Best nail pullers reviewed | Top choices for reno & demo jobs

by Joost Nusselder | Updated on:  December 18, 2021
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Whether you are a professional carpenter, woodworker, DIYer, or hobbyist, you will know the value of this simple, indispensable, little tool: the nail puller.

For rough jobs, where appearance doesn’t matter, your claw hammer may do the job for removing nails.

But if you have ever built a shed or demolished an old wooden deck, you will need no convincing that a good nail puller can save you a lot of time and frustration, as well as damage to your wood.

Best nail pullers reviewed | Top choices for reno & demo jobs

After researching and comparing the various nail pullers on the market, and looking at their strengths and weaknesses, my top pick is the Dewalt DWHT55524 1o inch Claw Bar. It is a durable tool that won’t warp or bend and I really like the useful nail digger on the head to expose flush nails in the wood. 

Depending on how frequently you need to pull nails, it may be wise to keep a couple of different types on hand though. Let’s look at some of the best options.

Best nail puller Images
Best overall manual nail puller: Dewalt DWHT55524 10 in. Claw Bar Best overall manual nail puller- Dewalt DWHT55524 10 in. Claw Bar

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Best overall machine-powered nail puller: Air Locker AP700 Pneumatic Nailer Best overall machine-powered nail puller- Air Locker AP700 Pneumatic Nailer

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Best compact manual nail puller: Estwing Double-Ended Pry Bar DEP12 Best compact manual nail puller- Estwing Nail Puller DEP12

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Most versatile, short-handled manual nail pliers: Crescent NP11 Most versatile, short-handled manual nail puller- Crescent NP11 11-Inch Nail Pulling Pliers

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Best manual nail puller for demolition jobs: Dead On Tools EX9CL Best manual nail puller for demolition jobs- Dead On Tools EX9CL

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Best lightweight manual nail puller: Stiletto TICLW12 Titanium ClawBar Best lightweight manual nail puller- Stiletto TICLW12 ClawBar Titanium Nail Puller

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Best heavy duty machine-powered nail puller: AeroPro 700V Pneumatic Punch Nailer Best heavy duty machine-powered nail puller- AeroPro 700V Pneumatic Punch Nailer

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Buyer’s guide: How to recognize the best nail puller for your needs

Due to the number of nail removers on the market today, and the wide variety of types and designs, shopping for the right one can be a daunting task.

To give you a hand, I’ve outlined a few key features you should look for in a nail puller before making your purchase.

Type

Different types of nail pullers and removers are available.

Jaw vs claw

Jaw pullers feature a pair of jaws that are parallel to each other; you use the handle to close them around the nail and pull to remove it. This tool works best when you have plenty of working space or for someone who doesn’t have the physical strength to pull hard.

Claw pullers have a pair of teeth. They do not open and close like the jaw pullers but are ideal for situations where there is limited working space.

Manual vs machine-powered

Manual pullers require more physical effort but are generally more versatile and convenient for a variety of nail pulling needs, especially in tight spaces.

Machine-powered pullers don’t require much physical exertion and do an efficient job of removing nails. They are ideal for large-scale projects or nails that are particularly difficult to remove.

However, this type is more expensive, damages more easily, and isn’t ideal for small workspaces.

With or without handle

Those with a handle are used by applying pressure to the handle to pull the nail free.

Those without a handle are used in conjunction with a hammer, where one drives the puller’s jaws closer toward the nail head using the hammer.

Material

Ensure that the puller you purchase is constructed of the best possible materials. Most pullers are made with heavy-duty metal, such as steel, aluminum, or even titanium.

Each type of metal has its pros and cons, but most metal tools are strong and durable.

Power

The power behind your tool will determine how efficiently it handles the job.

When considering manual pullers, you should look at the length of the handle. The longer the handle, the more force you’ll be able to exert, and the more leverage you’ll have.

This equates to more overall power and a more efficient nail pulling experience.

For machine-powered pullers, the power is measured in watts. For professional use, it makes sense to choose the self-powered battery with a charging system and a good backup.

A machine-powered puller is going to cost you more than the manual one, but for a professional it may well be worth the extra cost.

Handle

Like the rest of the puller, the handle should be constructed of a strong, durable material such as steel or titanium.

Look for a puller featuring an ergonomic handle with a rubberized grip. This will make the tool easier to hold, more comfortable in your hand, and less likely to cause blisters.

Size & weight

The size and weight of the tool you choose will depend on where you will be using it.

For example, a long-handled puller is an ideal choice as it offers greater leverage and force, but you also need space to operate it. In environments where space is limited, (like a small kitchen cupboard), a short-handled puller is the better option.

You should also consider whether you’ll be carrying this tool around from job to job or keeping it in the garage or toolbox until a project comes up.

