Consider the air-powered nail retractor. The idea comes from Jake Kittell, owner of Happiness LLC, Morrisville, Vt., a small engineering firm that manufactures hand tools and does contract precision machine design. As envisioned, users will put the device up against a nail embedded in a board, line it up in the right spot over the nail head, pull the trigger, and out pops the nail, almost instantly.

The retractor works by using compressed air to drive a precise pair of sharp jaws into the board, gripping the shank of the nail securely just below the head, says Kittell. “The compressed air is then used to draw the nail straight out. The process happens in about 1 second, with only small indents in the board where the jaws enter. The tool works something like a nail gun.”

“At home, we have an old barn that I wanted to move onto a new foundation,” says Kittell. “I looked for a tool that would let me easily and quickly pull out the nails to take the building apart to move it. Even after hours of searching, I couldn’t find anything suitable. So I invented and designed the retractor over this past winter and spring.”

The tool currently exists as a 3D SolidWorks model, but it is headed to the local machine shop to have a prototype built, says Kittell. “The retractor will be made primarily of tool steel for working components and cast aluminum or plastic for the housing parts.”

According to Kittell, the speed of the tool and the minimal damage it inflicts to building material will allow the reasonable and quick deconstruction of entire buildings.

The working name of the tool is the Anti-Nail Gun. Other possibilities include the Retractor and Shank Yanker. Kittell says he is looking for suggestions. Anyone with an inspired name is encouraged to submit it on http://happinesstech.biz/NailPuller.html. “Should we use the name, the entrant will get one of the first production units free as a prize,” he says.

Kittell hopes to have first commercial tools ready for sale by next spring. He is currently seeking commercial or investment partners.

Happiness Tech LLC, www.happinesstech.biz

© 2010 Penton Media, Inc.