Bill Phillips

I regularly take apart walls, decks, and other structures, and I have an arsenal of tools that make the work less strenuous while preserving materials for reuse. The Extractor is one of my favorites. It lives to pull nails—even headless ones—and is great for pulling finish nails through the back of salvaged moldings so you don’t damage the face. For years, I used end-cutting nippers for this purpose, but The Extractor works better because it reduces the chance of cutting through the nail shank. Unlike my nippers, which have sharp edges designed to cut wires and nails, The Extractor has serrated parallel jaws that grab and tenaciously hold the shank without requiring you to tightly squeeze the handle. Also, the tool’s curved heel and 11-inch length provide greater leverage. Still, despite the added length, this narrow tool can fit into tight places.

Like nippers, The Extractor doesn’t dig out nails that are flush to the surface. For those, I use a cat’s paw to pry the head above the surface, or use a sharp chisel to remove the wood next to the head, and then grab the nail with The Extractor to yank it out. The tool costs $28 plus shipping at, but it’s also sold by...

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