Change has come slowly to the pry bar/wrecking bar category, but subtle shifts in design are making these jobsite necessities even more efficient, practical, and comfortable to use.
Over the past five to 10 years, pry bars have evolved in two directions: with task-specific features or with multi-purpose abilities. Multi-tasking bars boast many features that optimize their usefulness for demo work. Stanley Tools'Fubar, for example, combines a sledgehammer-like striking face, a two-tiered extracting claw, a chisel blade, a nail slot, and a prying claw. The Artillery Pry Bar System from Artillery Tools offers several interchangeable prying blades and handle extensions.
For materials reclamation, bars with task-specific features, such as fanned-head blades that put less stress on the material being removed and nail-pulling claws and slots with finer-ground edges, have been in demand because they are gentler on wood and other materials. “As more and more people are working on maintaining and reclaiming woods rather than just destruction and tear-down, these [types of tools] are becoming more valuable,” says Bob Bachta, marketing director for Vaughan & Bushnell. Vaughan's Bear Claw nail pullers feature both a cat's paw nail slot and a rocker head with a larger, flatter “bear claw” that slides easily under nail heads and pulls even headless nails.
In addition to improving job performance, “they're trying to make prying and demo easier,” says Chris Foley, owner of Commercial Scaffolding. “[Manufacturers] are taking the working man into consideration when designing their tools these days, finding ways to make the tool more efficient and easier on the body.” Manufacturers have improved ergonomics in a number of ways, such as adding shock-absorbing grips, changing the shape of shafts for a more natural grip, or reducing overall weight to decrease user fatigue. Some have switched from solid steel bar stock for shafts to lighter-weight alternatives. Stiletto, for example, uses high-strength titanium in a trussed design to eliminate excess material in its Titanium Claw Bar Nail Puller, Vaughan & Bushnell's Dalluge DA Bars incorporate composite-filled hollow steel, and Artillery Tools' system uses handles of carbon steel tubing fitted to an extruded aluminum body.
Many still may consider them commodities, but pry bars don't necessarily sell themselves because they can get lost easily amid other tools that are more visibly marketed. “The traditional pitfall at the dealer level is that the pry bar section has historically been left neglected. Things get dusty and dirty, or the tools are not put up where people can see them,” says Bill Fletcher, vice president of sales and marketing for Mayhew Tools.
Displaying pry bars prominently with attention-grabbing merchandising that highlights features opens up opportunities for additional tool sales, Fletcher points out, whether the contractor comes into your yard looking for a new pry bar or not.