Nail Puller gets great reviews but I couldn't make it live up to expectations

  • Advertise with us
Review by Elizabeth posted 11-04-2010 01:22 AM 15120 views 0 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
Nail Puller gets great reviews but I couldn't make it live up to expectations Nail Puller gets great reviews but I couldn't make it live up to expectations No-picture-s Click the pictures to enlarge them

I recently got a bunch of reclaimed wood which used to be a boat frame. At either end of most pieces are lots of nails, and I mean LOTS – about 20-30 in each piece. I wanted to try to reclaim all the wood so I looked around for a way to get these nails out, and found many good reviews of the Crescent 56 Nail Puller on Amazon.

Nearly all the reviews said that this was the tool to get if you have to pull lots of nails, and described its use. It seems to be a love-it-or-hate-it item – of 36 Amazon reviews, 29 gave it five stars and four gave it one. Unfortunately I was one of those who wasn’t able to get it to work.

The tool consists of a hard metal body (cast iron I believe) with a sliding striker incorporated into the handle and a hinged jaw at the far end. One half of the jaw also has a lever foot. The idea is that you position the jaws of the tool on the wood around the head of your nail and slide the striker down hard a few times to get the jaws to bit into the wood and close around the nail head. Then you use the handle and the foot to lever the nail out of the hole.

I could not get this puller to keep its grip. The jaws would open up as I struck, forcing me to stop and reposition it. They would open again when I put force on the lever foot. And it took ages for the jaws to pound into the wood around the nails (this was weathered plywood I was pounding into). The one time that I was able to keep the jaws from losing their grip on the nail head, the metal of the nail head simply bent up instead of pulling out. Knowing that my upper body strength isn’t the best I asked my husband to give it a try. He was able to get about five nails out before he was exhausted from the pounding of the striker – he had to strike a lot more than “a few times”. He did note that the levering is easier if you lift the striker part up again before levering, but said he wouldn’t want to use this tool for getting a large number of nails out. Unfortunately the claim that this IS the tool for that task is what made me buy it in the first place. He said it would have worked better if the jaws would stay in the position that you put them in and not open on their own. Maybe mine is looser than it’s supposed to be.

I’ve decided to return it to Amazon and am hoping that they won’t deduct any value from it as a return, since some of the black paint flaked off on the part of the handle which is covered by the moving striker. If I kept it I know I’d never use it again. I’m either going to try an old fashioned prybar on these nails or just cross cut the nailed sections off of the rest of the wood.

View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4259 days

11 comments so far

View a1Jim's profile


118162 posts in 4692 days

#1 posted 11-04-2010 01:45 AM


This type of tools have been around for many many years. All of the times I tried using type this tool the results would vary and it was not fun to use. I still have one I’ve owned for years and have not used it in the last 40 years.


View chrisstef's profile


18133 posts in 4122 days

#2 posted 11-04-2010 01:54 AM

Nail pulling sucks .. especially the old cut nails. Soem times i use an old screwdriver to beat around the head of the nail and pry it out a bit and using a nail pulller (pry bar style) and a good dead blow mallet to pound the puller with. A tiring job no matter which way you do it.

I wonder if you could heat them up enough to unstiffen them a little???

-- Its not a crack, its a casting imperfection.

View lew's profile


13366 posts in 4870 days

#3 posted 11-04-2010 02:42 AM

Probably part of your frustration was the wood itself. Plywood is really hard due to its makeup/construction. The little jaws on the puller will penetrate “regular” wood a lot easier. Don’t give up on the too, they do work.

I realize this may be extra work because it is a two step process, but these devices could be used to remove the wood around the head of the nail and then a Cat’s Paw or Wonder Bar (or even your new puller) could be used to extract the nail.

-- Lew- Time traveler. Purveyor of the Universe's finest custom rolling pins.

View GaryL's profile


1099 posts in 3946 days

#4 posted 11-04-2010 02:55 AM

As a1Jim said these are an older style nail remover. They were more common place 30 or more years ago and then seemed to fade away. I think some company (?) was started a remake of these the past few years and sounds like from your experience they are worse than they were years ago. They have never worked very well and would punch more holes in wood than nails removed. Try using a small cats paw/cats claw. Only drive it as deep as you need to minimize damage.

-- Gary; Marysville, MI...Involve your children in your projects as much as possible, the return is priceless.

View FlyingMLB's profile


166 posts in 3898 days

#5 posted 11-04-2010 04:34 AM

These work well in softer, dimensional lumber. As stated earlier, they have never worked well in plywood, especially if its cured good and hard. I used one of these frequently when I was a kid. My dad was big on tearing down old buildings for the materials. Yep, guess who got to pull all the old nails…I have journeyman hours. I’m also pretty certain that any company starting to make these again after all these years is not putting the quality into them the same as those from the past. Regardless, the damage done to the wood as well as the nail holes always gives me the impression that just cutting off the nailed ends was the best solution. What you cut off isn’t really “usable” anyway. That’s just my opinion.

-- Flying MLB *** A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.

View Pete_Jud's profile


424 posts in 4868 days

#6 posted 11-04-2010 04:39 AM

I think that these were made to help the frameing crew to correct mistakes. I have one that I bought years ago, maybe 30 plus. I had to remove nails that had been driven into studs 80 years before. It takes its toll on both the wood and the user, and I also have a cats pawl that I have used with a hammer. Pulling nails is never fun.

-- Life is to short to own an ugly boat.

View treeman's profile


208 posts in 4565 days

#7 posted 11-04-2010 11:55 AM

My experience is that an old fashioned cat's paw works best for digging out nails. You need to use it with a hammer but it will get under just about any nail head. It is designed with sharp digging points that will dig into the wood around the nail head.

View reuser's profile


13 posts in 4478 days

#8 posted 11-04-2010 04:01 PM

How about this drop forged steel tool from Paslode?

-- reuseit!

View Bob #2's profile

Bob #2

3810 posts in 5137 days

#9 posted 11-05-2010 03:47 AM

I often use a reciprcating saw to cut the nails off flush with the board then drive them out with a nail set.
You should be able to pick them up with a set of END CUTTER PLIERS pliers from there.
I have one of those like you show and your are right- limited uses

-- A mind, like a home, is furnished by its owner

View gko's profile


83 posts in 4360 days

#10 posted 11-06-2010 12:57 AM

Someone told me about Japanese nail pullers so I gave them a try and they are terrific. Seems to really grip nails and some have what looks like a square hammer opposite the puller which you can hit to help dig some nails out. Just put the puller about a 1/16” before the nail and hit the square faced hammer on the opposite side to dig it out. Demoed my back house and it made pulling all the nails much less painful. Bought mine from Hida Tools but also found them at my local Woodcraft in Hawaii.

-- Wood Menehune, Honolulu

View Elizabeth's profile


823 posts in 4259 days

#11 posted 11-16-2010 01:01 AM

Well, I wasn’t pleased with the nail puller but I gotta say Amazon has come through again. I got a full refund.

Have your say...

You must be signed in to post the comments.

DISCLAIMER: Any posts on LJ are posted by individuals acting in their own right and do not necessarily reflect the views of LJ. LJ will not be held liable for the actions of any user.

Latest Projects | Latest Blog Entries | Latest Forum Topics