How to Remove Staples from Wood (10 Methods Explained)

how to remove staples from wood

When renovating and you take out old carpeting to find hardwood, it can be a joyous moment. But this joy might be cut short when you find out that you’ll be spending hours on hands and knees, plucking out tiny carpet staples.

The popular technique on how to remove staples from wood include using hand tools such as pliers, staple pullers, cat’s paws, chisel or knives and screwdrivers.

For a detailed step on how to remove broken staples from hardwood floors using the simplest method and the right tools, keep reading. Plus, this method won’t damage the hardwood!

Read: How to remove tongue and groove flooring

How to Remove Broken Staples from HardWood Floor

Using The Cat’s Paw

The ordinary cat’s paw is one of the most common ways to remove staples from wood. You might even find stapled-on tags on new lumber. The cat’s paw is a tool that is about 6 inches in length and has a sharp, bent end.

The sharp end usually has a notch that makes it look like a two-pronged fork. Tap one or both sides of the cat’s paw underneath the staple and pry it out.

Read: Tongue and groove flooring facts

Using Shovels

To remove staples after an old carpet has been removed might be too tedious to do with the cat’s paw tool. Instead, there’s a smart, efficient way to remove staples which is by using a shovel or long-handled floor scraper.

Hold the shovel at about a 45-degree angle and slide it across the floor forcefully. The sharp edge of the tool grips the edge of the staples and pulls them right out.

Read: How to lay carpet with a knee kicker

Staple Pullers

Staple pullers, as the name already implies, are used for removing staples. They’re best suited for upholstery staples but can be used on any type of staple. Staple pullers are short, stubby tools and have a fork at the end. Forcefully slide the forks under the staple, and rock it sideways to pull out the staple.

Read: How to fix squeaky hardwood floors

Diagonal Pliers

Diagonal pliers are a multipurpose tool that can be used for removing single staples. It has sharp, bent claws which can be driven under the staples to grip and hold. Its bent end provides it with enough prying force needed to pull out the staple.

When using diagonal pliers, also known as side cutters, it is important you do so gently because they can cut the staple off and make it impossible to remove.

Standard Pliers

You can use standard pliers to pull out staples when there’s enough of the staple exposed to get a good grip. Standard pliers also have a rounded nose that provides them with adequate prying force.

Read: How difficult is it to replace floor joist


Needle-nose pliers are best suited for small, delicate staples. It has pointed tips that enable it to grip even the tiniest staples.

Knives And Screwdrivers

Woodworkers also make use of pocket knives to remove staples. To use a pocket knife to remove staples, slip the sharp point under the staple and pop it out.

You can make use of screwdrivers in the same manner but do so gently when working on finished wood surfaces to avoid damaging the wood.

Read: Facts about acacia wood flooring


Chisels are the last option for removing staples from wood, especially when the staples are deeply embedded in the wood. When using a chisel, you can chip or carve a small depression around the staple, then get a good grip on it with pliers or other tools

Bury The Staples

If you were unable to get the staples out with any of the tools mentioned above, you could bury the staple. All you need to do is cut the head off with other tools, then use a nail set to punch the legs of the staple below the surface of the wood and cover the holes with putty.

Read: How to fix dents on prefinished hardwood floor


If you have reclaimed lumber, you might find staples all over it. It’s important that they are removed, as they can seriously damage your woodworking equipment if left unattended.  

However, don’t force them out; instead, use any of the few home remedies on how to remove staples from wood discussed above.

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