How to Remove Staples From Industrial Applications

A man wearing gloves using an industrial stapler.

Staples that hold hundreds of sheets of paper, secure fencing, or close heavy cardboard cartons have long legs and wide or curved crowns. They are made of heavier-grade wire than ordinary office staples. The tools that apply these staples drive them deep into the base materials, so removing them can be a challenge. Here’s how to remove staples from industrial applications.

There’s a Tool for That

If the only staple remover you’ve ever seen is that little pincher used for removing staples from office documents that are only a few pages long, introduce yourself to some new tools. Industrial-strength staple removers are larger, have longer handles and bigger claws, and can be used in a variety of ways to pull staples or nails.

Hundreds of stapled pages require a heavy-duty staple remover and firm pressure on the document, placed on a stable, flat surface, so it doesn’t slide around when you hook the claws under the staple and press the handle down.

Multipurpose fencing pliers may have a flat end on one side and a hook or claw on the other, so they can both drive staples into and pull staples out of fence posts. The hook end works much like a claw hammer, where you push the handle down toward the fence post with the hook under the crown of the staple. Getting the hook under the staple might require some brute force, so be careful not to lose your grip or you may cause a rebound right into your forehead. Ow.

A cat’s paw tool looks like the claw end of a claw hammer, without the hammerhead. Other removers might look like a spoonbill’s beak or a box cutter with a curved tip to get under or around nails and staples. Flooring specialists use a special floor scraping tool that slides along the subfloor and catches staples from previously removed carpet, popping them right out.

Your industrial staple gun manufacturer may make a coordinating staple-removal tool, so check the brand and look for corresponding accessories. When all else fails, a chisel, screwdriver, or standard pliers might do the job, but again, don’t get so emotionally involved in prying staples out that you accidentally take out a chunk of your finger or your forehead with them.

It’s All About Leverage

When you find the appropriate tool, the action of removing a staple is pretty similar—find a way to get the business end of your tool under the staple’s crown and pry the staple out, using the tool for leverage. When using tools made to remove staples from industrial applications, press down away from your body to pry the staple up. Upholstery staples may require a more delicate action, because you want enough of the chair, bench, or stool left to reupholster when you’re done.

Safety Concerns

Wear eye protection and gloves when removing industrial staples. Stand to the side, not directly over the staple you’re pulling out, because they can fly out suddenly, right toward your face. Use a rubber mallet to pound the handle of a staple-removing tool to get the claw end under the crowns of deeply embedded staples. Be careful not to hit your hand. Take your time, because your eyes, fingers, and sternum are ultimately more important than triumph over a stubborn staple.