How to remove upholstery tacks with Pliers

A tack remover tool is great to have when reupholstering furniture. But if you do not have one at hand, a pair of diagonal wire cutters or needle nose pliers can work just as well. Find out how in this article.

Tack nails are pretty when they are on a piece but they can be a headache if you are trying to remove them, especially without a proper tool. Ideally, a tack puller screwdriver is the best tool for removing tacks and small finish nails from upholstery and wood frame. But when you do not have the tool at hand, you can still get on with your upholstery upgrade project with pliers. However, not all pliers can do the job. The diagonal cutter pliers or needle nose pliers are the best. In this article, I share how to use both types of pliers to remove upholstery tacks and small finish nails from wood.

Why you may need to remove upholstery tacks?

There are many reasons you would need to remove upholstery tacks. One of them is when refurbishing furniture and you have to remove the fabric. If the fabric is held in place by tack nails, you will need a tool that will remove them without damaging wood or the fabric.

If your furniture has decorative nails tacks, such as a wing chair, you may want to remove the old tacks and replace them with new ones. To do so, you need a tool that will remove the nails without destroying the fabric or leather upholstery.

If you are an interior designer, you know there is no limit to where you can apply decorative nail tacks. From adding a decorative trim to the carpent to affixing beautiful fabric to wood frames. The uses are countless. You also probably know that the job of decorating interiors involves trying different outfits until you get the right one. The process may involve removing decorative tacks and pins and reinstalling them in a different way or pattern. To that end, you need to use a tool that will remove decorative nails without causing damage to the material.

Another instance when you may need to remove tack nails is when laying or replacing a carpet. Some carpets are affixed to the floor using carpet tack strips. When removing such carpets, you need a tool that will lift off the tacks or decorative pin nails from the carpet without destroying your wood floor.

In a nutshell, tacks have many applications and that is why you need to have a tack remover tool or pliers that can do the job.

How to remove tacks with diagonal cutter pliers

Dykes for removing upholstery tacks
Diagonal cutters for removing tack nails

Diagonal cutter pliers or dikes (a.k.a. dykes or side cutters) are not only good for flush cutting wires. You can use them as a tack removal tool to pull out tack strips from upholstery or carpet. They have sharp wedged edges that get under the nail heads pretty easily. Also, most diagonal cutters have a high leverage design. Here is how to use them to lift off those stubborn tacks in two easy steps.

1. Dig under the tack head with the pliers

The jaws of diagonal cutters have sharp tips. Open them slightly and use them as prongs to dig under the tack head.

2. Pry out the tack nail

Pry out the tack by pressing the pliers against the surface. You can place a piece of wood under the pliers to create more leverage.

3. Pull out the tack

Grasp the tack with the pliers and pull it out. Do not squeeze the handles very tight because the sharp jaws of the pliers might cut the fastener.

Use this procedure to remove small finish nails from furniture and other surfaces.

If you do not have a pair of dykes, you can use needle nose pliers to remove upholstery tacks. The pliers have long tapered serrated jaws compared to the stubby jaws of side cutters. Therefore, the steps are different when pulling out the small nails with needle-nose pliers. Here is how to do it.

How to remove tack nails with needle nose pliers

how to remove upholstery tacks with needle nose pliers
Removing old nail tacks from antique furniture with long nose pliers

1. Grip the tack head with the pliers and pull

Open the needle nose pliers and try to grip the head of the tack nail with the tips of the jaws. This might be difficult if the tack has not moved up a little bit from the surface. If that is the case with your tack, try to slip a flat screwdriver under the head and attempt to lift off the fastener.

2. Slip the jaws of needle nose pliers under the tack head and pull the fastener out

Once there is a small gap between the tack head and the surface, slide the jaws of the pliers underneath then pull out the fastener. You can leverage the pliers by placing a piece of wood underneath.

The needle nose pliers is not as easy to use to remove tack nails as diagonal cutters or a tack puller tool. But if that it all you have got and you need to detach some fabric from wood, go ahead and use it.

There you have it. That is how to use pliers to pull tacks and finish nails from furniture without a tack puller.