Tools for Repairing a Wood Deck

This is Part 2 of 9 in our Series on Restoring Wood Decks and Building New Wood Decks. Navigate to the first article: Restoring a Wood Deck

Deck Deconstruct and Reconstruct: A Tool Primerdeck repair tools

  • Cat's Paw. A tool designed for pulling nails, the cat's paw is especially good when you have to dig into the wood to grab the nail head. This tool mars the wood beyond re-use around the nails, so don't use it where you want to save the wood.
  • Chainsaw Massacre. It's hard to imagine a better tool for deck deconstruction than a chainsaw, the Godzilla of deck decimation. Tearing down a deck requires very little finesse, and chainsaws are fast. Of course, that measure of destructive power could mean mayhem. Be especially careful, lest a leg or foot get in the way of the spinning chain. Other than that, the biggest drawback is you'll be pelted with saw chips, so be sure you wear protective goggles. Watch out for nails, metal braces and connectors: besides the danger of kickback, you will quickly ruin your chain if you hit them--it takes less than a second of contact to dull the chain or chip its teeth.
  • Reciprocating Saw. This heavy duty saw--sometimes called a sawzall--is excellent for deconstruction. A sawzall will give you a little more finesse, if the aggressiveness of a chainsaw is too hazardous for the cutting situation. You can also use a sawzall with a metal-cutting blade, if your chainsaw is in danger of hitting metal.
  • Impact hammer. If you are an avid do-it-yourselfer, you probably have an air compressor and an assortment of nail guns. But if you don't have an impact hammer, get one. They're cheap--around $60 range--and they prevent sore joints and mashed fingers caused by hammering. These hammers don't shoot nails; they have a vibrating tip that sits against the nail head and drives the nail in. They are great for mounting joist holders and other brackets, or for driving the larger galvanized nails used in framing the deck. They can drive a 16d nail in about a second. But do not use them for setting nails in your deck board--they will mar the wood.
  • Hand hammers. If you are nailing your boards, use a finishing hammer, not a heavy framing hammer with a dimpled head. The dimples will not disappear from your wood when you accidentally drive the nail too deep. But for driving galvanized box nails for framing, definitely use the heavy-duty framing hammer.

Aside from the above-mentioned items, you will need these common tools:

  • level (4- or 6-footer)
  • measuring tape
  • pry bar
  • circular saw
  • chop saw (a power miter saw for accurate end cuts)
  • plumb line
  • chalk line
  • drill
  • table saw (optional, but might come in handy)

With the proper tools, you're armed and able to attack your old house deck project. The next article in this series will instruct you how to make minor repairs to boards.

Next article: Replacing Deck Boards. We show you how to do replace a rotted deck board.


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