Air Locker AP700: A Must Buy for Reclaimed Wood

The Air Locker AP700 pneumatic punch is a must have for anyone that uses reclaimed wood in their projects.  It is fast, easy, and leaves minimal damage to wood compared to other methods of nail removal.

What is the Air Locker AP700?

The Air Locker AP700 is a pneumatic punch.  It looks similar to a nail gun, however the AP700 is designed to remove nails instead of driving them in.  Being a pneumatic tool, it needs to be hooked up to an air compressor in order to function.  When the trigger on the tool is pulled, a hardened punch inside is driven forward.  That punch hits the nail with enough for to drive it out of the wood.

How do you use the AP700?

Operation is pretty straightforward.  The tool has an opening at the tip that goes over the end of the nail.  Once the nail is inside the AP700, you pull the trigger.  The punch is sent forward and pushes the nail out the way it was hammered in. It is worth noting that it uses a pretty surprising amount of force to do this.  Make sure you have a firm grip on the tool the first couple times you use it. If the nail doesn’t come completely out of the board, it will be out far enough to pull out with your fingers or a pair of pliers.

Flush Nails
Air Locker Tip
Air Locker AP700 Over Nail

Is the Air Locker AP700 worth buying?

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If you work with reclaimed wood or pallets, I would argue that it is a must have tool.  It comes in at a reasonable price point of $50-60.  I purchased mine on Amazon and have used it when reclaiming several pallets over the year I have owned it.


My standard procedure for reclaiming pallets is as follows:

  1. Cut the nails of the top deck boards with a demolition blade on a reciprocating saw.
  2. Use Air Locker AP700 to drive the remaining nail out out of the deck board

That’s it.  Due to the short length of the nail left after cutting and the thickness of the deck boards, the nails pop right out with the AP700. Usually, I punch the remaining nail out over a garbage can so they don’t scatter throughout the shop.  One thing of note when doing it this way: you won’t have any nail to put the tip of the Air Locker over, so make sure you take the time to line things up.

Air Locker Results
Results of using the Air Locker AP700

Reclaiming pallets in this way gives you the maximum amount of deck board, and requires the least effort.

The only real drawback to the Air Locker AP700 is that you have to get to the backside of the nail for it to work.  This isn’t to say the tool isn’t worth it, it just isn’t possible to remove something you can’t see and get to.  I typically don’t use the stringers as there isn’t much usable wood there, and removing the remaining nails is too much of a hassle.

If you want to save the stringers, using a pallet buster is an option.  As long as all the nails pull out in the deck boards, the Air Locker AP700 will quickly remove them, leaving you with a nail free stringer.

Other Reclaimed Wood

Other reclaimed wood is easy to remove nails from as well.  As long as you can see metal from the shank, the air locker can punch it out.  One thing to keep in mind is the thicker the wood and longer and bigger the nail, the more resistance the AP700 will face.  All that means is it may not punch the nail completely out.  It will, at a minimum, get the head of the nail raised high enough off the board to be removed by other means.

Final Thoughts

Overall, I am completely satisfied with the Air Locker AP700 and the job it does.  If you need a purpose built nail remover, this is it.  There is no faster or efficient method to remove nails from reclaimed wood.  The reciprocating saw and Air Locker combo of dismantling pallets is the fastest way if you are only interested in saving the deck boards.

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