Pulling up nails and tacks

Every DIY enthusiast should have a range of tools that can be used for gripping smaller items.  These will include pincers for pulling out nails and combination pliers with cutting and gripping features.  There are plenty of tools of this type available in DIY stores, and you can pick a selection depending on your typical workload.

Nails and tacks can be removed easily using a good pair of pincers. To remove nails and tacks with pincers, use a rolling action to pull out a nail, just as you would when using a claw hammer.   A good length of pincer is about 175mm to get a good leverage, and the jaws of the pincers should touch along the whole width and be properly aligned for optimal grip.

The leverage is important with pincers, but they also need not to damage the work, so the broad-jawed type is probably the best choice as these will spread the load.  About 25mm should suffice.

The handles of some types of pincers have a useful tack lifter attached to them, although you can also get tack lifters that are purpose made for use with upholstery work and furniture restoration in general.

The nail puller or ‘cat’s paw’ is a specialised tack and nail remover with a tack remover at one end and a claw for pulling out nails at the other.  You can use a hammer to tap the claw beneath the head of a nail before using the rolling action to drag it out.

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