Quick Tip: How to Remove a Broken Nail

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Everyone loves to score a good deal on lumber, and sometimes that involves investing some “sweat equity” into the material before you can use it. Pallets can be a great source of free lumber, and sometimes there are some very nice pieces of lumber lurking under the warehouse grit and road grime. The patina of a piece of pallet wood can be spectacular, and can be a great enhancement to any woodworking project. Unfortunately, pallet wood can have a lot of nails that will need to be removed before it can be used in a project because lots of bad things can happen to power tools that come into contact with nails. Planer and knives can get badly dinged, chisel and plane irons can get destroyed, and an expensive saw blade could be ruined instantly.

As you are dismantling pallets to harvest your free pallet wood, you’ll want to have a tool kit at your disposal to help you remove nails in a variety of situations. First you’ll need to be able to find the nails in your pallet wood. Sometimes the nails are embedded and invisible to the naked eye, so you’ll want a metal detector. You’ll also want to have some pliers, a hammer, a pry bar and some cheap chisels (not your dovetail set).
Sometimes when nail hunting in pallet wood, a nail is protruding but the head has been snapped off. If that’s the case, here’s what you can do:

Add a “nail head”

George will demonstrate a simple approach to adding a nail head to the clipped nail. This is quick and simple.

Use a prior bar

With the new “nail head” in place, you’ll simply remove with a hammer or pry bar.

If you find this helpful, check out our other great shop tips.