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Photo by Kolin Smith

Rescuing and reusing wood moldings can save a tree and also save you from the expense of buying or milling new profiles. All you need to remove these delicate pieces intact is a pair of thin pry bars, a utility knife, and nippers.

1. Use the utility knife to cut through the caulk and paint that grip the edges of the molding.

2. Work one pry bar gently between the wall and one end of the molding, as near to a nail as possible. Wiggle open a gap, then insert your second pry bar on the other side of the nail. Rock the two bars back and forth to work the nail loose (left). Continue walking the bars down the strip, loosening each nail in turn. If you feel yourself pulling hard, slow down and look for any fasteners you may have missed.

3. Extract finish nails that came off with the molding. But don't hammer them out the way they came in; banging on a nail's tip will cause the recessed nailhead to snag the wood fibers and splinter the molding's surface as it makes its exit. The best approach is to pull the nail through from the back side of the trim with a pair of nippers (left). Just grip the nail shank where it comes out of the wood and rock the curved jaws to one side.

TOH Tip:

To avoid damaging the surface you're prying against, insert a wood shim or metal putty knife behind the pry bar.