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9 Tips and Tricks for Using Your Pry Bar

Make sure you're using your pry bar properly!

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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lifting heavy door with a pry barfamily handyman

Lift Heavy Stuff With a Flat Pry Bar

If you’ve ever had to remove a solid-core door, you know how heavy they can be. Lifting them up to reinstall hinge pins can be a challenge if you’re working alone, but a flat pry bar (AKA a flat bar) can give you just the leverage you need.

If your flat bar won’t raise the door high enough, install a small block of wood at the fulcrum point of the pry bar to increase the lifting distance. Hold the block in place with a small screw and washer. Make sure the screw doesn’t poke through. If it does, grind off the end so it won’t damage the floor.

This same setup can be used to raise bottom drywall sheets off the floor for fastening.

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Double Up On Stubborn Nails Pliers TrickFamily Handyman

Double Up on Stubborn Nails

Nails can be a pain to remove, especially trim nails with small heads, and any nail when the head breaks off. The trick is to use two tools together: locking pliers to grab the nail shank, and a pry bar to do the pulling.

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Makeshift Trench Tool with a pryerfamily handyman

Makeshift Trench Tool

I had to dig a 2-in. wide x 6-in. deep x 50-foot trench for low voltage wire between my rock walkway and landscape rock planting area, with about a four- to six-inch-wide area to work in. I started with a trowel and then moved to a 2-in. wide x 12-in. long pry bar on my hands and knees. It was slow and problematic for my old knees.

An idea came to mind: Why not mount the pry bar on an old hoe handle I had in the garage? It worked great!

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prying baseboard from wall with a pry barfamily handyman

Remove Trim with Minimal Damage

Jam a pry bar between the two knives and twist sideways. Grab the nail shaft near the wood with a pair of nippers. Roll the tool head against the wood to pull the nail out the back side of the trim.
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pulling drywall screws from a piece of wood with a pry barfamily handyman

Pull Drywall Screws

When you pull drywall from a wall, the screws usually stay in the studs. Unscrewing them with a drill is not the most efficient way to remove them because the screw heads are usually deteriorated or full of drywall mud.

Instead, use a pry bar or your hammer claw to pull them out just like you would with nails. Drywall screws are brittle, so if some joker used 3-in. screws to install the drywall, snap them off with your hammer. When you’re ready to hang drywall again, check out how to drive drywall screws like a pro.

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Hallway entrance into a home with a couch in a living room through an open doorwayJohn Keeble/Getty Images

Difficulty Moving Furniture Through a Door?

Try removing your door stop molding. Sometimes, an extra 1/2-in. is all it takes to get through a doorway. If removing the door doesn’t open up enough space, pry off the door stop molding. That will give you another 3/4-in.
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mini moulding crowbarFamily handyman

Buy a Small Molding Bar

small molding pry bar with a wide, sharp blade is good for removing smaller trim and for starting to pry off larger pieces of trim. These little pry bars have the advantage of fitting easily into your tool belt. Of course, you’ll probably also need a medium-size pry bar for removing large trim or wide baseboard.

The pry bar shown here is made by Stanley and called a precision molding bar.

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using a pry bar to remove baseboardFamily handyman

Pry Against Studs When Removing Baseboard

If you pry against the wall where there’s no stud, the pry bar might just go right through the drywall. You can avoid this problem by prying only where studs are located.

To find studs easily, look for the nails along the top of the baseboard. These are usually driven into studs so prying above them should be safe. If you can’t spot any nails through the paint, reach for the stud finder.

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mini Inflatable Pry Barfamily handyman

Have You Heard of an Inflatable Pry Bar?

Pry bars are great for lifting windows, appliances or cabinets to level them. But they’re also great at leaving scratches — and sometimes you need three hands to lift, align, level and shim all at the same time.

The AirShim Inflatable Pry Bar & Leveling Tool solves all that. This 6- x 6-in. bladder inflates with the squeeze of a bulb, up to about 2-1/2-in. thick. Push a button to deflate it. The manufacturer says each can support 300 lbs. There’s also a Pro XL model that can handle 500 lbs.

They’re handy for lifting appliances to adjust the leveling feet or lifting one end of a cabinet to slide permanent shims into place. You can also use them in pairs to level windows and doors during installation.

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Alex Shoemaker
Alex is an avid DIYer but had little experience before purchasing his first home in 2019. A Family Handyman subscription was one of his first purchases after becoming a homeowner, and he's been hooked ever since. When he’s not working, he can be found fixing up his 1940s Florida home or relaxing on the beach with his family.