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post #1 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 11:09 AM Thread Starter
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Default New workbench Top

Greetings from Cuenca,Ecuador.
I have just acquired a new workbench.It is quite sturdy,The legs
being of mortised,glued and nailed 4X4 pine, the top is of an unknown hardwood,perhaps Eucalyptus,1&3/4" thick. The problem is, the top boards are nailed on. I know how to attach them from the bottom,but I would like advice on removing the nails. My plan is to center punch the tops and drill them out at least 1/2" or deeper, then glue in a wooden plug. Any better ideas? The nails are quite large,the heads being ~3/8" of an inch or so. I plan to pilot drill with a 1/8" bit,and follow with a 3/8 or 1/2" bit. Does it sound like I am on the right track? Of course,I do not know at which angle the nails were driven. I am thinking if I use the pilot drill until I get into the wood, that will give me an idea of their direction. Thanks for all advice,David.
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post #2 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 02:23 PM
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You can drill the heads but trying to follow the shaft will be close to impossible. Even if it goes straight down the bit won't want to stay centered on the shaft and will veer off sideways. If you go that way (drilling the heads) I would try to punch the shaft down out of the way.
I personally might be more inclinded to try and pull them out and then plug the holes with dowels or tapered plugs.

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post #3 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 02:52 PM
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I would suggest you use the
8 Piece Plug Cutter Set MLCS_8_piece_plug_cutter_set

MLCS Tenon Cutter Set and Plug Cutter Set

Once you have the plug cut just drive in a screw driver/small chisel and break the plug off once you have removed it pull the nail out with some vise grips and replace it with a wood screw and then make so new plugs and cover the screw.


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post #4 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-29-2012, 07:17 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the tip on the plug cutters. I saw a similar set in a local hardware and almost bought it, just in case.Now I have sufficient reason, thanks.
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post #5 of 8 (permalink) Old 04-30-2012, 07:41 AM
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I would try hammering it from the bottom. This would either force the nail heads to come out so that you could pry the nails out or it would knock the top right off. If that happened you could then drive the nail out from the bottom.
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post #6 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2012, 09:51 AM
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You have quite a job ahead of you. It won't be easy to remove the nails without destroying the wood. The plug cutter idea is good, but it's very difficult to keep these bits positioned correctly when starting the hole, unless you use a drill press.

You might be able to do it with a hand drill if you make a jig to keep the bit from wandering. This jig could be just a board with a hole the size of the plug cutter that you would clamp in place over the nail head with the head centered in the hole. You could then drill around the nail head with the plug cutter while the jig keeps the cutter bit from moving sideways. After drilling the hole and removing the jig you should be able to chip out the wood from under the nail head and then use a nail puller to remove the nail. Most should come out, but if a few break off you may still be able to pry off the top, after removing as many of the nails as possible this way. Then pull out the remaining nails from the back side using vise grip pliers and a pry bar.

After the nail is removed you could easily drill for each screw and install it with the screw head countersunk in the hole. Then make a wood plug the size of the hole using a larger plug cutter and some scrap lumber, install it with glue, and then sand it flush with the top.


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post #7 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-01-2012, 01:26 PM
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I'm not sure why nails are a problem, so my reply may be inappropriate. Could you just "set" the nails deeper? Then run properly sized dowels behind the nail heads. You will not be able to follow and drill-out the nails, because nails are harder than wood and as has been said above - your drill will veer-off path. I have numerous workbenches with [replaceable] 3/4" plywood tops. The plywood is secured with 3" wood screws that are in shallow countersinks. Personally, my workbenches are not pretty to look at, but they are highly functional - which was my goal. Good luck!


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post #8 of 8 (permalink) Old 05-08-2012, 09:57 AM
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Hi David

I've worked on some pallets as well as had the same problem with a bench top of mine, what I did was drill the top of the nail and use a good punch to drift the nails out. Now the nails in my bench were placed in appropriate placing to drill larger holes and use them for my stay fast clamps. I understand the want to get the nail out wouldn’t want to run a tool across it when doing maintenance on the bench.
The nails sound like they are big enough to be able to push them through with no problems.

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