosen the brad nail until at least 1/16 inch of its head pokes above the surrounding surface.


Step 3

Open a pair of diagonal-cutting pliers. Place the open mouth of the pliers around the brad nail–position the rounded side of the pliers face down against the wood's surface.

Step 4

Close the pliers around the brad nail, exerting only enough force to grip the nail, not enough to cut it. While gripping the nail with the pliers, rock the pliers back and forth, lightly pressing one side against the wood's surface while gripping and pulling the brad nail with the other. Use this leverage to wriggle the brad nail out of place.


Step 5

Loosen your grip and reposition the pliers when they are no longer close enough to the wood's surface to create leverage. Open the pliers' mouth, place it around the base of the nail, close and grip. Repeat the rocking and pulling procedure to continue brad nail removal. Pluck the nail from its hole by hand when it is loose enough to pull.


If the surrounding wood is brittle, soften it before your operation–cut a piece of sponge to fit over the nail, dampen the sponge and let it rest atop the nail for about a half-hour.



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