How to Remove a Cotter Pin: Full Guide

If your question is how to remove a cotter pin, then you are on the right page. Cotter pins function as fasteners and provide support to various parts of any machine. However, at some point, cotter pins may be a real pain especially if you need to remove them. 

Fortunately, there are numerous tools to obtain and different procedures to follow for quick cotter pin removal. In this blog post, we will cover it all!

Tools for Removing a Cotter Pin

Successful cotter pin removal will never be possible without the help of some tools. Besides the proper technique for removing cotter pins, there are various tools that you can use to get the job done. Here are some of them:

Cotter Pin Remover/Puller

Cotter Pin Remover Puller

The most common and ideal tool for removing a cotter pin is the cotter pin remover or puller. Its shaft design can easily grip the cotter pin's head while pulling or removing it. Several shaft styles are available in the market, such as hook-shaped shaft, L-shaped shaft, and pigtail hook-shaped shaft.

These designs are created for comfortable, convenient, and flexible cotter pin removal. Also, it has a great handle that resembles a screwdriver handle, which lets you work in a small space or compacted area. You can purchase one here.

T-handle Exhaust Spring Puller

T-handle Exhaust Spring Puller

If a cotter pin remover is not available, you can use a T-handle Exhaust Spring Puller as a substitute. It functions like a cotter pin puller with a hook-shaped shaft allowing an easy grip on the cotter pin's head. The difference between the two removers is their handle. The spring puller has a T-shaped handle, which is perfect for full-forced pulling of the cotter pin. You can purchase your T-handle Exhaust Spring Puller here.

Cotter Pin Plier

Cotter Pin Plier

A cotter pin plier resembles pliers used in securely holding different materials. Similarly, a cotter pin plier can grasp the cotter pin firmly and pull it from the bolts. The plier can easily fit into the cotter pin's hole with its narrow jaw and get a tight grip while removing the cotter pin. You can purchase it here.



An awl tool, also called a stitching awl, is commonly used for leather crafting. However, it can also be beneficial for removing cotter pins as it has a sharp point, which can be inserted into the cotter pin's hole. An awl's point or shaft can either be straight like a needle or slightly bent like a hook. You can use this tool if there are no cotter pin removers on hand. You can get yours here.



This hand tool works in different ways. It is a straight metal rod with a pointed edge or hook-like end. Although utilized for creating or marking lines for a precise cut, it helps to remove cotter pins. Its edges can smoothly go through the cotter pin's hole, allowing an almost effortless pulling. You can buy one here.


Mr. Pen- Nail Assortment Kit, 600pc

Another tool that can be of use in removing cotter pins is a nail. All you need to do is find a nail with the same diameter as the cotter pin's hole, insert it into the hole, and then pull it using a wrench or pliers. Using a nail in removing cotter pins may be challenging as it may damage the cotter pin further without proper procedures. Still, it is a useful tool for cotter pin removal. If you need some nails, you can find them here.

Small Screwdriver

Small Screwdriver

The small screwdriver bears a resemblance to a cotter pin remover/puller, but with a straight tip. Although it is utilized for turning, tightening, and loosening screws, it can remove cotter pins. If there are no removal tools available at your end, a small screwdriver will be of great help. You can purchase the set in the picture above here.

Small Punch

Small Punch

A punch tool helps you in creating holes, commonly for leathers. Besides that, it can help pull a cotter pin out its bolts. There are different punch sizes, so try looking for the perfect fit. You can find it here on Amazon.


Hammer Tools Framing Hammer

This tool is used along with the other tools mentioned above, as the small punch. You can hit the punch to remove the cotter pin. Almost every household has a hammer available. Thus, this may be one of your first tools to utilize when removing cotter pins. If you still don't have one, you can buy one here.

How to Remove a Cotter Pin?

As previously mentioned, removing a cotter pin is easy with the help of a cotter pin remover/puller. All you need to do is insert the tool's tip into the cotter pin's hole and then pull it out. A cotter pin remover has a slightly bent end, resembling a hook, which is beneficial for firmly grasping the cotter pin's hole, even if additional force is exerted.

However, before pulling the cotter pin out, ensure that you have straightened the pin's opposite end for faster pulling. Additionally, you can use other tools listed above to remove it. Check out our other blog post that reviews the best cotter pins. You can find it here.

‍How to Remove a Stuck Cotter Pin?

Similar to the steps above, removing a cotter pin is simple and easy. However, if the cotter pins are exposed to elements for a certain period, their surrounding parts and the pin itself may be covered with rust or dirt.

When this happens, the cotter pin may be stuck, resulting in a problematic cotter pin removal. Luckily, you can still remove it but with more extensive effort and time. Make sure to follow the following steps:

Step 1: Straighten the pin's tip on the opposite of its hole.

Step 2Pour or apply a penetrating oil on the affected area. It is to moisturize the rusted parts for easy working.

Step 3Third, using any cotter pin removal tool, insert the tool's tip into the loop, and from there, you can try pulling it out. If these fail, try cutting the pin's end and push the remainder using a punch and hammer.

Step 4 Further, solve your question of how to remove a cotter pin by drilling surrounding parts to create a hole to pluck out or push through the stuck cotter pins. Here is how it exactly should be done:

If you want to install a new cotter pin, you can learn how to do that here.

Final Thoughts

Cotter pin removal takes only quick and straightforward steps along with the right tools. Make sure to equip yourself with the correct and complete protective gear before proceeding. Keep in mind that you must consider the cotter pin's condition to choose the particular devices and procedures, which will be perfect for removing those cotter pins. Good luck!

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