Jointers are stationary woodworking power tools that make boards flat, square and true. It takes a fair amount of skill to get good results with a jointer, but the benefits are worth it. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)

Jointers are stationary woodworking power tools that make boards flat, square and true. It takes a fair amount of skill to get good results with a jointer, but the benefits are worth it. (Photo by Steve Maxwell)

MAXWELL: Best way to replace deck boards

Q: Can you suggest a better way of removing old boards from my deck? I want to pull off the old wood and replace it with composite lumber, but a crowbar and sledge hammer are so slow.

Most of the boards are still good, but I’m tired of finishing and refinishing them.

A: There are two options that have worked well for me. My favourite is to use a reciprocating saw with a hacksaw blade to cut nails and screws between boards, then simply lift the wood off.

Sometimes it’s helpful to hammer the thin end of a pry bar into the gap between deck boards and joists to make a bit of room for the saw blade. This approach is particularly good since it preserves old deck boards in good shape for other uses.

If any stubs of nails or screws remains sticking up, just pound them down flush with the surrounding wood using a hammer.

Another approach is to use some kind of specialized deck-wrecking pry bar.

The one I have has two prying fingers. The space between these fingers rolls and levers on the top of the joists, with the fingers pushing a deck board upwards.

This works well, but damages the boards more than the recip saw method.