Do you find yourself needing to separate things? What about levelling, lifting and pulling nails? If the answer is yes, then you are in need of a lever.
One of the first tools developed by mankind, the lever bar has established itself as a versatile and necessary tool. Over time, many variations of the toggle bar have developed; there are now a lot of styles and options on the market.
How do I select the correct lever bar for the task at hand? Let’s start by defining what a lever is.
What is a lever?
A lever bar is a tool typically made of forged alloy steel that can have a flat end, claw, or pointed end.
The tool is quite versatile because the flattened end allows it to be used as a lever, the claw makes leverage easier, the pointed end is ideal for ‘mating holes’, and an end with a small crack is used for removing nails.
Lever bars can be heat treated and / or tempered before being coated to resist oxidation.
It is important to note that the length of the lever bar is important. The golden rule is that the heavier the object to be lifted, the longer the bar.
The lever bar has also been referred to by many different names, so don’t be confused if someone calls the tool a ‘jimmy’, lever, demolition bar, gooseneck, ‘cat paw’, pinch bar – or as Shakespeare referred to it, an Iron Crow.
Toggle bars are commonly made of carbon or alloy steel, depending on the style and manufacturer.
There are a variety of manufacturing methods used to produce a lever bar, including: swagging, hot stamping and machining. They then go through the finishing steps, which can include stamping, polishing, heat treatment, shot blasting, hand sharpening and plating or painting. Lever bars that are heat treated are very strong and flexible to avoid breaking while in use.
While looking for your next lever, consider looking for a tool that is produced using the heat treatment process. The finish is also important to consider, as it acts as a protective layer and increases the durability of the tool.
Some manufacturers pride themselves on polishing and sharpening lever bars by hand for a high quality finish; this is a positive that you may want to keep an eye out for. The finish commonly involves a nickel strike finish or enamel paint and lacquer tool-both can be very durable and add to the tool high quality.
Parts of a lever
There are many variations in the design, below are the various features of a lever bar and some tips on the benefits of different styles.
Shaft: comes in a variety of shapes and designs, each with its own benefits. A rounded shaft makes it easy to hold, while a flat shaft is better for narrower spaces. The contour shaft curves backwards to increase leverage; the hexagonal shaft has six sides for better grip and is ideal for the lever. Finally, an I-beam axis is lighter but very strong
Claw: like the shaft, the design of the claw may vary depending on the type of Lever and its functionality. A straight claw is a common feature for most bars, it is forged in line with the shaft. Bent claw increases leverage and decreases damage to workpiece. The beveled claw makes it easier to get under and between items. The flat claw increases leverage as it can be inserted deeper into tight spaces. The wide claw offers a larger surface for snooping.
The nail slot is a feature that makes removing a nail easier. An adjustable claw is very versatile as the angle of the Claw can be adjusted and locked in place.
Tip: a lever may have a Second Claw or it may have a pointed tip. The pointed tip is ideal for locating and aligning ‘mating holes’.
Heel: can be flat or rounded. A flat heal can be used as an impact surface; a rounded heal increases leverage as it helps the claw rock back and forth
Handle: a lever Bar can have a handle on one end for a more comfortable grip.
Popular types of Lever bars
Below are the most popular types of Lever bars. Consider your needs and uses for the lever bar when selecting the right one for you.
Rolling head lever bar: features standard round shaft, pointed tip and bent claw. Applications include simple lever applications, lifting and harnessing, locating and aligning.
Wonder Bar (nail puller): features a flat shaft, a right angle claw, and a compensated claw. The wonder bar is used when precision and control is needed for pulling, lifting, scraping, prying and nail levers. Ideal for a variety of home maintenance, construction and demolition tasks.
Pinch bar: features a round or hexagonal shaft, a chisel end, and a pointed tip end. This is the longest and second heaviest lever bar ever made. Pinch bar can be used to align mating holes, such as bolt holes, by prying to align them. The secondary purpose would be to lever and lift objects.
Wrecking Bar: features a HEX shank, flat end claw and can also incorporate a gooseneck claw. This lever bar design is used in heavy duty lever applications and demolition work.
