Fine Gauge Air-Nail and Staple Remover
-Allen Keehall-
Don't be an idiot!  Nails puncture skin, so act accordingly.

Goal: To effectively remove fine gauge air nails and staples without gouging and speed-up eco-friendly wood reclamation.

Background: I saved some tightly grained old-growth fir from what used to be porch rails and was left with a dangerous array of over 200 fine gauge air-nails protruding over an inch.   I've used several methods over the years for nail removal, but old fir is hard as stone and light gauge fasteners easily bend and kink.

Construction: A very simple project with only two pieces, a cylinder and piston.  I did tweak on it a while because there's a fine balance with the depth the tool should sink into the wood and prevent kinking just below the surface.   A flush tool doesn't work.

I turned and drilled 3/8" steel rod stock.  No dimension is critical except for the small diameter hole which should barely clear your staple or nail diameter.  Note the 1/4" quadrille scale backgrounds.

The piston is made from a concrete nail.  It's hardened, but readily machinable.  The flutes prevent sticking in the cylinder assembly.

You can make the piston's "needle" end any length, depending on how much nail height is protruding.  I have concrete nails aplenty and can easily turn them to suit my specific application.

Conclusion:  It works so well it had me grinning.  But it did take time to figure out the best depth and profile for the nipple end.

Using "Needles": Take the cylinder, nipple down; slide it over the protruding nail or staple.  Make sure you're squared, centered and stopped against the wood.  Hammer once or twice to set to depth.  You don't have to beat it to death.  It will hold straight and firm.

Slide in the piston.  Hold the cylinder firmly and lightly tap the piston a couple of times as if starting a nail.  Get a feel for the fastener giving way.  For a staple, repeat.

Reverse the work and use a claw or pliers on the head end of the nail or staple to remove.  Use wood scrap between your tool and the wood surface to prevent any dings on critical finishes.

I used it on over 200 nails and did them all in no time.  I hope it works for you too.  -3/13/2007-
Piston & Cylinder
Nipple End
Piston End
 One has to watch out for engineers - they begin with the sewing machine and end up with the atomic bomb.  -Marcel Pagnol-
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