Clearing Boards of Brads

Woodworkers are pros at recycling materials. Heck, lumber is expensive nowadays. But to reuse lumber we’ve got to clean it up, and that means ridding a piece of fasteners.

With large nails, you can hammer them back through a board and then pull them out with pliers, usually grabbing them by their heads. But brads can be tricky. They’re thin, spindly, and bend easily. Hammering them back out isn’t really an option.

The solution is to pull them on through the board using end nipper pliers.

The trick is to grab them just enough to get a good grip, but not too tight as to cut them, then roll them out (notice how the brad is curled in the photo below). I use a putty knife as a support to keep the pliers from denting the surface of the wood, particularly if it’s a softwood.


This shot is of one out of four boards from which I was pulling brads. And out of all of those, I did manage to cut one of the brads before pulling it out. What do you to then? Take the smallest nail set you have and drive the brad (from the front side of the board) through enough until you can grab the brad with the nippers.

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Thank You Chris !! Your tips and ideas are GOLDEN !!

  2. I’m curious – why not use regular pliers that are less likely to cut the brad?

    • You can. I find the type I discuss are better at “rolling” out the brads because of their rounded ends.

  3. Needle nose pliers also work really well.

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