Pry Bars, Nail Sets and Punches

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Pry Bars, Nail Sets & Punches Safety Tips

Always wear safety glasses when using punches. Always strike punches with a ball peen or sledgehammer. Discard any punch that is bent, cracked or chipped. Never use a nail set as a punch. Discard any nail set that is bent, cracked, chipped or shows excessive wear. Never use a nail hammer to strike a cat’s paw. The face of the hammer is too small and could chip. Use a ball peen or a small sledgehammer instead.

Wrecking Bar

Also known as ripping bars or crowbars, these tools are used in construction, demolition and where pulling nails, ripping wood, and similar tasks are done. Those with curved ends are also known as gooseneck bars. Because of their length, usually 24" or 30", they have more leverage than hammers, enabling them to pull much larger and longer nails.

Pry Bar

A pry bar is smaller and flatter than a wrecking bar and not designed for heavy-duty prying. It features beveled notches in each chisel-like end and ranges in size from 6" to 21". It is useful for removing nails with exposed heads and for prying paneling or molding without marring the surface. One type of pry bar features an extra curve, which makes it useful for lifting and holding such things as drywall panels in place. Double claw models provide equal force on push or pull.

Cat’s Paw

diagram of a cat's paw

A cat’s paw is a tool used to pull nails when nail heads are buried beneath the wood’s surface. It features a forked chisel end that is hammered into wood surrounding the nail head until the nail head is positioned between notches. It can then be pulled from below the wood surface.

Nail Set

Nail sets are used to countersink nails before filling with putty, plastic, wood or other filling materials for a smooth surface. Nail sets are sized by 1/32" and range from 1/32" to 5/32". It is important that the correct size set be used for each size nail to prevent enlarging of a small nail hole by too large a set. The pointed end of the nail set should be cupped or hollowed out to avoid splitting the nail head. Self-centering nail sets are available.

Pin Punch

This tool is used for driving or removing bushings, pins, and keys that have been loosened. It is also called a drive pin punch. The shaft has a long taper to the tip, which is flat.

Prick Punch

A prick punch is used to make a very light starter mark that can then be enlarged by a different type of punch (usually a center punch). It is also used to mark layout lines. The point of a prick punch has a long bevel.

Starter Punch

gloved hand hammering a punch tool

This type of punch is used to make a starter mark that can be enlarged with a pin punch, and generally ranges in length from 4” to 7”.

Center Punch

Also known as a nail punch, the point of a center punch has a short bevel. It is used for starting holes in wood or metal, or to align rivet or bolt holes. It can also be used to drive rivets after rivet heads have been removed. It makes a good all-around punch that is useful for most jobs requiring a punch.

Automatic Center Punch

This is a punch that is not stuck by a hammer. It has a spring-actuated internal drive that pushes the attached punch point into the material to be center punched. These punches are available in different sizes and with replaceable screw-on points.
Courtesy of NRHA.org