What is a Crowbar?

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

A crowbar or prybar is a type of tool used to pry objects apart, remove nails, and for general demolition. A crowbar can be found in most construction tool kits because it can be used in a wide variety of applications. Crowbars come in a number of different sizes and weights, depending on how the tool will be used, and some carpenters have more than one so that they can use the right tool for the job.


Crowbars as construction tools date back to at least the 1400s, when the tool was known as a crow. The name of the tool referenced the forked end of the crowbar, which resembles the foot of a crow. In the mid 1700s, the tool came to be known as a crow bar, presumably to eliminate confusion between the animal and the construction tool. In the 1800s, the terms crow-bar and crowbar began to emerge.

There are several variations on the crowbar, but the basic shape is a long, heavy metal bar with one end shaped like a wedge, while the other end is slightly forked or split. The wedge end can be squeezed under various objects while the bar is used as a lever to separate them, and the forked end can be used to pull out nails. Some crowbars are curved at the forked end to provide more leverage: this type of crowbar is known as a wrecking bar because it is designed for demolition.

Most crowbars are made from steel, which is a solid and strong metal that will give the crowbar a long life of use. Other crowbars are made from titanium, which is a lighter metal. Titanium crowbars are also nonmagnetic, which can be very useful on certain construction sites. Crowbars are usually made with materials that will be resistant to bending, which could reduce the effectiveness of the crowbar as a lever. Some crowbars with a curved end replace the wedge with a handle for better grip.

A crowbar is particularly ideal for basic carpentry and roofing. Because the tool is multipurpose, it reduces the number of tools which need to be carried around on the job site, making a tool belt much lighter. On a roof, a crowbar can be used to pry up old shingles, remove rotted beams, and remove nails. For construction, it is also a practical tool, especially when the construction involves demolition. In addition to using the crowbar as a lever, a carpenter can also use the weight of the crowbar to dislodge and break apart obstacles.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a wiseGEEK researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


I am hunting for crowbar with a "U" shape on the end. Do you know where one can be found?

Post your comments
Forgot password?