What are Pry Bars – Uses with Different Types

what is pry bar used for

Sometimes called a crowbar or a pinch bar, the classic pry bar is one of the most useful tools, especially for demolition work.

The basic purpose of a pry bar is to pull apart two objects that are otherwise connected.

Because of the design of the pry bar, it allows you to apply considerable force.

The pry bar itself is made from hardened steel, is quite durable, and can be used for multiple purposes on the job.

Although primarily used for demolition work, the pry bar is a commonly seen tool at construction sites.

You will often see a pry bar used for the following task during the construction or renovation of a home or building.

  • Removal of Molding
  • Removal of Nails
  • Opening Cans of Paint
  • Removing Tile Flooring & More

Quite often in construction, items have to be pulled apart once they have completed their task.

But the construction site is not the only place you’ll find a pry bar. It is also quite useful for the following tasks.

  • Opening Stuck Windows
  • Reupholstering Furniture
  • Puncturing Glass
  • Opening Jammed Car Doors & More

In most situations when you need to separate objects, the pry bar is the tool of choice.

types of pry bar

Different Types of Pry Bars

Although all pry bars have the same basic task, they come in different types to handle different materials or situations.

What follows are the basic types of pry bars you can find on the market.

1- Alignment

Sometimes called a sleeve bar, this is a long, heavy pry bar designed primarily to align bolt holes in materials that will be put together in some fashion.

As with most pry bars, the alignment bar is crafted from steel.

It has a pointed, pencil-shaped end that is mostly used to fit inside the holes to obtain proper alignment. 

The other end is chisel-shaped which allows for materials to be separated or moved into their desired position.

The alignment bar is generally fairly large and most often requires two hands for proper use.

2- Cat’s Claw

Often called claw bars, this type of pry bar is primarily designed to remove headless nails and similarly embedded material from wood.

While the standard pry bar can cause considerable damage to the material when prying out nails, the cat’s claw is smaller and does not cause as much damage.

One end of the tool has the classic claw shape with edges that are beveled.

Designed to slide under the head or to connect with the exposed part of a headless nail, the handle is then pulled using the material surface to lever or extract the nail.

Cat’s claws tend to be one-handed tools that have a rubber-coated handle.

Most of the time the opposing end contains a beveled edge or a secondary claw.

a woman using pry bar on floor

3- Digging

As the name suggests, this is a pry bar primarily designed for digging into hard, compacted materials such as soil, tree roots, rock, concrete, and even ice.

Digging pry bars are often used to make holes for fence posts, although that is not a primary usage.

This type of pry bar tends to be long and requires both hands for proper use.

One end of the digging pry bar contains a wedge, although some versions use a chisel, pointed, or blunt design. This is the end that does the digging.

The opposing end has another shape so the tool can perform multiple tasks. For example, a chisel shape can break up tree roots.

The bar is then flipped to use the pointed end to either dig deeper holes or break apart harder materials such as concrete.

4- Flat

A flat pry bar is a one-handed tool primarily designed for scraping, pulling, and prying.

Mainly used to pull nails from wood, it can also be used to pull other small particles from different materials.

The name comes from the flat shape of the steel from which the pry bar is made.

A typical flat pry bar has beveled edges on both sides. One side has a 45-degree angle which is useful for most prying jobs.

While the other has a highly curved rocker for maximum usage of force when prying nails that are really stuck in the material.

5- Gooseneck

One of the most common of all types of pry bars, the gooseneck gets its name from the highly curved end from which nails can be pulled up and other materials pried apart with maximum force.

The opposing end is normally chisel-shaped to break up materials.

The gooseneck is a two-handed pry bar and tends to be of medium length. Falling somewhere between a digging pry bar and a cat’s claw.

6- Molding

This is a one-handed pry bar that is normally made from carbon steel.

Designed for durability and application of force, they are quite versatile in their use.

The prying end is thin and wide which makes it more useful compared to a flat bar for getting behind the trim, hence the name.

7- Rolling Head

This is a two-handed pry bar that looks like a walking cane. It has a rolling hook end on top to leverage apart materials.

While the bottom is sharp and can be used to position parts or align holes. It is quite versatile and a common sight on construction and demolition sites.

There is also the heavy-duty pry bar. This is a tool designed to be struck with a hammer for extra force.

This type of pry bar tends to be thicker and has a rubber covering on the handle for a better grip.

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