Pry bars and crowbars are common tools used for prying and levering on a variety of objects. Though they may appear similar at first glance, there are a few key differences between these two bar-shaped tools.
In this post, I’ll explore the key differences and similarities between pry bars and crowbars, when you should use each one, and much more. Let’s get started!
What is a Pry Bar
A pry bar is a hand tool that’s designed to pull objects apart.
It’s made from a steel alloy and flattened into a strong bar containing a claw, flattened, or pointed end.
Pry bars are versatile tools many woodworkers have in their toolboxes.
The flattened portion allows the metal to work as a lever, and the tools at the end work for poking holes, ripping out nails, and pulling items apart.
Many pry bars receive heat treatment that transforms them into powerful tools before getting coated with a rust-resistant substance.
Pry bars come in all different sizes, with the smallest being just a few inches long and the largest reaching up to 4 feet.
The size of the pry bar you need depends on the job you’re working on.
Types of Pry Bars
A pry bar is a broad term that can cover many different tools.
Here are some common types of pry bars you can find:
- Alignment pry bar: The longest and heaviest pry bars, meant to align bolts and stop instability in a structure.
- Cat’s claw pry bar: Intended to get rid of embedded and headless nails in wood.
- Digging pry bar: These push through compacted material, such as dirt.
- Flat pry bar: Meant to pry, scrape, and pull.
- Gooseneck pry bar: Another choice for pulling, scraping, and destroying.
- Heavy-duty pry bar: Meant to be slammed with a hammer for more leverage.
- Molding pry bar: Work for multiple purposes, including nail-pulling and removing trim.
- Rolling-head pry bar: Provides excellent leverage for pulling and prying.
The type of pry bar you’ll need will depend on what you’re using it for.
Uses for a Pry Bar
There are tons of uses for a pry bar. Whether you’re a construction worker, a woodworker or homeowner, you can find a function for a pry bar.
Here are a few of the uses for a pry bar:
- Opening windows that are stuck
- Getting rid of molding
- Opening car doors that are jammed
- Breaking glass
- Removing tiling on a floor
- Pressing open paint cans
These are just a few of the uses for pry bars. As you can see, they come in handy in a variety of situations!
What is a Crowbar
A crowbar is very similar to a pry bar.
Like the pry bar, it’s a tool that uses leverage to push items open.
On a crowbar, there is usually a smaller chiseled end and a bigger curved spot on the other. Many of them have nail pullers to provide versatile functions for users.
Crowbars are often thinner than pry bars, but they provide the same function. It’s easy to get them mixed up because you can accomplish the same task with either.
If you think this difference is confusing, you’re not alone. Let’s talk about the types of crowbars on the market.
Types of Crowbars
Although most pry bars can function as crowbars, it’s also helpful to determine the types of crowbars on the market.
Here are a few types of crowbars you’ll find:
- Building crowbar: This tool pulls nails and other materials out of wood. It’s a popular choice for builders.
- Wrecking crowbar: This crowbar works to open tight crates and other items pressed tight together.
- Ground crowbar: This item is used to dig holes in the ground.
Uses for a Crowbar
There are many uses for a crowbar. However, most people use them to open crates and remove unwanted paneling before another project. You can also use most crowbars for the same functions as a pry bar.
Here are a few additional ways to use a crowbar:
- Easily pry items apart
- Remove nails and from wood
- Remove staples from wood
- Demolish items with a powerful hinge
Biggest Difference Between Pry Bar and Crowbar
There isn’t much that separates a pry bar and a crowbar – they are both solid metal rods that work to pull apart items.
However, one characteristic can help you easily determine if you have a pry bar or a crowbar.
A pry bar is usually flat and thin while a crowbar is longer and thicker.
Crowbars are larger and sturdier than pry bars and can be better at pulling items apart.
Many pry bars also provide a way to change the size, whereas all crowbars come in a fixed-size format.
What To Consider Before Buying
If you are interested in a pry bar or a crowbar, there are many factors to consider before purchasing these tools.
The first thing you should examine in your pry bar or crowbar is the quality.
You want something made in a shape that can effectively complete its job, while lasting for years to come.
It needs to be made from solid metal, fixed with anti-corrosion chemicals to prevent rust from settling on the bar.
Some companies are better than others when it comes to pry bars and crowbars. For example, Kobalt is a solid brand that manufactures many different tools like pry bars.
Adjustable Vs. Fixed
It’s also critical to consider adjustable vs. fixed.
Some crowbars come at a length that doesn’t change.
Others, often pry bars, can be adjusted based on the situation.
The adjustable size allows more or less leverage, depending on what needs to be split or broken apart.
If you have a large project that requires a sturdy form of leverage, go with a fixed crowbar. It will provide you with excellent power and a way to break items apart without worrying about the bar slipping in your hands.
If you’re working with a project where you think different lengths will be necessary, go with an adjustable pry bar option. There are many different lengths available so you should be able to find something that suits your needs.
Another critical component to consider is the material of the pry bar or crowbar.
Most often, crowbars and pry bars are made out of:
- Medium-carbon steel
Long steel products
If you notice the product is made from anything other than these materials, look for another option. There is a risk they could break and harm you and others in the process of breaking items apart.
For example, neither should be constructed with wood.
The brand is another item to consider when purchasing a crowbar or a pry bar.
Some brands are known for making better products, while others focus on affordability.
When it comes to pry bars or crowbars – you should only have to purchase one in a lifetime so finding a quality brand is essential.
Some brands I recommend include:
Last but not least is the price.
You don’t want to spend a fortune on a crowbar or a pry bar, but you don’t want to cheap out and purchase something that will break with one push.
It’s critical to set a budget and stick with it when choosing this tool so you can save money on your projects.
Is a Crowbar a Dangerous Weapon?
A crowbar is not intended to be a weapon. However, many individuals have fastened them into dangerous items over the years. If you swing a crowbar with enough force, it could be a deadly.
When using a crowbar, it’s critical to take safety precautions. Don’t use the crowbar in a place where others are present. It’s a metal bar, and there could be serious consequences if someone gets hit with the tool.
Is a Pry Bar the Same as a Wrecking Bar?
We’ve talked about the pry bar and the crowbar. However, another common term for this metal tool is a wrecking bar.
Wrecking bars are essentially the same tools as a crowbar or pry bar. They both work to tear apart and pull items in a leverage format.
There are many different names for a crowbar.
For example, wrecking bars, claw bars, and pinch bars are all hand tools that work to pry apart items.
Although there are variations of each, most of them look the same and do the same thing. If you hear a wrecking bar, it’s the same as a pry bar or a crowbar.
How Heavy is a Crowbar?
The weight of a crowbar varies depending on its size. On average, most crowbars weigh between fifteen to twenty pounds.
Generally, the longer the crowbar, the heavier it will be. If you want a lighter crowbar, aim for one that isn’t very long.
Final Thoughts on Pry Bar vs Crowbar
Overall, there isn’t a massive difference between pry bars, claw bars, wrecking bars, and other types of bars.
These hand tools are all constructed with several functions, namely to pry things apart or removing nails and other items from wood.
The main difference between the two is that a pry bar is usually flat and thin while a crowbar can be thicker and longer.
In most cases, either product will work for your needs.