Nail pullers come in a variety of shapes and sizes, and that can make it hard to find the right model for your next project, and for your budget. Shopping online can be unhelpful, as it can be hard to tell if a product description is giving you good information or trying to sell you a subpar tool.
We believe that it shouldn’t have to be that way. Our reviews are designed to show you the upsides and the downsides to every model on this list. That way, you can pick the model that best fits your needs, and you won’t end up with one with a flaw that you can’t stand.
We also included a buyer’s guide, which walks you through some of the things to consider before you buy. That way, you can make a good decision, even if you’ve never owned a nail puller before. Plus, we’ve included some tips on getting great value, so it’s a good resource to consult if you’re looking for a great deal.
|Crescent 56 |
|Stiletto TICLW12 ||Lightweight solid titanium||4.65/5|
|Crescent NP11 11-Inch ||Forged steel||4.25/5|
|Dead On Tools EX9CL 10-5/8-Inch||S-5 grade steel||4.0/5|
If you’re looking to remove a lot of embedded nails without doing too much damage to the underlying surface, you need the Crescent 56 nail puller. This model is based on a traditional slide hammer nail puller, which operates by driving a small head into the wood around the nail head, and then uses leverage to pull the nail out. Relative to other models, you don’t remove as much wood when completing this process, as the jaws allow you to go straight into the wood to get to the nail. It doesn’t bend the nails when you pull them out, which is a plus if you’re planning to reuse them.
Another great thing about this model is that it can remove headless nails. The jaws can form a tight grip on the body of the nail, so you won’t have to damage the wood excessively to get it out like you would with other solutions. The one downside to this model is that not all units are made to the same quality standard. Still, if you’re looking for an easy-to-use and effective nail removal solution, this is the model for you.
The Stiletto TICLW12 ClawBar Titanium Nail Puller enables you to get to just about any kind of embedded nail, without weighing your toolbag down. This model is made from titanium, which means that it provides incredible strength, but remains lightweight. There’s a reason that planes are increasingly replacing aluminum parts with titanium ones, and that’s because the titanium replacement parts are stronger and lighter than their aluminum predecessors. Titanium also has great heat resistance, and naturally resists corrosion.
Titanium is also shock-absorbent relative to steel, so the hammering and pulling you do with this tool will have less of an impact on your hands. Plus, this model comes with a nail exposer. Turning this nail puller on its size and hammering it around the nail carves divots in the wood around the nail so that you can easily get this nail puller’s teeth on it. However, this model is more expensive than the previous one on our list, even though it has fewer moving parts. Overall, it’s a good tool, but likely not worth it for most people at this price point.
The Estwing Nail Puller DEP12 is great for those looking for an inexpensive nail pulling solution. This nail puller is forged in one piece. That means there are no weak spots where it’s likely to break, and that you should expect years or decades of service from this model. It has rounded heads on both sides, which increase your torque and give you that extra power you need to remove the toughest nails. It also comes with a narrow body, so you can easily get to nails in tight spaces with this tool.
Since you can get it for a fraction of what other models would cost, this model is the best overall for your money. If you’re looking to get a deal on a great nail puller, and don’t want to pay extra for features you know you won’t use, this model is easily the one you should buy. The only downside to it is that it’s not great with longer nails, especially those three inches or longer, though it performs just as well with shorter nails as other models do. If you’re looking to get a great deal, look no further than this great model.
The Crescent NP11 11-Inch Nail Pulling Pliers are a good choice if you’re looking for a compact nail remover. This model is reminiscent of a pair of pliers, but it actually operates under the same principles as the top model on our list, though in a smaller package. Just grip the head or body of an exposed nail and rotate the tool to pull the nail out of the wood. This method rarely uses enough force to damage wood, and while you may experience some tearout, you’re unlikely to avoid that with any nail puller.
The problem with this tool’s small stature is that it doesn’t provide as much leverage as other nail pullers. With the shorter handles, you have to provide more force to get the nail out of its resting place, which can be a painful problem for people with bad wrists. Plus, this model bends nails badly while removing them. That won’t be a big problem for all people, but if you’re trying to do a restoration project with original parts, that could become a problem. Overall, this is a decent nail puller, but many people will need better leverage to pull all their nails.
The Dead On Tools EX9CL 10-5/8-Inch Exhumer Nail Puller is another traditionally styled nail puller, though it has a simpler design. It comes with a circular saw wrench on the side, so you’ll get some extra use out of this tool if you’re regularly using a circular saw, and it may let you take a tool out of your portable toolbox without losing the ability to do certain tasks. This model is also good in tight spaces, since it has a narrow body, and doesn’t need a lot of space to operate. Plus, it’s not terribly expensive, so you won’t be out an arm and a leg if you buy this model.
However, it’s not a model without flaw. The claws on both ends are oddly sized. That means it can be tricky to remove several standard-sized nails, which don’t fit well. Even worse, this model struggles badly with smaller nails, and can rarely get a good grip on them. You can forget about trying to remove headless nails, small brads, pins, or stapes with this model, and you may want to use a different tool to finish pulling nails out after starting them with this model.
The first thing to consider when purchasing a nail puller is how much nail-pulling power you need. Some models feature the ability to dig into the wood to remove a nail embedded below the surface, while others will only work if there’s already some clearance between the head and the wood below.
Something to keep in mind is that the longer the handle on the nail puller, the less force you’ll have to apply to get the nail loose. Some people try to game the system and hit the nail puller with a hammer to yank the nail out, but that can be bad for the nail puller itself and can needlessly damage the wood beneath. With the right tool, you’ll be able to remove nails without the use of a hammer.
The other factor to consider is compactness. If you’re only going to be working with nails in areas that have plenty of clearance, it makes sense to get a nail puller that has a long handle which can turn a little bit of power into a lot of action. If you’re going to be working with tight clearances, get something smaller that will be able to reliably fit into those spaces.
Compact nail removers come in two varieties. The first is plier-style, which excels in removing nails from the top down, so it doesn’t need a lot of horizontal clearance to work. The second is lever-style, which needs a lot of horizontal clearance but needs as little as an inch or two in height to work.
Finding the right nail puller may seem like a tall order, but it’s easy to do when you approach it with the right mindset. While a lot of people start by looking at prices, a better idea is to figure out what functionality you need and proceed from there. By figuring out what features you need to have a good experience, you avoid ending up with a model you don’t like.
Make a list of nail pullers that meet those criteria, then choose the least expensive one, which will provide the best value for your money since it provides a great experience at the lowest price.
The Crescent 56 Nail Puller is the best overall model due to its great design, ability to remove headless nails and minimize damage to wood, and clean traditional styling. Next is the Stiletto TICLW12 ClawBar Titanium Nail Puller, which is made from titanium, making it lightweight and shock-absorbent and lightweight, though its high price knocks it down to second place. The Estwing Nail Puller DEP12 comes with a rounded head for high torque, a thin body, and is forged in one piece, plus it’s available at a very low price, making it the best overall choice for the money. The Crescent NP11 11-Inch Nail Pulling Pliers are good for headless nails and come in a compact frame that rarely damages wood, but they lack great leverage and frequently bend nails. The Dead On Tools EX9CL 10-5/8-Inch Exhumer Nail Puller includes a circular saw wrench and a low price, but its odd claw sizing and its struggles with small nails mean it can rise no higher than the last place on our list.
We hope that our reviews and buyer’s guide have helped you find the right model for you at a price that your wallet will love.
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Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!