Behind the Scenes, How-To

How to Remove Nails From Reclaimed Beams

Denailing is the first step in making our hollow box beams for ceilings. When we get our stock lumber (100+-year-old antique pine), it is covered in paint and splinters, and full of super old nails. One time, we found an antiquated cog in the middle of a beam (not sure how that got in there, even). Anyone who works with reclaimed wood has had to pull nails out of their old wood.

hollow box beams baton rouge

Stock Lumber

removing nails from box beams in baton rouge

Cog we found in lumber.

Obviously, we don’t want the blade on our sawmill to hit a rusty piece of metal, so before we do anything to our stock lumber, we have to run a metal detector over it and extract any nails, screws, or large lumps of strange metal.

the olde mill, baton rouge

Metal Detector

Sometimes, it is pretty easy to lever a nail out of the wood with a crowbar or hammer.

crowbar removing nails from wood beams


crowbar, the olde mill

But, other times you have to use a tool specifically intended for nail extraction:

nail extraction tool, the olde mill

Nail Tool

You put the two teeth on either side of the nail and then drive them into the wood until the teeth are dug in around the nail. Then, with your hand on the end of the handle for maximum leverage, you lever that nail out.

nail extracted from wood beam

Get A Good Bite On It

real wood beams, the olde mill

This Can Be a Pain

What’s Next For A Hollow Box Beam?

When the denailer still can’t dig in enough, you may have to chisel around the nail until you can get a bite.

And when we are all out of nails to pull, the real work can begin: cutting the log on the sawmill. This is no easy feat. We go through each of these steps carefully. We know in the end we will be left with the best possible hollow box beam product.