Advice on getting nails out from where they don't belong
What is the best hammer for pulling nails? I always thought curved-claw models were best, but a guy at the local home center swore that straight-claw hammers were better. Can you clear this up for me?
— Basil, Long Key, FL
Tom Silva replies: The best hammer for pulling nails is the one that's in your hand. Either type can do the job.
I suppose if I had to pick a hammer just on its nail-pulling ability, I'd go with a curved-claw hammer because I think it offers a little more leverage than a straight claw. But hammers are really meant for pounding nails in, not getting them out. If you have a lot of nails to pull, you either need to work on your nailing technique or keep a cat's paw or similar tool on hand. A cat's paw can extract a nail head buried below the surface of the wood, for example — something most hammers can't manage.