More in Hand Tools

Nail Pullers

The latest crowbars — and their uses

nail pullers
Photo by Francesco Mosto
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When it takes a heavy, blunt object to drive a metal spike through solid wood, you definitely need something stronger than your fingers to pull it back out. That's why the tool gods invented the nail puller. (Well, actually, that's why the Romans invented it — right after they started using nails.) By forging a claw on the end of a fulcrum, early carpenters were able to increase their grasping and leveraging strength enough to undo their missteps with ease.

With the 19th-century advent of balloon framing, which replaced timbers joined by pegs with lumber held together by nails, the market for ways to extract those nails took off. Today you can find everything from flat bars, good for levering heavy objects as well as pulling nails without marring wood, to cat's paws, with sharp claws that dig deep to grab hold of a stubborn fastener. One or both should be on any renovator's tool belt, and another half-dozen specialized pullers, like the ones shown on the following pages, within easy reach.

When it takes a heavy, blunt object to drive a metal spike through solid wood, you definitely need something stronger than your fingers to pull it back out. That's why the tool gods invented the nail puller. (Well, actually, that's why the Romans invented it — right after they started using nails.) By forging a claw on the end of a fulcrum, early carpenters were able to increase their grasping and leveraging strength enough to undo their missteps with ease.

With the 19th-century advent of balloon framing, which replaced timbers joined by pegs with lumber held together by nails, the market for ways to extract those nails took off. Today you can find everything from flat bars, good for levering heavy objects as well as pulling nails without marring wood, to cat's paws, with sharp claws that dig deep to grab hold of a stubborn fastener. One or both should be on any renovator's tool belt, and another half-dozen specialized pullers, like the ones shown on the following pages, within easy reach.

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The Essentials

 

The Essentials

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The Essentials, continued

 

The Essentials, continued

end-cutting plier, Channellock end nipper
Photo by Francesco Mosto
End-cutting plier
Look for little or no bevel where the
jaws meet, so they can grab or snip a nail close to the surface. Uses: Plucking finish nails out of moldings without marring the surface, or cutting their heads off flush so the molding can be pulled away.
Shown: Channellock end nipper, $16.
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Where to Find It

 

Where to Find It

moldings bar, SharkGrip pry bar
Photo by Francesco Mosto
Moldings bar
This bar has a Japanese design, with one of the business ends rotated 90 degrees so it doesn't dig into the user's hand.Uses: With the flat end, pulling moldings without damaging them, adjusting windows during installation. With the claw, prying out finishing nails and ripping away moldings that will be discarded.
Shown: SharkGrip pry bar, $16.
Wedge the thin end gently behind moldings to tease them away from the wall without damage.
Tack claw:
C.S. Osborne & Co.
Harrison, NJ
973-483-3232
www.csosborne.com

End-cutting:
Channellock Inc.
Meadville, PA
800-724-3018
www.channellock.com

Moldings bar:
Shark Corp.
Wilmington, CA
800-891-7855
www.sharkcorp.com

Cat's paw:
Enderes Tool Company, Inc.
Apple Valley, MN
800-874-7776
www.enderes.com

Flat bar:
The Stanley Works
New Britain, CT
800-800-8665
www.stanleytools.com

Ripping bar:
Estwing Co.
Rockford, IL
815-397-9558
www.estwing.com

Impact nail puller:
Cooper Industries Inc.
Raleigh, NC
919-7881-7200
www.cooperhandtools.com

Wrecking bar:
Fulton Corp.
Fulton, IL
800-252-0002
www.fultoncorp.com

 
 

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