Removing Difficult Brads and Staples
Somewhat related to remodels (and certainly helpful to everyone) is how to remove small and difficult brads and staples in woodwork. I need help there.
I'm doing chair and table rebuilds for a friend's restaurant. I'm pretty good with broken table tops and cracked legs and seats. But some of the chairs and baby chairs are all wood (Oak, Pine, Ash are typical) with glued mortise and tenon joinery. SMALL brads or staples were shot at every corner or intersection to set the tenon. Boneheaded, drunk and clumsy customers take a toll and we're getting many more "sprung" joints and seams as the chairs age. So far it's cheaper for me to fix 'em, but man am I hating brads and staples.
Typically an "event" occurs and the glue is first popped at the joints. The tenon is then held only by the brads or staple. Soon the joint is very loose from rocking or upsets that "parallelogram" the frames. These small wire staples (~20-28 gauge, 3/16 or 1/4 wide X ~1-1/4" deep) were set OEM about 1/8" or more below the surface and the damage pulls them in even further. The brads (~20-28 gauge X ~1-1/4") tend to be closer to the surface but are often headless. Both get bent way down in the wood by the working stress on the tenon. The tenons are cut on all 4 sides so I can't get a blade or nips in the slot to cut the wire. The brads are so wirey, they won't drive out the other side. My best hope is the wire fatigues and breaks. But most often I have to wait for the brads to get so loose they will almost fall out. Staples are impossible to remove they sit so deep, so either way I await a real break and hope the wire comes out cleanly.
Since it's impossible to dig the metal out without (a lot of) further damage, I'm about to try drilling to the head of the metal, gouging out around it so a needlenose can hopefully grip, then replacing with a small screw after re-gluing and clamping the joint. I'd have to finish with a plug over the big hole. However.... each stool has at least EIGHT staples. All baby chairs have 2 brads X 12 joints. Oy-vey! Is there a better way???
I've tried to enclose pics of the brad and staple joints and most of the tools I have for removal of objects in small places, but, despite meeting all JPG guidelines, none will upload ("not a valid image file"). So here's the text list of tools: 2 scratch awls, 2 small straight blade screw drivers, small sharp knife, a needle nose pliers, 2 dental cleaning double-ended probes, and one each angled and perpendicular nips (but they will not cut or grip at surface level). I also have a small drill press, vice, sabersaw, sanders, hand drills, rubber mallets and hammers, carpenters glue and plenty of older clamps (but none can be used as spreaders). The boss's wood chisels are all too big for this use.
Last edited by jopower; 05-28-2012 at 08:54 AM.