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There are quite a few answers to the question of what makes up a good tool. Normally for us the answer depends on what you’re trying to do and how the tool helps you do that. If it allows you to do something you can’t or wouldn’t do before, then you’ve got a winner. Reader ghb624 tells us how he came by his latest find.

Went to the hardware store today for some info and advice. As usual, they came through for me. But they also got a wee bit of business in return. An impulse purchase of the item seen here. It’s got a little magnet near the end of the gadget, so that you can hold a nail in position and get it started, with minimal risk to one’s thumb. I know, I know, an experienced carpenter hits the nail, not his thumb. But I’m not that experienced. Besides, there are awkward places where you need to start a nail and can hardly squeeze in with a hand. Plus overhead locations, and so on.

Still, this little item may be somewhat like the fishing lures I’ve heard about — the ones that are more likely to “catch” a fisherman than a fish, and therefore ideal for the manufacturer and retailer.

In the end, no one cares how the nail got driven into the wood. About three seconds afterward no one is going to be able to tell if he held it with his hand or used a nail holder to drive it. The nail is in and that’s really all that matters. If ghb624 is pleased with his purchase and he’s getting projects done that he might have otherwise put off, this is a net win.

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13 Responses to The Nail Holder: Is This A Good Tool?

  1. Dave H says:

    I have a pair of needle nose pliers that does the same thing and it holds the nail better at odd angles.

  2. John says:

    when I need a nail holder for an awkward position, I grab a pair of take out food chopsticks (unused, still joined) and wrap some tape around the sticks around the middle of the length. then slide in the nail at the open end and hold the other side. if the nail is wider than gap (depends on if the chopsticks are tapered/rounded on the food holding side or not) then I take a utility knife and pare away some wood in the middle to make a snug fit. if it gets bashed, no biggie, I grab another set of chopsticks and some tape. the tape in the middle of the chopsticks helps keep them together so they can’t rack and pop the nail out while I’m holding it, or split into two pieces like they’re designed to do. Again, depends on the type of chopstick, some are simply split down the middle, while others are kind of rounded down the shaft. the tape helps with the rounded ones, which are better since the slight taper at the ends makes it easier to fit and remove the nail. I’m a cheapass and a pack rat so I always seem to have some chopsticks lying around from a cheap chinese meal.

  3. Charlie says:

    I have one of these too, but mine goes by the name “needle nose pliers”. And if holding the pliers together is difficult while hammering, I have something called a “rubber band” which comes free on my newspaper every day that I wrap around the “needle node pliers”.

  4. MMel says:

    When I need to a hold a small nail or one in an awkward position, I use a piece of cardboard. Just pop the nail through the cardboard and hammer away.

  5. johnnyp says:


  6. fred says:

    Thin end of a shim

  7. Pezdad says:

    I got a similar device for my young boys – they are way to reluctant to swing away (and I don’t want to take them to the ER) so it works good. Don’t use it myself, but they are good for kids.

  8. Old as Dirt says:

    FUNNNNNNNNY FUNNNNNNNNY.Practice makes perfect. keep hitting the nail and not your finger.Also some hammers have a magnet on the front of the hammer that holds the nail. You can also let your better half hold the nail and then your aim BETTER be good.

  9. Joel Wires says:

    Whenever I need to hold a nail at an odd angle, I use someone else’s fingers… or pliers… whatever.

  10. kyle says:

    I think that hitting your fingers acidentally as a young kid is good for learning the righ way to start a nail, you will learn quickly if you hit them often

  11. blore40 says:

    Real men don’t….Ouch! ouch!! ouch!!!

  12. paganwonder says:

    If instant feedback doesn’t teach a person to hit the nail on the head perhaps they cannot learn. Remember when “playing” with real tools was a normal thing to do when visiting Grandpa’s farm? And we didn’t end up in the ER due to tool inflicted injury- Grandma knew excellent first-aid because she knew how to care for her livestock. We’ve lost alot moving away from the farm.

  13. MDY says:

    that thing has “city boy” written all over it! 🙂 I think I know now what to get my uncle for Christmas! But MMel, I like the cardboard idea for that occasional tight spot. I’ll file that away for the future – thanks!

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