enter image description hereI've been pulling the carpet up and getting the nails out from where the carpet tack strips were nailed to original wood flooring, but about a half dozen are now headless. I watched several tutorials on how to get them out, but one of the nails broke and is now flush with the floor. The internet says to use a nail setter to punch the hole in and then fill it up. I bought a set and tried that, but the nail would not budge at ALL. I hit the nail setter as hard as I could. Any thoughts?

  • Do you have a Dremel or grinder you can cut them with, flush to the floor? And you say it is a wooden floor that is being this stubborn? Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 21:12
  • So I can definitely make it flush - the problem is that I am getting ready to refinish the hardwood floors. I either need to drive them in quite a ways or get them out so that when I sand now or in the future, I don't hit them and wreck the sandpaper attached to the drum sander. Picture of the room I'm working on is now attached. They're oak hardwood floors. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 21:27
  • Not really sure what the trouble is. I can drive a nail set completely through a 3/4" oak board with a 16 oz. trim hammer in one blow. Setting it 1/16" below flush should be effortless. Like my dad (a 3rd-generation carpenter) would say, "Get mad at it!"
    – isherwood
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 21:49
  • 1
    We're talking about this, right?
    – isherwood
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 21:51
  • Ok I'll try again. I linked what I got from Lowe's today, but I returned it already. I got one from a guy here at work a few minutes ago that looks a lot more like yours. I'll try again when I get home. [rawr][2] [2]: lowes.com/pd/Stanley-FATMAX-Pin-Punch-Set/1000085213 Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 22:11

4 Answers 4


Drill out the nail with a drill bit and fill. Use a bit that is larger than the actual nail size to make it easier.


I've had this problem when working on hardwood before, my solutions was to

If you use an grinding wheel (but an angle grinder or file should also work) to smooth out the rough surface of the nail, and keep an eye on the area while refinishing the floors.

Your first pass with 60 grit sandpaper shouldn't cause the paper to tear. If any nails are sticking out after that pass try to drive them flush or re-grind/file them before your next pass.

  • Thanks for the reply! The problem is that I need to drive the nails through far enough so that when I sand now or in the future, I'm not at risk of ripping up the sandpaper on a drum sander.So, I'm looking for a way to drive the nail in further or get it all the way out. Cutting it flush won't work in this case. Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 21:30
  • Ahh - I've had this problem before. - will edit.
    – virtualxtc
    Commented Mar 2, 2018 at 22:13

I have had this problem with old oak framing so hard nothing other than a Pico nail would not drive in. Sanding and a paint pen to discolor the shiny metal worked great


You hit it as hard as you were willing to while swinging a hammer at your other hand.

Try: tap... tap... tap... BANG.

The 'taps' do nothing except gear in your muscle memory and let you know if it will slip when you go 'bang'.

I bet the flooring sounds funny when you hit it. The wood is probably bouncing which is working against you, so you have to hit it twice as hard as you want to.

If you just can't get it to go, remember these spots and go over them with sacrificial paper, either all at once, or just before you change paper. Steel isn't really that hard; they'll sand. If you have an edger or a ROS use that instead of having to change paper on a drum.

  • Sometimes using only two taps and one bang is easier. Like planing on counting to 3 but actually going on 2.
    – Mazura
    Commented Mar 3, 2018 at 20:24

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