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Extractor pliers grab on to nails, staples, and brads even if the head has been clipped off — or was damaged when you tried to remove them with conventional hammers or prybars — then provide leverage (via a curved head) to allow you to pull the fastener cleanly.

The idea is that as you push the handle down to rotate the fastener out, you’re also pushing the jaws closed, so you put a lot of force on the fastener without putting too much force on whatever the fastener is stuck to. 

We’ve had pretty good experiences with these, removing finish nails from custom molding and trim without damage or from the front or back-side. 

But the real question here is: does anyone really need a $25 pair of nail puller pliers when there are locking pliers and prybars around?  Let us know what you think in comments.

Extractor Pliers [Knipex]
Street Pricing [Google Product Search]


30 Responses to Hot or Not: Extractor Nail Puller Pliers

  1. KB says:

    I have found that just using a pair of end cutters for wires works great. Put the nail in one side or the other and rock the wire cutters to the side and the same result is achieved. Almost everyone has a set of pliers that included these in them, so no special tools needed. I just removed and entire house of trim and redid the floors using the wire cutters and it worked great.

  2. KB says:

    If it was not obvious – Not.

  3. mstudley says:

    I ordered a pair of these a couple months ago and have only used them a few times. The construction quality is very high and they do make things like refinishing upholstery a snap. Not sure if they’ll find a home in everyones toolbox but certainly in mine. If they could lower the price a bit I’d give them a ‘Hot’.

  4. F451 says:

    I too own a pair, and they do their job quite well. I hesitated purchasing them because you have to add shipping to the amount, but they are made well, and they do as stated. They are big so getting into tight areas is an issue. Their beauty comes about through the fact that the jaws close parallel (this more than anything give the tool its advantage). When you pull back the curved portion adds strength to the pull. I am happy with the acquisition. Rating: HOT

  5. Nick Carter says:

    A big pair of Channelocks works good, has a round head for cam action, etc.
    I have used the slide hammer type of nail removers for big nails and they do work well.

  6. Tom says:

    Should you really need to pull enough nails to need something like this? I do like linesman pliers for staples though.

  7. shrique says:

    Personally I’ve found a good pair of end nippers with a good rounded head work fine. Probably cheaper too. The pair I use is probably 50 years old.

  8. tim says:

    I use an old pair of Heller hoof nippers. Flea market, 2 bucks.

  9. benjamen says:

    After trying to extract 16 gauge finish nails shot from my nailer with a 10″ pair of end nippers I would have to say Hot! End nippers seem to work better on standard round nails. I have used them to extract round nails from the backside of trim many times successfully. But after having to remove the square nails from a piece of trim I had just put up with my air nailer, the nippers failed me. No matter how lightly I squeezed them, when I rocked them to the side to extract the nail, I cut the nail instead of extracting it.

    I think the extractor nail pullers would fair much better at pulling the square air nailer nails because they grab the nail over a large area, not cut into the nail.

  10. Kaden says:

    This is actually my go-too tool for harvesting skidwood. Usually after midnight, usually in the freakin’ rain.

    Duz wot is sez on the packet.

  11. Jim says:

    HOT. I have a pair and have given away two pairs locally and taken two pairs to a woodworking shop in Switzerland. Everyone loves them. The head design is small and allows you to get closer to walls or into a corner. The design allows good leverage. The parallel clamping jaws and offset teeth create a strong grip on the fastener while reducing the chance of shearing it. One of the pairs given away is used daily to breakdown pallets and remove the air-driven, clipped head, rosin coated, thin-shank screwnails. They work very well and have shown limited wear after months of daily use. Better and faster than any other method used. The superior gripping strength also allows you to pull nails, head and all, through the material. The material must be clamped securely, but it can be done will minimal effort and a cheater pipe to extend the handle. I used this method, rather than back the nails out, to recover a bunch of pressure treated decking. I wish they came in a bigger and a smaller size. When they do, I will be buying one of each for myself, and a couple additional pairs to put into Santa’s bag. These are one of my preferred gift items.

  12. ambush27 says:

    Many times I have had to use wire cutters or pliers to get a nail with a broken head out of a board, anything that helps that process can only be good, and as for the cost, most of us probably have four or five hammers lying around anyway. how much did all those cost… I would say hot.

  13. Mel E. says:

    I use them all the time. I also work for Habitat for humanity and have volunteers use these as well due to there being less of a chance of damaging the trim pieces they are working with. On a typical interior trim day with a dozen or so people on site I usually have three nips around.

  14. Mike says:

    Hot. I often pull lots of nails out of interior walls before painting. Some people have them every where. Also sometimes old shutters were nailed instead of screwed to the house. This thing is faster and easier for removing lots of nails quick.

  15. Brian Hayes says:

    Using this Extractor on pallets. Both new and rusty old nails in mixes of hardwood and softwood. They grab great. The pull is steady and the leverage on the curved fulcrum is designed so that the extraction is smooth. This makes the tool safe as well as effective. Easy to use. Grabs so that nails aren’t broken off. I think these are a huge improvement over any claw or pincer on the market.

