Best $5 Tool Purchase Ever?


DeWalt fencing pliers and about one-quarter of the staples I used them to pull.

Last week, following my social media kvetching about pulling staples from the tile underlayment in the 1′ x 3′ area around the back door, several folks suggested I buy some fencing pliers.

Now I’m not usually one to go for cheap tools, but because I didn’t know if they would work (and I hope to never have to again use them), I picked up a cheap pair from Home Depot – only $5.

Those suckers are awesome. I had about 10 staples pulled in the time it had taken me to pull one without them. (Plus I’m set if I ever decide to build a barbed-wire fence).

Now I hadn’t planned on removing any more tile until I had my base cabinets built – but I had a rage-induced energy overload (which is all I’ll say on that front, so please don’t ask); I decided it was best put to use by breaking things. So I did.

And with most of the tile out, well, why not find out what horrors awaited under the hardboard? (And I still had plenty of energy to burn.)


No really – that’s wood!

Unfortunately, I can’t yet tell just how horrid the horrors are; there’s too much residue from the 30-year old (or more) rosin paper (which may actually be tar paper – rat bastards) sticking to the wood. I took a few desultory swipes at it with an old putty knife, but some chunks of wood came up with a few of my exploratory passes (flat-sawn lumber…not the best choice for flooring).

I think I’ll have to leave the gunk removal to #20-grit sander pads, just as I did in the living room and dining room. (I’m writing a check for that bit, by the by – and happily paying extra for  “dustless sanding.”)

The wood matches what’s in my living room – 3-1/4″ wide boards and 4-1/4″-wide boards in no discernible pattern, and I expect I’ll be searching for a few random 100-year-old (or older) heart-pine boards in those widths (if possible) to tooth in any particularly unsound areas. But if said areas are small enough, I’m toying with the idea of nailing in a patch of copper, as I’ve seen done in many old bars in England. (Yes, some of my misspent youth was passed in English bars – where, apparently, I got a good look at the floors. And because I remember this, let’s just assume it wasn’t a close-up view.)


Hall meets kitchen. A problem was painfully obvious before hardboard removal. I’m thinking wide threshold.

There are two areas that are quite bad – one at the threshold into a small hallway that leads to the living room, off which the small half-bath is located. The other is right next to it, on the backside of the bathroom wall. I suspect last autumn’s guest-induced water damage in said bathroom didn’t help matters (there was standing water on the floor that seeped through to the kitchen and down to basement). But regardless of how or when the damage occurred, I have to fix it. The good thing is, the damage doesn’t extend too far at the doorway, so I think I can safely get around the problem by covering it with a wide threshold.

The other bad spot is beneath where the refrigerator will go, and into the base cabinet area. So I’ll have some work to do there. I’m thinking that if it all has to come out in that 2′ x 5′ area, and I can’t find enough period lumber for patching, maybe I can make some kind of floor inlay in a geometric pattern…something that looks like it belongs, in case a future owner decides to relocate the fridge. Because it will be covered, I could probably get away with slapping down some 3/4″ ply. But I just can’t bring myself to do that. (And I don’t want to be the cause of someone complaining about a former owner’s shoddy rehab job; that would be incredibly hypocritical.)

A stunning look, no?

A stunning look, no?

So with the bulk of my work on the floor removal out of the way (the rest simply has to wait…because it’s under cabinets and appliances that I’m not quite ready to live without), I finally ordered the plywood for the cabinets: 11 sheets of 3/4″ and three sheets of 1/4″ for the cabinets backs. And there’s the hardwood-lumber buy for the face frames and doors and drawers to come, plus hardware.

I should stock up now on Ramen noodles. You can make those in a microwave, I think?

About fitz

Woodworker, writer, editor, teacher, ailurophile, Shakespearean. Will write for air-dried walnut.
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11 Responses to Best $5 Tool Purchase Ever?

  1. m46opie says:

    Press on!
    Which is the short version of:

    “Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan Press On! has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”
    Calvin Coolidge

    Enjoying the journey with you,
    Mark Singleton
    Santa Maria, Ca

  2. Megan, You’re moving right along. And regardless of your degrees, I
    m quite sure you mastered in profanity whilst learning about the pub floors of the UK. Maybre reflecting some of Chaucer? So, give the work a rant in your most professional style and Glen and Robert will be proud of you.

  3. John Horst says:

    Ramen noodles are really not good for you. You can prepare some delicious meal in a crock pot, though. There are many good recipes out there, and some even suggest an appropriate wine. Or a good bourbon after the meal. I am really enjoying you allowing your fans to follow you.

    • fitz says:

      That was a bit tongue in cheek; they are simply universally recognized as cheap. I eat Ramen noodles maybe once a year. Ditto with McD’s. On rare occasions, I like to remind myself why I eat those only on rare occasions. I imagine that for the week or two I’m without a refrigerator or stove, I’ll call in all my markers on the street and show up for dinner at various neighbors’ houses (oh damn – now they know to take back their keys…)

  4. Gene ORourke says:

    Once upon a time, a friend and I needed to patch/replace the barbed-wire fence around his just-purchased 100-acre farm. The previous owner handed him a fencing tool without telling us what it was. After the first two days, we just called it “the miracle tool.” Only later did we discover that it was actually designed for the purpose!

  5. Good job! I love rage-induced energy overloads. I get so much done. I love hearing about your progress too.

  6. Terry says:

    I love your inlay idea for the hallway, if you can’t hide it, accentuate it.

  7. bsrlee says:

    The side wire shears are a marvel (OK, just don’t get any hand parts too near them DAMHIK) and can trim cut nails to length with contempt. Way better than the usual wire cutters you see in most hardware stores.

  8. Pete says:

    Do you have any closets to strip the same flooring out of?

  9. Pingback: A Rough but Productive Weekend | Rude Mechanicals Press

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