We talk a lot about construction and making things here, but another part of construction and often something you have to do before starting construction is demolition. Demolition sounds fun and it sounds easy, and truly destroying things is easy, but demolition is more than just blowing stuff up and knocking stuff in with hammers. A lot of times you have to be very targeted and strategic with what you take down so that you don’t damage the surrounding area. I had a demolition/construction project in my old house to swap the rooms a water heater and shower were in. They had to knock down the water heater closet in the bathroom and knock down the wall of the shower in the laundry room. They had to be very careful and they were, they destroyed only the walls needed and not much else, then they rebuilt everything. All that- said, demolition is something you can do yourself if you’re a DIYer, or if you’re a general contractor, so what do you need to do demo work on your own?
The tools you need for demolition are not huge investments, but they are somewhat specialized so there are a couple that you should bother getting. The first set gear is of course your PPE, personal protective equipment. Most of this is stuff you should have and use anyways, but the respirator and safety glasses are especially important. As far as other gear, you’re going to need something to hit with, pry with and when the big breaking is done, you’ll need to do some removal of small stuff too. Big and small, we’ve got most of the tools you’ll need.
The most obvious tool for demolition is of course the sledgehammer. Sledgehammers come in all kinds of shapes and sizes, but they’re one of the best ways to knock things loose. If you disregard safety (not recommended), you can use a sledgehammer to demolish a grain silo, or if you want to use a sledge safely (recommended) and properly, you use it in a targeted manner to say, break down a wall. You can see that each wall will break down differently, but the sledgehammer is the blunt instrument you need to start breaking it down. The key is to make sure to use it appropriately and not near anything you don’t want broken.
As handy as a sledgehammer is for demolition work and releasing frustrations, sometimes you need something a little bit more strategic. That’s where your crowbar comes in. Crowbars are known by many names: wrecking bar, iron crow, and pry bar are just a few, but they all do pretty much the same job. One end has a curved, “swan neck” for pulling nails. The straighter end results in a chisel tip that has a slight curve meant for leverage in prying things open or apart. The crowbar, or a variation of it, can also be used to pry up tiles from the floor. Just make sure they aren’t asbestos. This video kind of demonstrates the basic use of different types of crowbar. (Side note, if you’re a blacksmith, you can make one.) If quarters are tight and you need to pull nails, then the regular old claw hammer or nail pulling pliers will do nicely.
Last but not least, as far as hand tools are concerned, wire cutters and screwdrivers sometimes help too. The wire cutters are good if there’s wire inside the wall and you can’t pull it out, it’s easier just to cut it and take it away. Just use common sense and make sure it isn’t live and if it’s the other kind of wire make sure you’re cutting with the right gauge wire cutters for the best results. For the screwdrivers, you want the ones with the solid metal cap so you can use a hammer to drive it in and get an opening started. This would be for situations where a crowbar is too big or you need to get a hole started to put the crowbar into.
Most of the tools needed here are affordable and tools that are useful in many situations so getting them will definitely be an investment. With only a couple of extra tools you can add demolition onto your list of construction skills which will get you more work as a contractor or save you tons of money on a DIY project. Adding just a sledge hammer and a crowbar will get you most of the way there, because everything else is mostly basic hand tools. If you’re just building a tool box, you can plan ahead some and just get these few basic tools so you’re ready for demolition right away.