Hackers Help hemnes--drawer-dresser

Published on August 1st, 2014 | by brandon1010


Hackers Help: I hammered the board to the wrong side


Photo: IKEA.com

Can someone please help me!?  I spent 4 hours building a Hemnes 8-drawer dresser.  Unfortunately I nailed the board to the front of the dresser instead of the back.  Does anyone know how to safely remove the nails and the board so that I can attach it to the back of the dresser?

Thank you,


BEKVAM for toothbrushes
BILLY grows along the wall

The Author

14 Responses to Hackers Help: I hammered the board to the wrong side

  1. A suggestion that would help you is to get two thin, flexible metal putty knives from your local hardware store. Places like Lowes and Home Depot have them for a dollar or two. Slowly and carefully slide the first putty knife in from the side near a corner and let it rest between the board and the front of the unit. slowly and gently work the board loose by pushing away from the front of the unit and outward to get the corner loose just enough to leave a small gap between the backer board and the front of the unit. from there insert a second putty knife between the first and the backer board and continue prying slowly as you go. The first putty knife will protect the front surface of the dresser while you press against it to gain leverage and continue prying the backer board away. if you are careful the brads or small nails will pop loose slightly, and you can take the claw end of a small hammer and slowly pry each brad loose. A very small pry bar will also work, especially if you reposition one of the putty knives between the backer board and the pry bar, right up against the nail or brad. This should help.

    Another idea that might help is if when you are first working off the corner to insert the first putty knife, you cover the back surface of the blade with thin packing tape or even duct tape or masking ttape. This should help you from marring the surface when you first go in.

  2. Emma says:

    I have a slightly different problem. I bought this dresser second hand off of someone and want to re-enforce or replace the hardware so it’s more stabilized. Any ideas, tips, or success stories?

    • katy17 says:

      I’ve used both wood blocks – glued into the upper corners with a good quality wood glue – or L-brackets installed with screws that are short enough not to stick through to the surface. I have access to clamps which made the wood blocks an easy fix for me.

  3. QC QC says:

    I recently rescued a Tarva dresser from the dumpster that I had to disassemble and had the same problem. I actually found that I could get the nails out just by using my hands for the most part– push with one hand flat on the interior of the dresser while bracing on the exterior so it doesn’t just rip. Hard to explain but pretty easy to do. Just do it slow and steady and it’s fine– took me only about 10 minutes to get all the nails out– after there was enough of a gap I sometimes got them out with a hammer if they were still in there pretty deep, and the nails are all reusable except for maybe one or two.

  4. DJ says:

    Get a small, flat pry-bar about 7 inches long; they’re common, Stanley makes one, I’m sure there are others. Find a spot where you can insert the pry-bar. If there is no good spot, start at a corner; you may damage the corner but it will be on the back and will have minimal effect on the structure.

    Once in, slide the pry-bar slowly toward the nail, prying gently. You want to pry a little to make a bit more room for the bar, then slide the bar closer to the nail and repeat, until the bar is directly under the nail head. With the bar directly under the nail head you will no longer have to worry about tearing through the backer board and you can apply full force.

    If applying full force at this point threatens to tear the board on the next nail head, then you can continue to loosen the board a bit at a time all the way around. Either way, working your way around the backer a little at a time is your best bet for minimizing damage.


  5. blue says:

    I concur with David’s response. I’ve taken apart similar IKEA furniture to reassemble after moving. Just pay special attention around the corners as the boards tend to be very soft. Once you have it pried up all the way around it should pull out fairly smoothly, as long as you go slowly.

    Unfortunately, you will have holes on the front, but wood filler is very easy to use, and if you can’t find a matching paint, you can use a tiny amount of nail polish. Hopefully, the drawers will hide some of the damage as well.

  6. metai says:

    Easy, but you have to work very carefully. Take a hammer and, from the inside, carefully tap against the board right next to where you placed a nail from the outside. Don’t have to apply force, you don’t want to damage the board or rip it where the nail sits in. Just more or less tap against the spot, over and over again, until the nail starts to come out. You can even do that using your hand or a finger. The key is in the repetition of small bumps.

    If you’re good and patient, you can actually remove the nail and re-use it. If you want it fast, you can bump out the nail just enough that you can pull it out using pincers (nails are dime a dozen).

    (This also works with Pax back boards. Done it a dozen times by now.)

    • Caleb DeMarais says:

      Hey there. I just nailed a Pax board on backwards at my office and I feel really dumb. I’m going to try your method and I hope it works >_<

  7. Roxana says:

    I would use a rubber mallet. It will reduce the probability of denting the board corners like you would do with a pry bar.

  8. Jessika says:

    Carefully use something flat (a straight-edge razor or flat-nose screwdriver) to pry the board carefully away from the dresser. This will make the nails, one-by-one, pop out and you can then press the board back down, leaving the nails raised. Then remove the nails with a pry part of the hammer. You may have to buy new nails (since they may pry out slightly bent, which will make them hard to hammer back in. Once all the nails are out and hte board is removed, you will have holes in the dresser. Buy some putty and matching stain if this will bother you. If your dresser is a color or a dark stain, you can cheat by just getting a permanent marker, dabbing the dry, sanded wood putty, and then smearing it a little– it will blend in nicely.

  9. dave says:

    There just small brads, correct? And you can get to the board from the back? Get a 2×4 and a hammer and, placing the 2×4 through the back opening, tap it with the hammer to push the board away from the front of the chest. do this all the way around. When you’ve got enough separation, you should be able to gently pry the board off of the front so you can put it on the back.

  10. Ian says:

    I’ve made the same mistake, and it’s really easy to fix! All you need is a claw hammer, some vodka (any alcohol will do), a magnifying glass, and any old credit card. You’ll probably want to do this in the backyard.

    1. Soak the nails in vodka
    2. Use the magnifying glass to light the vodka and burn the offending POS furniture to the ground
    3. Drink the rest of the vodka
    4. Use the claw hammer to destroy whatever remains
    5. Use the credit card to buy a new kit.


  11. Jim says:

    As long as you didn’t hammer the nails in too far, they should be able to pull out rather safely however holes will be left unfortunately that you’ll need to fill in and paint over. Start as a corner and use something akin to a butter knife to get under the board as close to the nail as you can and slowly SLOWLY start prying it away and the nails should come lose. It all depends on how hard/deep the nails were inserted. Realize that some of the board will probably rip but once you afix it to the backside you won’t see it anyway. Hope that helps.

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