Deconstruction, House and Acreage Restoration

Pulling Nails

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I am an expert nail puller. I think, after perhaps thousands of nails, I can make this statement without feeling like I’m being immodest. When you and your husband are restoring an old house, and you both are teachers and musicians, there is a certain lack of…umm…cash at times. You want to do things the “green” way. And not just to be kind to the earth, but to also be kind to your wallet.

Throughout the restoration process there has been tons and tons (literally here guys…actually multiple tons) of refuse that has been tossed. You can’t save plaster pieces…you don’t want to save wood paneling. But you try to find ways to save what you can to be reused. The most prominent resource that can be saved is wood.

The most obnoxious part of reusing wood are the nails. Nails must be removed to get the best re-use of wood.

Those are actual nails. From the actual house.
Those are actual nails. From the actual house. (And my hand for size comparison)

You see, wood is a very tough substance. That is why we build houses out of it. Have you ever thought about how a nail actually works? When you hammer a nail into wood you don’t create a hole in the wood. The wood itself (the molecules and whatnot) are squished together due to the force of the nail pressing into it. The wood is pressing (with a whole lot of pressure) onto the nail-holding it in place.*

This is great stuff for when you want a strong bond. It’s hellish for when you want to remove said nails.

I’ve seen it all.

Hundreds of nails were removed from this plywood so it could be reused.
Hundreds of nails were removed from this plywood so it could be reused.

Sometimes nails have to be hammered in reverse to pull them out of plywood. Sometimes a sawhorse is necessary to get the right angle and degree to be effective. Sometimes you need a giant crowbar  and have to hold the board with your feet to get a good grip and sometimes you need a little tiny nail puller. And you almost never want to use a straight bar. Straight bars just rip the heads off of the nail so they are almost impossible to pull. Almost impossible at least..headless nails mean you must bend the nail (with the back of the hammer) to create a 90 degree angle to get some tork to be able to grab the nail and get it out.

Picking Up Rogue Nails on the Homestead with the Magnetic Nail Picker Uper Thingy.
Picking Up Rogue Nails on the Homestead with the Magnetic Nail Picker Uper Thingy.
DO NOT go barefoot on our property during construction. One of these may end up in your feet.
DO NOT go barefoot on our property during construction. One of these may end up in your feet.

But all of this means one thing. Well, maybe two things. We are saving bundles on purchasing wood. In fact, during the window framing, when Tyler had to board up an old opening on the side of the house, he was able to use wood pulled from the roof to fill in the gaps. Because the wood is exactly the same age as the original on the house, you can’t even hardly tell that patchwork was done.

The patched house side using wood from the roof.
The patched house side using wood from the roof.

Plus, we used the old plywood to board up the windows so varmints don’t get in while we are working on the house (not yet time to put the windows in).

See the plywood being used to board up the window and door holes?
See the plywood being used to board up the window and door holes?

This becomes even more important when you learn that the old wood is sized differently then modern wood. (Not to mention a 2×4 piece of wood isn’t actually measured at 2×4-how obnoxious is that?) So, you want to use the old wood to help measurement-wise and integrity-wise. It makes for a lot less use of miter saws and other equipment if you can use the same type of wood for patches.

The other thing it means? I could become a professional nail puller.

Wood that has been denailed.
Wood that has been denailed.

 

*Full disclosure-Tyler told me this about wood. I did not have the scientific capacity (or curiosity) to figure this out about wood. Everything smart I say about this house…you can pretty much guess are his words.

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