Steel Sash Pins, removal

Repair methods, procedures and details.
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Steel Sash Pins, removal

Postby johnleeke » Wed Jun 27, 2018 5:05 pm

Sash are made so that they can be disassembled for repairs.

[size=150]Removing Steel Sash Pins[/size]

To get steel pins out of wood sash joints:

[b]Find the pin's exact location[/b]
Locate the steel pin with a magnetic stud-finder. Locating the pin from both faces of the sash will give you an indication if the pin is on an angle or goes straight through the sash.

Magnetic stud finder suppler:
[img][/img] ... B0000BYD3K

Determine which face of the sash the pin was inserted into. In the 19th and 20th century the pins were usually put into the outside face of the sash. you may not see any visual evidence of a hole if it has been painted over. You may see a hole that has been filled with putty. You may see just a slight slit or blemish in the wood surface. Work an ice pick or narrow awl into the hole to dig out the putty, or widen the slit slightly, and feel the end of the sash pin, but don't make the hole in the sash any bigger in diameter than the sash pin or drift pin you will use next.

[b]Drill a hole for the pin to come out through.[/b]
Flip the sash over to the inside and use the stud finder to locate the pin. Drill a 1/8" hole from the surface down to the pointed end of the pin that is embedded in the wood. Stop drilling when you feel the steel pin with the drill bit. This hole will make room for the pin to come out.

If the original steel pin is in good condition and I can drift it out cleanly leaving a good hole, I'll sometimes put the original pin back in the old hole, or put in a pin new that is slightly larger in diameter. Other times I'll fill the old pin hole with wood-epoxy repair methods and put a pin in another location.

[b]Lay the sash down flat on a soft pine board, exterior face up[/b]
the soft pine backs up the wood around the emerging pin and usually keeps the pin from splitting out the wood of the sash.

[b]Drive the pin on through the sash[/b]
Use a drift pin about the same diameter of the steel pin (usually 1/8", 5/32" or 3/16" diameter), until the pin sticks out the other side of the sash about 1/4", Use a parallel-sided drift pin, rather than a nail set that has tapered sides that can wedge and split the wood of the sash. You can make a drift pin by taking a 20-penny nail and filing or grinding off the point.

Drift pin suppliers:

Low-cost low-quality:
[img][/img] ... B000WR1RL2

High cost, high-quality:
[img][/img] ... B0006J4OUC

[b]Pull out the pin[/b]
Turn the sash over and grab the pin with vice-grips (ordinary pliers will probably not work), while twisting the pin pull it out.

I used to always drill the pins out with a hollow core bit, but the method above works better and is quicker if the pin is in good condition.

[size=150]Removing Steel Pins with Hollow Core Bit Method[/size]

If the original pin is rusty it may be bound by the rust to the wood, or enough moisture may have gotten in around the pin to leave the pin somewhat loose. In these cases I drill the pin out with a hollow core bit and then when reassembling the sash I'll put the joint back together with a wooden peg.

Note hollow core bit laying on sash. It has teeth that "point to the left" so it will saw into the wood with the drill rotating counter-clockwise.

[b]Chuck and position the bit.[/b]
The bit is chucked into the drill. The bit is carefully positioned to surround the pin as it cuts down into the wood. If the bit is not correctly positioned it may cut into the steel pin, which should be avoided. Begin the cut with the drill rotating clockwise for an easier start. Once the hole is started, chance the rotation to counter-clockwise for a more aggressive and faster cut.

[b]Pull out the pin.[/b]
Grab the pin with pointed pliers. Twist and wiggle the pin to loosen it, then pull it out.

[b]Ream out the hole.[/b]
Select a sharp twist bit and ream out the hole in the sash, drilling all the way through, to prepare the hole for a wooden peg.

Sources for hollow core bits:

Hollow Screw Extractors, from Highland Woodworking,
[img][/img] ... ctors.aspx
Made of hardened steel, may hold up to cutting into pins, but brittle and may break.

[img][/img] [img][/img]
More durable than the Hollow Screw Extractors (above).
Maker's website:
from Amazon: ... _1?ie=UTF8
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Site Admin
Posts: 183
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:21 pm
Location: Portland, Maine, USA

Re: Steel Sash Pins

Postby johnleeke » Thu Jun 28, 2018 1:12 am

Shawn Woolery of San Diego Sash Company has had a batch of sash pins made by Maze Nails, the 150 year old American specialty nail manufacturer. Maze used to regularly produce sash pins, but discontinued the item years ago. A batch is a minimum of 1000 #, so let Shawn or Bill know what you need. If there is sufficient demand the pins will be repacked into smaller boxes for resale. Contact Shawn at San Diego Sash Company, 619-749-1591, shawn[at] or Bill Hewitson at Weston Millwork Company, (816) 640-5555, info[at]

These are excellent pins made of mild steel and double hot-dipped galvanized. They are available in three lengths.

Site Admin
Posts: 183
Joined: Thu Aug 29, 2013 8:21 pm
Location: Portland, Maine, USA

Re: Steel Sash Pins, removal

Postby johnleeke » Fri Jan 04, 2019 3:55 pm

I now use little tiny miniature pointy vicegrips to pull the pin. Not the best quality tool, but entirely adequate for pulling pins.

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