Have you ever encountered a previous owner's handiwork that you just wanted
to strangle them over? I'm in the process of removing the 1/2" plywood over
2x4 flooring in the basement - in order to give me headroom and I've
honestly never had this much trouble.
I'm going at this stuff with a 36" wrecking bar, sawsall, hammer, the only
thing I haven't used is a stick of dynamite. The previous owner used a 10
penny nail every 4 inches into 2x4's 1 foot apart under the plywood. He
must have spend a few thousand on materials - but it sure is the most stable
and durable floor I've ever walked on. Too bad I bonk my head on the
The biggest problem that I've encountered so far is that the plywood comes
apart when pulled up, rather than pulling the nails up with it. So I'm
basically having to remove the plywood 4" square at a time. I was hoping to
re-use the materials for a workbench - but unless the going gets better the
stuff will be shredded beyond usefulness.
I may not be understanding the situation but.......can you cats paw the
nails out? & thus make the removal easier & potentially reuse the ply?
I used to have to demo plywood (3/8", 7/16 OSB, 15/32" STR I, 1/2")
shearwalls after testing them.....we used to cats paw out the nails
using a HEAVY plastic headed hammer. The plywood had big gouges every
4 or 6" but it was usable for other apps.
Maybe I don't understand the term "cat paw". I've tried getting under it
with the claw of my hammer but no luck. The plywood is swollen a bit from
moisure build-up, and whoever installed the floor did a damn good job, nails
are all very tight, very straight, and very in there.
No, 'Wonder bars', great as the are, are something different. A Cats Paw is
a cross between a a chisel and a small prybar. It has a small almost
spherical cupped end on it, very sharp, with a narrow tapered groove,
designed for extracting nails and not much else. You place the 'paw' end so
the groove will catch the nail, and wack the backside of it with a hammer,
to drive t under the head of the nail you want to remove. For little nails,
you can just rock the bar back. For bit nails, you sometimes have to get
another 'bite' further down the nail, or turn the hammer sideways inder the
paw to provide a raised fulcrum. An indispensible tool for repair work and
demolition. Any good tool store should have them.
But as to OP's problem- Life is too short to worry about salvaging 100 bucks
worth of plywood. Use a circular saw to cut through the ply parallel to each
sleeper, and rock the long strips back and forth to loosen them up. Unless
he also glued it together with construction adhesive, you should be able to
pull the 2x4 and plywood strips up 4 feet at a time.
But there are other types.
Go to www.leevalley.com and do a search for "cats paw". You'll
see two types of cats paw, and several other types of demolition
But my dad has one of the old slide-hammer style. Those are great.
Except if you get your finger in the way of the slide-hammer.
Chris Lewis, Una confibula non set est
It\'s not just anyone who gets a Starship Cruiser class named after them.
A cat's paw is a carpenter's term for a tool that is made for
digging out nails. They work well. Once you break the head off
the nail, they don't help. They gouge out a fair little chunk of
wood to get up under the nail. Here is a picture of one:
< http://cvfsupplyco-store.stores.yahoo.net/12catpawnail.html ?
Keep the whole world singing . . . .
DanG (remove the sevens)
Sorry about that......I was introduced tothe cats paw by a contractor /
framer turned CE student this was a number of years ago. He had a
Japanese style one that worked much better than the typical US
here's a link to the type we used, I still use this type to this day.
The COP does damage th wood a lot but the Japanese style one less so
when you use a cats paw do not hit it with a milled face
hammer.......you'll just mess up both tools. Place the short end point
about 1/2" from the nail head, use the long end as a handle, hold the
long handle closer the the plywood than 45 deg.....more like 30 deg.
Hit that puppy with a sharp, heavy blow..enough the get the points & V
groove under the nail head. Rock the cats paw back to slightly pull
the nail. Typically we "started" all the nails with the CP & finished
them with a long crow bar.
That should do the trick.....the plywood will be a gouged up mess but
it will be usable.
Ah, thanks. I know what you're talking about now.
As AEM says, that isn't gonna happen. I have the sawsall, so at this point
I think that's what I'm gonna do, it will just take time to do it.
Maybe if I can get a section of the flooring removed, I can get sufficient
room to really use the wrecking bar, right now its tough because there's
really no place for the bar to grip.
