The Best Nail Cutting Tools for Woodworkers

The Best Nail Cutting Tools for Woodworkers

A day is going to come where you’re going to have to cut nails. We’re not talking about fingernails, but rather the ones used to hold your work together. If you work with salvaged wood, you might also have to cut stubborn nails from your materials before using them in a project. Some nail cutting tools are better for certain applications than others – knowing when to use which tool can make your work go quickly and easily.

Reciprocating Saws

If you’re looking to cut a lot of nails without a care as to how neatly they’re cut — for example, when removing nails from salvaged woods — a reciprocating saw is the way to go. These high-powered saws can cut through nearly anything. Because of their size, they can also fit in a variety of spaces and offer you a fair amount of control when cutting.

For the best reciprocating saw, consider the original Sawzall by Milwaukee. A 12-amp corded model runs just under $100, and they’re readily available at most hardware stores.


If you’re not ready to plunk down a chunk of change on a reciprocating saw, consider the manual equivalent: the hacksaw. These fine-toothed saws are set in a wide frame to give them the best of both power and stability. If you need to cut through just a few nails, a hacksaw might be the way to go.

The DeWalt 5-in-1 12-inch Hacksaw is sturdy and well-rated among consumers. Although it’s a little more pricey than most hacksaws at around $25, it’s built to last and the front handle enables double duty use as a jab saw.

Wire Cutters and Bolt Cutters

These are probably the most well-known, go-to tools for cutting nails. Wire cutters and bolt cutters are both made to utilize your arm strength to snip through metal. Bolt cutters amplify the strength of your grip, allowing you to cut through heavier nails and bolts, while wire cutters make easy work of thinner nails and tacks.

The H.K. Porter 8 Inch Wire Cutters are an economical, well-rated choice at just under $10. They’re rated to handle medium and hard steel up to 4 mm (5/32 inch). The 14 Inch Bolt Cutters by H.K. Porter carry a similar level of customer satisfaction and can cut through just about any nail or bolt they’re faced with and come at a modest price of just under $17.

End Nippers

If you need a very precise, close cut for your nails — for finishing or visible edges — end or edge nippers are the tool you’ll need. These cutting tools use a knife-and-anvil design for a strong, precise cut that enables you to get as close to your project as possible.

Consider the 7 inch End Nippers by Husky, which carry a lifetime warranty and heat treated edges to ensure longevity. At just over $10, the Husky End Nippers make a valuable addition to any woodworker’s toolbox.

Rotary Tools

While rotary tools like the Dremel aren’t exactly cutting tools per-se, they get the job done and make quick work of nails when paired with a diamond cutting wheel. Rotary tools are a bit of an investment, but with so many uses in the woodworking shop, they can be a decent tool to reach for if you need to grind down nail edges for a precise finish or quickly cut through nails and bolts for removal.

The  Dremel 4000 series high performance rotary tool runs about $60 for the tool itself, while a diamond cutting blade compatible with the Dremel costs just over $17 from big box retailers.

Nail Cutting Tools for Woodworkers

There are a variety of nail cutting tools available to woodworkers. Sometimes the choice is easy: if you already have a reciprocating saw or rotary tool on hand, they can make quick work of nails and bolts. If you need a flush edge, a pair of end nippers is an invaluable investment in a tool you’ll use over and over again.  Hacksaws, bolt cutters or wire cutters can also work on nails and bolts, rounding out the options easily found for cutting hardware.

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