A nail puller is a handy, time-saving device used to extract nails that are bent, driven in the wrong spot, or need to be pulled out of a piece of wood for other reasons. Once a nail is hammered into a piece of wood, it is impossible to pull out by hand. The nail puller solves this problem. One end is wedged underneath the head of the nail while the user applies pressure to the other end. After enough pressure is applied, the nail is forced out of the wood and a new nail can be hammered in if necessary.
Various types are available. The simplest type is the bar nail puller. Typically resembling a small crowbar, one end of the bar is shaped like a V and slightly angled to pry the nail out with little damage to the wood. Certain types are designed to cut off the edge of the nail so the remaining piece will be even with the wood instead of pulling the nail completely out.
The molding bar is a specific type created to work with molding, a delicate material that scratches easily. This bar can pry nails out with little damage to the molding. The wrecking bar, also known as a ripping bar, is a second type of bar nail puller designed for heavier projects requiring more force to remove the nail. Other bar nail pullers are made in varying lengths and for different materials, but the basic concept behind how they work is the same.
Pneumatic nail pullers are the second type available. Less common and more expensive, the pneumatic nail puller uses air pressure to extract the nail. This type means less work for the user, and claims to work faster than the traditional man-powered nail puller. The pneumatic nail puller digs into the wood and clamps around the nail before using air pressure to pull it out of the wood.
When choosing the right nail puller for a project, consider how delicate the material is and what type of nails were used. A construction worker might consider keeping a basic wrecking bar on hand for general use and a selection of bar nail pullers made for certain nail or wood types in her toolbox in case they are needed. She may consider investing in a pneumatic version if the need to pull nails is a common occurrence on the job.