I just can't stand dismantling overdone work like this, and its one of the
other reasons why I prefer screws to nails.
There is one specific tool that is tailor-made for your situation.
http://www.coastaltool.com/hand_tools/crescent/nail_puller.htm It's a
cross between a slaphammer and a catspaw. The jaws are opened, placed
on either side of the nailhead about to die, slide the weighted tail
piece up the shaft/handle and then slap it down. That drives the jaws
into the wood and closes them around the nailhead. Pull back on the
handle to lock the jaws and lever the nail out. If it's a recalcitrant
bastid, slide the handle out to gain more leverage. The tool works
like a champ, can pull big ass nails that are really stuck in there,
the pincer jaws squezze tighter as you exert more pressure back on the
lever, and best of all, it doesn't damage the wood as much as other
pullers. The tool is a century old design and is not well known
nowadays. You can find them on eBay for cheap as they're not rare.
Search for nail puller.
You can pick them up at garage sale's for a few bucks. They make great
gifts. I have a couple and have given a couple or three as gifts. Any
tool that is strange looking, no one else has one, and that works so
well is an automatic new favorite.
IMO the cats paw will be faster & less messy. The trick to using it
with speed is to set the cats paw with asingle hammer blow & then rock
the cats paw to get the nail head high enough for a large crow bar.
The single blow is the key....you have to hit the s...t out of it to
get a good enough purchse of the nai head. Two guys to slavage the
sheets & framing timber of a 8 x 8 shall faster with the cats paw &
crow bar faster than using a skilsaw. Of course if you're just
trashing all the material the saw will be quciker,
I would rent a larger portable circular saw (10-12") with a carbide
toothed blade. Set the height to just about cut all the way through or just
shy by about 1/32".
As long as you are POSITIVE there are no power lines or conduit run
underneath, just cut out 4' x 8' sections ( or a little smaller if your
working solo) and lift them out with a crowbar.
Also, find a garden hoe. Cut the handle off at the socket. Use a small
angle grinder to put a sharp edge on the blade and use it like a wood
chisel, along with a baby sledge hammer, to cut through the uncut bottom of
the 2 x 4's.
You'll be an old pro just about the time your finished. :o)
When I was a teenager we had some rot under part of our basement
floor. The word "part" is the key here. My Dad had to take up the
whole floor, including the undamaged majority. The construction? 2x4s,
some sort of wood subfloor, tongue and groove oak, topped with 3/4"
ply and vinyl tile. He had nailed the 3/4" ply on about 6" centers.
That adds up to well over 2" of thickness. I'm pretty sure that
bullets wouldn't have penetrated it. The rotted part came out easily
enough. The rest wore out a few dozen sawzall blades, back when
sawzalls were pretty new. I seem to remember that what we did was cut
maybe 3' x 3' squares all the way through, including through the 2x4s,
then lift each piece out.
I had a similar situation, and ultimately ended up getting pieces out
by prying along a straight line, moving back a set of nails, and prying
out another straight line, etc. I kept on it until I had enough for
leverage. By this point, I also was irritated enough that the
adrenaline kicked in and helped the project along...the Irish temper
worked in my favor. In that, case, though, the main problem was
multiple layers of flooring over plywood that had some moisture damage
Another thought, though, is to go from below. When I was doing
concrete work, if we were unable to get a truck to the right spots to
pour a basement floor, we would sometimes have to pull the subfloor up.
(Bear in mind, this was new construction, with a clear enough view of
where we were in relation to the floor above and what was
around-electrical, plumbing and such). What we woud do is take a 2x4,
find the edge of the plywood, and start banging. Once we pulled
(actually pushed would be more accurate) enough nails to have leverage,
we would go to the floor above and pull back the plywood. Sometimes it
would require a few whacks as it was being pried up. Not easy, but
effective in removing the plywood in sheets. That was important,
because we would have to put them back down after the pour.
Could you use a circular saw to cut away the plywood between the joists,
then use a reciprocating saw to cut the nails (and maybe construction
adhesive) between the plywood and the top of the joists?
Of course, if your pulling this floor up to gain headroom, are the 2x4's
coming up too? If so, just cut the plywood between joists, and take the
plywood and 2x4's out in big chunks. You could try seperating the plywood
from the joists once the whole works is out and accessable.
Either way, it doesn't sound like you'll be able to reuse much of the
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