New Tools for the Tear-Down
It’s generally easier and more exhilarating to tear something apart than to build it up. Demolition is often the first step of a remodeling project, the phase when you’re bringing the worksite back to a blank canvas. With a little elbow grease, a big sledge hammer and a crow bar, you can really do some damage. Of course, there are some power tools and purpose-built implements that help bridge the gap between hard work and smart work. Here’s a look at some new demo tools for your next foray into destruction.
Ripping with Manpower
For a demolition job, the first category to consider is manual hand tools. Although a sledge hammer can dismantle a brick wall, even a heavy framing hammer can make some serious holes in masonry or wood, and do so with a more measured and targeted strike. Both heavy sledges and large framers can be used as basic demolition tools, as well as to drive ripping bars.
Pry bars, crow bars, rippers, etc. provide the necessary leverage to pull nails and rip up siding, decking, flooring or virtually any other material you need to pry away from a structure. When selecting a demo bar, pay attention to the bar’s length (thus leverage), weight and quality of construction. The bigger the bar, the more destructive power it will brandish, but the big ones are usually heavier and can fatigue the user more quickly.
For example, we recently put to use a 5-foot breaker bar to demolish the rock bed beneath the topsoil in a co-worker’s yard. We were building a fence, and the rock was so solid that it stalled the rented gas-powered auger we were using to dig the post holes. The large, pointed bar worked well at splitting the rock, but pistoning the heavy iron rod up and down tired us quickly. If you’ve got lot rock-crushing in your future, then consider forgoing the bar for a powered breaker hammer that you can find at most rental yards. (More on that later).
As far as recommended demolition bars, the EHT staff recently used the Gutster demolition bar on a deck-board replacement job and loved it. The hollow handle cuts down on the weight of the 48-inch bar while retaining excellent balance and lifting power. The angled head with chiseled points can get into small crevices, and the head features prongs spaced to straddle 2-by beams and joists. We used the Gutster Series 2 but recently discovered the manufacturer offers a newly upgraded model, available in two different lengths and with an even slimmer handle.
Another keeper comes from Mayhew Tools. The heavy-duty Dominator Ripping Chisel is constructed of heavy-duty 3/4-inch steel. Great for removing floor tile, wall paneling or plywood, or for use on any overhead demolition where you need a medium-sized wrecker for easy maneuverability, but one that can really handle tough ripping action. The business end features a two-prong chisel with a couple of nail pullers, and the shaft goes all the way through the handle to the end cap. The patented two-composite handle really shines on this tool, because demo bars aren’t usually this comfortable to hold. I also like that the end of the handle is capped, which let’s you strike the bar with a hammer without damaging the handle.