  16. Ian Gale says:

    It sounds llike i need a pair for removing floorboard nails!!
    Is there anywhere in Perth (Western Australia) that they are stocked?
    I cant seem to raise them anywhere?

  17. Keith says:

    use them all the time to pull pneumatic nails and staples. Anything else shears them off. ***** in my book.

  18. Dave Yost says:

    These are astounding. Do not confuse this tool with any other kind of pliers. It is a TOOL specifically designed to pull nails. To cost it out is ridiculous if you are going to be actually using the tool. The cost is nothing. Two hours of using this tool and it’s paid for.
    I owned one and gave it to the Boy Scouts because a tree fell on two of their cabins. They wanted to salvage the wood. Hundreds of nails. Volunteers waited in line to pull the nails. It’s so easy it’s fun. If you pull nails, buy one. You can thank me later. Forget vice-grips/pliers. This thing will pull the nails five times faster. Ten times easier, and does very little damage to the wood.

  19. Peter says:

    These are the best bloody nail pullers I have ever used, I paid around $60.00AUD from Bunnings in Australia. I needed these for a job removing hundreds of 25mm staples used to hold masonite flooring underlay. They are the only tool that managed to pull the staples out rather than break them off.

    These are definitely a HOT item!!!

  20. Keith says:

    Hot. Use them to pull staples and pneumatic nails all the time.

  21. Grey Ghost says:

    These rock if you need to pull nails or staples out of anything even hardwood pallets. I got my pair from a market $25 and have been looking for another pair since. Many people have asked where they can get one once they have tried it out. Definitely HOT

  22. tflame says:

    I was given these as a gift and I love them. Mostly use for rough work but when doing molding work these work awesome and leave no mark or damage to finish. But I cannot find these anywhere localy.

  23. Z-clip says:

    Definitely “hot”, but if you pull lots of different types of nails and often. The more mundane can get you through most situations, but if you want a tool that will pull A N Y nail you throw at it, these bad boys will rock you face completely off. The most problematic of nails, the spiral shank pallet nail, can still be stubborn (usually when the nail is corroded), but by either soaking the area around the nail with a wet soapy rag for a couple hours, or drilling a 1/16″ hole in cardinal directions around the nail, you will reduce it’s chance of snapping off to almost zero. They grab better than channel locks/Vice grips because the lip is a little narrower, with strong corners on all the teeth (locks/grips always seem to have slightly eased edges here). They apply pressure evenly across the “bite” whereas dykes/cutters/nippers pinch in one spot creating indention on either side of the “bite” often resulting in creating a snapping point. If the shank is snapped to close to the surface, you can still get the nail out by carving down about 3/8″ inline with your “pull” and give it another go, though I only do this with wood I’m reclaiming, and I use the 4 relief hole method mentioned earlier, this is the only time I’ve had to mar the wood to get a nail out. They will work on screws too, but no guarantee the thing won’t snap off out of pure spite. Cheers.

  24. Nick says:

    I picked these up from my local home improvement store last night for under $20 (they were by the pry bars). Absolutely love them. I’m removing and refinishing all the woodwork so there are several finish nails and brads to pull. This worked great even when I had only 1/8″ to grab and even at odd angles (like finish nails in the walls below the carpet line). This has got to be my favorite tool purchase of the year so far.

  25. Dennis Scarborough says:

    Hot! I found this to be one of the best hand tools I have ever purchased. It will pull circa 1920 finish nails (the heads are larger than today’s nail) through the back side of a board with much less effort than any other tool. I am looking to buy two more to give to my boys. Hopefully that will keep a pair in MY toolbox.

  26. Sepp Spenlinhauer says:

    We have a pair of these that have done thousands of nails.
    It is my GOTO tool.
    I modified it with a spring to make it faster to use, but now after a decade, the front tooth is chipped beyond use so it won’t grab the tiniest of nubs, which it used to do with ease!
    I might be bummed to find out it’s not available anymore! I can’t find it….

  27. Scott Fischer says:

    I’ve had a pair for two or three years and I like them… Yes, some may see them as pricey, but I am one who prefers to have:

    1) high quality, well-made tools and these certainly qualify;
    2) the right tool for job, even if I don’t use it everyday.

    I am in manufacturing I.T. these days … but I started in high tech as an electrician and general mechanic, so I have a hands-on, mechanical background and appreciate good tools.

    Hot, given my penchant for good quality, task-specific tools.

    PS: Price is somewhat relative these day, given the prices of cars, houses, cell phones, a gallon of gas, a cup of coffee at a “brand name” coffee establishment, etc. I am old enough to have paid less than a quarter for a gallon of gas when competing stations were having a “Gas War.”

  28. Steve Bausch says:

    I came upon this discussion when trying to find 90 degree nail pullers, for tacks, staples, etc. in flooring.
    I’ve got a Channel Lock version of this style, but this style isn’t offered as right angle.

    So I’m buying right-angle locking pliers. Perhaps I’ll have that “crest” welded onto them…

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