What is a Pry Bar?

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  • Written By: Lou Paun
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 17 November 2018
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A pry bar is a tool used to pull nails, to open crates, to force objects apart, or for general demolition. Pry bars are manual tools and require no electrical power. They are available in a variety of sizes and styles. Most construction jobs have several on site, so that the appropriate pry bar can be used to make any job quicker. A pry bar is a practical, multipurpose tool that is used for many tasks in construction and roofing projects.

The basic pry bar is a hexagonal or cylindrical carbon steel bar. A flat pry bar is also common. Typically, one end is flattened into a wedge shape and may be forked. Sometimes this end is replaced with a strong handle to give the user a good grip. The other end is usually curved in a gooseneck shape, and the flattened end is forked. The forked area is used for pulling nails. The length of the pry bar varies. A longer bar usually provides greater leverage, but some short pry bars are designed to create an unusually high degree of leverage when properly handled.

Titanium can be used to make a pry bar, resulting in a tool that is lightweight and nonmagnetic. A special type of pry bar which will not conduct electricity is used by firefighters and electricians. A pry bar designed for demolition work can be made of very heavy, strong metals.


A pry bar is sometimes called a crowbar. That word dates back to the Viking settlement in England. The forked shape of the end caused the tool to be named after a cloven cow's foot. In modern Swedish, a crowbar is a kofot, or "cow's foot." A pry bar is sometimes known as a jimmy or jimmy bar, because it is used to "jimmy" open doors or windows. Large pry bars are also called wrecking bars, especially when used for demolition. In some areas, a pry bar is known as a pinch bar or a ripping bar.


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