removing nail

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I'm slowly renovating our internal doors. Been trying to remove the handles, but at some point in the past someone has nailed the (sorry, don't know the technical terms) ball part of the handle on, rather than using a screw. (the nail is in the hole the screw would normally be.) I've tried using pliers to pull the nails out, but most are so deep I can't grip them without scratching the handles. Some I can't grip at all. I want to keep the handles intact as they are original, but they have to come off as they have plywood panels underneath, which I' trying to remove.

What are my options?
 
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Any pics? usually grub screws holding knobs on if that's what you have? Nails would fall out.
 
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Are you sure it's a "nail" and not a rivet.

Old style handles often had one handle riveted to the drive shaft and the other handle screwed on and held by a screw that is invariably hidden by the escutcheon plate. The actual handle itself being screwed onto the shaft and locked in place by the small screw. If you look under the escutcheon plate you may find it has a hole drilled in it. If you then rotate the handle in the lock you may find a screw appears that can be removed whilst it is aligned with the hole in the plate. Once this screw is removed the handle then unscrews from the drive shaft and the remaining handle and shaft can then be extracted from the lock by simply pulling it. The escutcheon plates can then be removed from the door.
 
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Definitely not grub screws (had to google as I didn't know what they are!) or any kind of screw. they look like the same small-headed nails/pins that were used to attach the panels to the door. I wouldn't mind it they fell out, but they don't. i suspect the go right the way through into the other side of the handle.

another botched from the previous owners...

(will get photos later!)
 
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Jackrae - I'll give that a try later. BTW 1950s doors, would they be built in this way?
 
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Often enough, one door knob can stay permanently attached to the square follower bar, and any adjustments are made via the other knob.
Are both knobs held on by nails/rivets or whatever they are?
John :)
 
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John - yes I managed to take a few off in that way, but several are attached on both sides with the nail-like things! (sorry still haven't got photo - tomorrow hopefully!)
 
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I've managed to pull one out and it is a straight-side rivet thing. But both knobs are attached in this way. The knob has a hole on the opposite side to the rivet, so can I knock it through from the other side? If so with what?
 

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