Cat’s Paw or Nail Puller

By Robert Robillard on Tool Reviews

Cat’s Paw the PURRfect tool for nail removal

Someone recently asked me how to remove a few rotted boards from his deck. I suggested using a cat’s paw to which he looked at me with a puzzled expression, and said, “a what?”.  I was referring to a nail puller but I’ve always called it a cat’s paw.   I wondered why.

An Internet search on the definition of cat’s paw yields;

Cat’s Paw To be made a cat’s paw of, i.e. the tool of another, the medium of doing anothers dirty work. The allusion is to the fable of the monkey who wanted to get from the fire some roasted chestnuts, and took the paw of the cat to get them from the hot ashes.

A cat’s paw or “nail puller” is a round or hexagonal steel tool that curves at one end to form a pointed, cup-shaped tip with a V-slot for gripping nail heads. You hold the tool’s shank with one hand and drive the claw around a nail head with a hammer.

When the V-slot is firmly seated around the nail’s shank, you rock the bar back to raise the head and then finish pulling the nail with the hammer’s claw. The cat’s paw, also called a nail puller, is invaluable for demolition work but, because it tears up the wood around the nail head.

This is not a tool to used for finish work.

Now that we took care of what a “cat’s paw” is, I wonder why they call a pry bar a “crow” bar???

~ concord carpenter

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Writer / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a remodeler, general contractor, and principal of a carpentry and renovation business located in Concord, Massachusetts. He also writes the "Ask the Carpenter" advice column in the Boston Globe, and serves as the Editor of Tool Box Buzz and founding editor of A Concord Carpenter . Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review - Tool and Product Review - Video Channel, , where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the remodeling industry. The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob <a href=""

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