Lightweight pullers tend to be the best in terms of portability, regardless of the length of the handle.

If you opt for a machine-powered puller, make sure it’s light enough to use with ease and small enough to transport when required.

The best nail pullers & removers reviewed

Now keeping all that in mind, I’ve selected the best scoring nail pullers available. Let me explain what makes these choices so good.

Best overall manual nail puller: Dewalt DWHT55524 10 in. Claw Bar

Best overall manual nail puller- Dewalt DWHT55524 10 in. Claw Bar

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Sturdy and affordable, the Dewalt DWHT55524 10-inch claw bar is invaluable for getting out deep-driven nails and is the ideal tool for demolishing old and rotten wood.

It has two nail slots. The nail digger exposes the head of a flush nail so that it can be pulled out with minimal damage to the wood.

The pointed penetration end digs into the material to remove embedded nails. The I-beam shaft provides strength without adding any weight.

At 13 ounces it is a lightweight tool. At only 10 inches in length, it does not have the leverage and maneuverability of a longer puller so it’s slightly limited in its uses.

However, it will be more than adequate for most home DIYers, and the majority of nail-pulling jobs on demolition sites.

The quality, affordability and strength of this is manual nail puller is why it’s top of my must-have list.

Features

Check the latest prices here

Best overall machine-powered nail puller: Air Locker AP700 Pneumatic Nailer

Best overall machine-powered nail puller- Air Locker AP700 Pneumatic Nailer

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Obviously, the machine-powered nail pullers are going to be a lot more expensive than the manual versions. However, if it’s power you are looking for, and you’ve got a fairly good budget, then the Air Locker AP700 is the nail remover for you.

“A little powerhouse, well worth the money” is how one user described it.

Best of all, you don’t need to put in any effort yourself because it operates using air pressure between 80-120 PSI.

It has more than enough power to push nails out of thick pallets. You will, however, need to have an air compressor and an air hose adapter to use it.

And, because of the force behind the nail, it is a good idea to use protective gear when you are using it, to prevent any injuries from nails that may ricochet.

This nail remover is designed to push rather than pull out nails which it does powerfully and effectively without leaving any damage to the wood.

It has an ergonomic rubberized grip handle that gives you extra comfort and prevents hand fatigue. It also has a rubberized ring around the rear end of the unit to stop it from sliding when you are not using it.

The die-cast aluminum body means it is strong and durable while still weighing only 2 pounds.

The slim elongated nose easily gets into cramped spaces while the hardened hammer delivers a powerful blow to remove the nail.

You can also use the AP700 to sink nails into a variety of soft and hardwoods including Pine, Poplar, Chestnut, Sycamore, Oak, Locust, Hickory, White Oak, and Maple.

Features

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Best compact manual nail puller: Estwing Double-Ended Pry Bar DEP12

Best compact manual nail puller- Estwing Nail Puller DEP12

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If you are looking for an extremely durable and hard-wearing nail puller but you don’t want to pay for a whole lot of features that you probably won’t use, then the Estwing Nail Puller DEP12 is the one for you.

Designed with the professional in mind, but without the PRO price tag, this is the perfect tool for carpenters, woodworkers, demolition crews, framers, roofers, tradesmen, and serious DIYers.

Forged from a single piece of steel, there are no weak spots where it could break, so it is tough and durable.

The rounded head offers extra torque and leverage, which makes it easy and comfortable to use and the two different heads can deal with different nail placements.

This nail puller is smaller and more compact than many others which makes it ideal for use in tight spaces and the precision thin claw makes for the easy removal of damaged and headless nails – with the minimum of wood damage.

Features

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Taking pallets apart? These are the top 3 best pallet busters to make light work of pallet demolition

Most versatile, short-handled manual nail pliers: Crescent NP11

Most versatile, short-handled manual nail puller- Crescent NP11 11-Inch Nail Pulling Pliers

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If you plan to only have one type of nail puller in your toolbox, then the Crescent NP11 11-Inch Nail Pulling Pliers is probably the one to consider, because of its amazing versatility and adaptability.

This tool is capable of “pulling” nails through wood where the head of the nail is not accessible. This is common in demolition and remodeling where nails often need to be pulled for safety and rework.

The Crescent NP11 Nail Pulling Pliers has unlimited flexibility which allows you to remove nails from the front or the back of the wood, regardless of the size of the nail heads or whether they are inaccessible or damaged.

The plier’s teeth are designed for an optimal grip on a wide range of nails.

Most versatile, short-handled manual nail puller- Crescent NP11 11-Inch Nail Pulling Pliers being used

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Made of forged steel, this is a durable tool, and the black oxide finish makes it rust-resistant. The dual handles with rubber grips offer comfort and control and make it easy to grip, roll and remove nails or staples.

