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Going to spend the rest of my life de-nailing!

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Pallet Fancier

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A big, craggy, red brick Victorian building near me was recently demolished. Very charismatic place with lots of changes in roof line, and East and West wings, and a tower! Very cool place. Pretty sure it could have been renovated, but cheaper to knock it down and build a crappy modern box instead (admittedly, as said crappy modern box is going to be sheltered accommodation for old folk, there are amenities and particular layouts that will be needed that couldn't be retrofitted to a Victorian edifice... but my complaint applies generally).

Because of the age of the place, it was built with really high quality seasoned woods and trimmed with hardwoods. A lot of that has gone in the skip, which I didn't like. We're cutting down rainforests to get this stuff, and there it goes into landfill! However, some parts were kept (not enough, in my opinion) and will be resold at ridiculous prices. Also, the unbroken rafters and floor joists were taken to a mill and sliced into planks, and sold for £££s a foot. If the waste don't make you weep, the after-market prices will! And a lot of the bricks were carefully picked up, wrapped up on a pallet and sold on.

Anyway, I got on site after a nod and wink when the boss wasn't around, and managed to drag home some of the "small" pieces.

So, anyone know the best technique for de-nailing a few thousand times in a row without getting carpal tunnel syndrome?
 

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rob1693

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Only way to go is one nail at a time but you will end up with some decent material that cost you nothing but time, nearly everything I use is recycled use a rare earth magnet or a metal detector or it plays havoc with your power tools 😪
 

Jacob

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Find nails with a rare earth magnet, Extract them with a Parrots Beak nail puller. There's a bit of a knack but you get it in the end. Some you have to dig out with a thin chisel just wider than the nail - attack along the grain like chiselling a mortice, not across.
Rough stuff cleans up with a scrub plane - made for the job and very fast, followed by hand planes or PT
I made a huge trestle lathe stand with old joist - 6ft between centres
IMG_3924.JPG
IMG_3950.JPG
 

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gog64

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I imported a denailing gun from Murca, no idea why they don’t sell them over here as they are brilliant, save tons of time. Nails are gone pretty much as fast as you can pull the trigger. I expect the H&S police will be along in a minute to tell us how dangerous they are.
 

TRITON

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Far as im aware a denailing gun is only really suitable for planks as it pushed them out from the point side, so you need the point end to stick through the plank out the other side.Whereas I think the OP needs to pull them out as they're buried into thick timber.
 

Jacob

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I know, I know. Folks are never happy these days.

My tip is Beer, loud Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, a hammer to drive the nails out from the point side, a bucket and a set of pincers.

Stand in the sun and "Get to Verk!"
Yes it's strangely satisfying and you get all this brilliant free timber! It suits me - I really like routine labouring like digging holes in the ground with a pick and shovel
 

Rorschach

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If the nails poke through, get a de-nailer. Otherwise invest in a good nail puller. I have a cats paw type and it works well but be aware they usually need fettling from new to get a nice sharp claw/beak/peak on them.
 

Garden Shed Projects

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That’s a good haul 👍
Leverage is your friend. A decent nail bar for the ones you can get to will reduce the energy you need to in put. Then rare earth magnet and parrot nose pincers as mentioned earlier to locate and destroy the ones you can’t.
Looks like a job to get lost in for a while.
Are you going to denail it all in 1 go or as you need it?
 

novocaine

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get an old speaker to throw on top of the board as work, this will give you somewhere to chuck the nails and know they have stayed put.

I asked my daughter if she wanted to do it and she said "no, that's no fun, I want to make something" she's only 4 but I think the answer points towards it needing to be a boy, they are easier to fool.

I've heard the best way to get nails out of wood is to have a big fire. all the nails will fall out of their own accord and make a lovely pile at the bottom of the ash. :)
 

kinverkid

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My go-to nail removal kit. I have been there with reclaimed Victorian floorboards, joists and stairs. The floorboard cut nails are easiest as they tend to be cut nails. I work from the underside of the board, snip the tail off close to the board, tap it with a hammer then use a punch to tap it out. I'll use a metal detector to find the buried nails, tacks and staples and sometimes a magnet on a string. The nails tend to be softer than modern types so a gentle approach with pincers is sometimes required. My sympathy goes out to your task ahead but - FREE, SEASONED, QUALITY WOOD.
P1040247.jpg
 

Jacob

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My go-to nail removal kit. I have been there with reclaimed Victorian floorboards, joists and stairs. The floorboard cut nails are easiest as they tend to be cut nails. I work from the underside of the board, snip the tail off close to the board, tap it with a hammer then use a punch to tap it out. I'll use a metal detector to find the buried nails, tacks and staples and sometimes a magnet on a string. The nails tend to be softer than modern types so a gentle approach with pincers is sometimes required. My sympathy goes out to your task ahead but - FREE, SEASONED, QUALITY WOOD.
View attachment 112699
Same kit as mine! More or less. I use a rare earth magnet instead of metal detector.
I'd add scrub plane as useful addition - doesn't matter if they hit a nail they only are for rough cutting and very easy to sharpen
 
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julianf

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I've never had much luck with de-nailing.

I have one of the bacho claw slide hammer things, which is said to be best, but I still find that, with old wood (century etc) the nails are rusted in and just break anyway.

I generally end up snapping them off at the surface and adapting my plans accordingly.
 

Jimmy69

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I have done this job twice in my life with floor boards. Ist time was when I 16 and my dad turned up with a truck load of maple flooring from the the John Player factory in Nottingham. He put me on that with no special tools at all. Gruelling work but the results were incredible and are still there to this day.
I must have forgotten how painful it was because I bought a load of old oak flooring from an old school gym and did my place throughout about 10 years ago.
Lots got snapped and pushed in.
Never again!
 

rafezetter

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I prefer a slightly blunt de-nailer after finding my sharp one was cutting the nails rather than pulling them, I also advocate pulling them through the timber, pushing them back out via the point usually ends up blowing out the head side, if that isn't an issue then it is a bit easier.

I was also lucky enough to get to a pile of timber that was being removed from an old bristol warehouse - the whole thing was being gutted top to bottom floors, joists, the lot; floorboards 2 inches thick, I hate to think of what they did with it - I'd have had to get a container or three to take all of it, but got a decent pile, though not as much as you!

For cleaning up I've seen a tool which is a bit like an angle grinder, but has a rotary drum on the end and can be fitted with a wire drum to get rid of all the nasty before putting it through a planer, you can get an industrial version too, like a drum sander but wire brush instead - you could prolly make a basic one yourself from drum sander plans and buy wire drums.
 

JBaz

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I have a thing (some may call it a fetish!) for removing/recycling all metal from wood before it goes in the wood burner.

My kit is similar to Kinverkid's with the addition of a bench vice. If I can't get a nail out with the handtools, putting the nail head (if there is one) in the vice and using the wood as a lever invariably works. Screws work just as well, though you need enough room to spin the wood round the screw.

Hours of fun and pleasure!
 
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