How to remove staples from wood using pliers

Removing staples from wood can be frustrating. It does not matter if you are removing them from fence posts, wood floor, wood furniture, or picture frames. It is always a tiring and time-demanding task. If you don’t have a proper staple remover tool, you can spend all your valuable time trying to dig out the staples.

Pliers are great hand tools for gripping and pulling things. You can use them to remove staples but not all of them can do the job effectively.

In this article, I share with you the four best types of pliers for removing staples from wood. These pliers will help reduce the amount of time you spend getting nails and staples out of wood so that you can focus more on the repairs.

1. Nail puller Pliers

Pulling nails from ceiling with nail puller pliers.
Removing ceiling nails with Crescent Nail puller pliers

Nail puller pliers are special types of pliers for pulling nails and staples from wood. They have parallel serrated jaws and long handles that provide superior gripping power on fasteners.

Good nail puller pliers have well-machined jaws that close completely to bite firmly on all sizes of staples. They will even pull out a nail with a snapped off head provided there is a slightest grip for the pliers to grab on.

These pliers have a curved roll bar behind the jaws that lets you roll out staples and other fasteners like they are sunk in butter. The downside of the roll bar is that it can dent the surfaces.

So, you should put a piece of cardboard or steel plate underneath the roll bar to protect the surface you want to preserve. This trick comes in handy when using nail pullers to remove staples and nails from hardwood floors.

The heavy duty construction of nail pulling pliers makes them a perfect heavy duty tool for removing nail staples. You need them for your kitchen renovation projects to remove nails and staples.

Nail puller pliers are also the perfect tool for any deconstruction project. They make short work out of a big mess of nails. You use them to dismantle pallets for recycle. It is the only way to get inexpensive lumber nowadays 🙂

How to remove staples and nails from wood using nail puller pliers

how to remove nails with nail puller pliers
Pulling nails with nail puller pliers (Source: Amazon)
  1. Open the jaws of the pliers by pulling the handles apart.
  2. Grip the staple or nail with the jaws. Do this by squeezing the handles together to bite the fastener firmly.
  3. Place a piece of cardboard or metal sheet between the roll bar and the work surface to avoid damaging or gouging the surface.
  4. Roll back the pliers smoothly to pull out the staple or nail from wood.

A nail puller tool is perfect for nails and staples that are not sunken. Otherwise, you may need a flat screwdriver or pry bar to get behind flattened fasteners to start them before gripping them with this staple puller.

2. Fencing pliers

extracting staples from wood using fence pliers
Bates Fencing pliers extracting a staple fastener Photo:

The second best type of pliers for removing nails and staples from wood are the fencing pliers. Although they are designed for building and fixing wire fences, fencing pliers can double up as a staple puller tool for your renovation projects. You can use them to extract stuck carpet staples and of course U nails workpieces.

Fencing pliers have narrow jaws that loop under a staple. They also have a curved head that acts as a lever to roll the staples out smoothly. Furthermore, the pliers have a sharp spike or claw for digging into stuck or flattened staples. This makes the tool perfect for stubborn sunken staple fasteners.

The downside of these nail removal pliers is that they can snap old or weak staples. So, they are perfect for heavy gauge staples and u nails. The pliers also damage or gouge work surfaces. Therefore, if you are going to use them in your project to preserve or reclaim wood pieces for other uses, you should have a piece of steel plate to place between the head and work surface.

How to remove staples from wood using fencing pliers

  1. Open the staple puller jaw
  2. Hook through a staple and close the jaws
  3. Slide a steel plate underneath the head of the tool
  4. Roll the pliers by the curved head to pull the fastener.
  5. To remove flattened staples, dig them out with the pointed end to start them then use the staple puller jaw to extract them completely.

As I mentioned, fencing pliers are not the best for removing thin staples. But when you use them, keep a pair of combination pliers close by to pull out the snapped staples.

3. Carpenter’s Pincers

Carpenters pincers are another fantastic type of pliers for removing nails, staples, pins,and cable clips from wood They have a round head and long handles which provide excellent leverage for pulling nails with minimal effort.

Unlike end cutting pliers which have sharp cutting edges, pincers are blunt because they are meant to grip and pull nails, not to cut them.

These pliers are the best for pulling nails with the slightest grip. Good thing is that they don’t leave marks on the surface. Thanks to the smooth rounded shape of head that enables the pliers to roll smoothly without digging into the wood or boards.

You can use pincers in any wood project. Personally, I like to use them along with the pneumatic nailer to remove misfired nails when doing wood flooring projects. If you are a carpenter, pincers should have a permanent place in your tool kit. You can use them to dismantle furniture and remove upholstery among other tasks that involve removing nails, clevis pins, and staples.

Read more about carpenter’s pincers in this article

4. Bent Nose Pliers

pulling staples with bent nose pliers
Bent nose pliers pulling staples


Bent nose pliers are not only good for holding tiny objects or fishing fasteners in tight spaces but also for removing staples. You can use them to remove nails and staples from wood when you don’t have a staple remover tool at hand.

The sharp jaws are good for getting under staples so that you can pry them out. But the jaws should be strong enough to pry out the fasteners without breaking, bending, or deforming. This is how to use them.

How to remove staples with bent nose pliers

  • Slide the closed jaws of bent nose pliers under the staple you want to remove
  • Lever out the staple fastener
  • Grip the fastener with the jaws to remove it completely.

Because angled needle nose pliers don’t have heavy-duty jaws, you can only use them to remove light-duty staples such as carpet staples. The pliers also make perfect furniture and upholstery staple remover tool. Lastly, choose bent nose pliers that have an angle of more than 45 degrees so you can get better leverage.

5. Knipex 3831200 Curved Long Nose pliers

knipex 3831200 curved long nose pliers
Knipex 3831200 (source: Amazon)

The Knipex 38 31 200 long nose pliers are a little different from the 45-degree bent nose pliers. They have curved jaws but instead of bending in one direction, they are oddly curved sideways like a wave to form S-shape. The pliers also have sharp tips just like the typical needle-nose pliers.

The sharp jaws easily get under the wood staples while the serrations on them help you to grab onto the staples. On the other hand, the curves let you pivot and pull out the staples without gouging into the surface.

These pliers are also great for removing nails from tires or accessing clamps and clips in offset positions.

Wrap up

In summary, nail pullers, fencing pliers, bent nose pliers, or curved long nose pliers are the best hand tools for removing nails and staples from wood. Forget about the claw hammer.

So, the next time you are salvaging lumber or doing some remodeling work, make sure you have one of these pliers with you. Preferably, get nail puller or fencing pliers. They make pulling even awfully twisted and rusted nails a breeze. On the other hand, bent nose pliers and curved long nose pliers are best for removing small nails from old paneling, trim, or molding.

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Julio a.k.a Pliersman is the owner and creator of the Pliersman Website. As a handy person, he possesses a variety of pliers (both general-purpose and specialty pliers) which he uses to complete various tasks. When Julio is not blogging, he spends his time in the garage fixing cars or building stuff.