The roll bar allows you to pull nails with a smooth, low-effort action.

The shorter handles on this tool, meaning that there is not as much leverage and more force may be required to remove embedded nails.

Features

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Best manual nail puller for demolition jobs: Dead On Tools EX9CL

Best manual nail puller for demolition jobs- Dead On Tools EX9CL

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“It is tough, it’s effective and it takes a beating”.

This is how one happy customer described the Dead On Tools EX9CL 10-5/8-Inch Exhumer Nail Puller.

This nail puller is a simple ‘cats paw’ design. It comes with the added feature of a saw wrench on the side plus a built-in bottle opener!

It has a narrow body but provides adequate length to give good leverage for pulling nails. Both claw ends are shaped to get a good grip on the nail head and to give good leverage.

The steel is soft enough not to shard yet hard enough to stand up to repeated use.

This nail puller shines in tight spots. The square end directs hammer blows to the claw ends to get a bite on nails driven flush or even deeper into the board. Pivot points give good leverage.

This tool is not designed for delicate projects but is ideal for demolition projects and real-world conditions. This make is trusted and used by professionals and is a must-have for any demolition job.

Features

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Best lightweight manual nail puller: Stiletto TICLW12 Titanium ClawBar

Best lightweight manual nail puller- Stiletto TICLW12 ClawBar Titanium Nail Puller

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Made from solid titanium, the Stiletto Titanium Nail Puller is heavier on the pocket than some of the other models, but it is a high-quality tool.

Titanium is extremely strong and durable. It is rust-resistant and shock-resistant and has the added advantage of being extremely lightweight – this tool weighs less than 1 pound, which reduces user fatigue and offers easy portability.

The unique design of this tool protects wooden surfaces during nail removal.

It uses a special head, a Dimpler, which creates a recess around the nail head allowing the claws to slide underneath, thereby reducing the chance of damaging the wood.

The claw bar is 5 times stronger than a steel bar and has 10 times less recoil shock and 45% less weight.

At 11.5 inches in length, this nail puller is long enough to provide adequate leverage for fast nail removal. Titanium claws on either end of the bar help you retain leverage regardless of where you stand.

Features

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Hammers are also made of titanium for a great lightweight but powerful tool

Best heavy duty machine-powered nail puller: AeroPro 700V Pneumatic Punch Nailer

Best heavy duty machine-powered nail puller- AeroPro 700V Pneumatic Punch Nailer

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The heaviest on your budget by far, but worth the price if you need a reliable heavy-duty nail puller that’s not going to let you down on the job.

The AeroPro 700V Professional Grade Heavy Duty Pneumatic Punch Nailer/Nail Remover features a lightweight aluminum body with an ergonomic rubber handle to reduce fatigue during those long hours on the job.

It tackles nails between 10-20 gauge in size. It has an /4″ NPT air inlet and works on pressures from 80-120 PSI.

Whether you’re demolishing a shed, recycling lumber, or using pallet wood to make your own furniture, this tool will help save you a lot of valuable time prepping your timber.

Features

Check the latest prices here

FAQs

Here are some frequently asked questions about nail pullers.

What is a nail puller?

A nail puller is a simple tool specially designed to pull nails from wood (or sometimes other types of material) with the minimum of damage.

Being able to remove nails easily, with as little damage to the wood as possible, is an essential part of any woodworking project.

This is where the nail puller comes into its own. No one who works with wood, even occasionally, should be without one.

There are several different types and designs available, but most pullers consist of a handle with one or both ends having a notched head. The notch is used to grip and remove the nail, while the handle is used to apply pressure.

There are other varieties that have no handle and still others that are machine-powered rather than manual.

Who would use a nail puller?

A nail puller is a hand tool specifically designed for pulling out nails, even if they are sunken into the wood.

‘Nail puller’ is also a general name given to any tool that is designed to help extract nails that have been fixed in place.

What are nail pullers made of?

Usually, nail pullers are made of cast iron, steel, or steel alloy. Parts of the tool may be painted or coated or treated to prevent wear and corrosion.

Can you reuse pulled nails?

As long as a nail is still straight, it can be reused.

But most nail pullers are likely to bend nails when pulling them out, as the priority of the nail puller is usually to try to limit the damage to the timber rather than the nail.

How do you use nail puller pliers?

As simple as: grip, roll, and remove. Simply grasp the (nail, staple, tack,) with the pliers and roll the head of the pliers to quickly and easily remove the fasteners.

Perfect for applications in laying flooring and pulling up old nails, staples, or tacks.

Conclusion

Now that you are aware of the options available and the features that you should look for in a nail pulling tool, you are in a strong position to be able to select the best one for your DIY or professional needs.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Tools Doctor is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new equipment, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with tools & crafting tips.