A cat’s paw—also called a “nail puller”— is a carpentry tool that’s made for pulling nails during rough construction work.

It’s easy to see where the cat’s paw gets its name. Made of steel, a cat’s paw is a round or hexagonal bar 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.

Drive the cat’s paw around the nail head using a hammer, then rock it back to pull the nail. Note: This usually scars the wood around the nail head.

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 is invaluable for demolition work but, because it tears up the wood around the nail head, cannot be used for finish work.

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About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years as a remodeler and builder, Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996. Read more about Don Vandervort