Railroad Track Pry Bar: features a hexagonal shaft, a 45 degree claw end, and a pointed tip. As the name suggests, this lever bar is ideal for railway maintenance.
Adjustable lever bar: features an adjustable claw and can include an extendable shaft. A lever bar with an extendable shaft is the heaviest lever bar you can buy. Applications include more complex curiosities (i.e. in difficult, confined spaces or tighter objects), and levers and lifting of larger objects, such as doors and floorboards.
Selecting a lever – three things to consider
When selecting a lever bar, consider the following points.
Budget. While the adjustable lever bar is ideal in tight spaces, the bar tends to be the most expensive and heaviest option. Its pivot joint can also be a weak point when used to leverage heavy objects. A fixed lever is a cheaper option and the lighter weight makes it easier to carry with you.
Quality. Some manufacturers will sacrifice quality to offer the tool at a cheaper price. Beware of a price that seems too good to be true-the last thing you want to happen is for the bar to bend or break just when you need it. Gray Tools Canada is proud to manufacture high quality Canadian lever bars. The bars are made of the finest quality alloy steel, are heat treated to increase hardness, nickel plated to increase durability and protect against corrosion, and have the benefit of being polished by hand.
Your Needs. There are many toggle bar options on the market for you to consider, first reduce the features that meet your needs. Needs first, price second.
How to properly operate a lever
Before using a lever, it is first important to understand the correct way to use the tool to ensure your own physical safety.
To begin, check your tool and make sure the tool is not damaged or bent, using a damaged tool could increase the risk of breaking it and injuring yourself.
Next, consider your environment and check for factors that may create risk for you or others, for example, physical hazards that could cause you to slip.
Grip on the lever bar is important, therefore wearing gloves that are dry and have grip material on the palms would be helpful.
Other safety practices include wearing eye protection and a helmet, especially important while pulling away objects or pulling nails in case an object breaks and flies towards you.
Never place an object under the lever bar axis to generate additional leverage. By doing this, a pressure foothold is created that puts pressure on the lever bar shaft, resulting in a very unsafe user environment.
Finally, your posture while using the tool is critical to your physical well-being, especially if you are lifting heavier objects. Make sure your position is balanced: stand in front of the bar with your legs shoulder-width apart and slightly bent, do not place your body directly on the bar and grasp the lever bar firmly with both hands.
If you have to bend down to use the lever, for example, while holding a heavy object, be sure to bend your knees while keeping your back straight to avoid injuring your back and hamstrings. If the item is too heavy or too large, be sure to ask for help before using the lever alone.
Maintenance and care of the lever bar
Maintenance and care is important to remember to increase the longevity of the tool. Here are some tips to get the most out of your lever bar.
File the claws regularly to keep them sharp and ready to use, but be sure not to remove too much of the protective finish.
Using non-corrosive oil on the rod will protect the rod from the elements. It is good to use the oil after presentation or when you notice that the bar has become soiled.
Do not strain the shaft of the bar by applying excessive force. Remember the golden rule, the heavier the object to be lifted, the longer the bar should be.
Dry the bars after wetting them and store them in a dry space to protect them from corrosion.
Remember, a good quality lever bar will bend slowly when stressed beyond its design ability. A shoddy bar will break unexpectedly creating a potentially dangerous situation.
No one wants to spend so much time and energy moving logs or snooping around heavy objects. For that reason, you will need to find a reliable tool that can withstand the pressure and tests of time. A burke bar offers the functionality that is difficult to obtain from shorter lever bars and levers. However, I personally ran into real dilemmas when buying my first burke bar.
You must admit that there is very little information available about the efficiency of these tools. Each manufacturer is creating new tools in an environment where performance standards and testing mechanisms are lacking. So, tired of looking around, I approached Amazon and bought a random Burke bar, a decision I regretted not long after the item was delivered.
After several cases of trial and error, I now have a keen eye to sift through the generic and find something convincing, safe and efficient. So, if you’re looking to buy a burke-bar, there’s a lot to consider before you spend your money, and as they say, good things come to those who wait. Take the time to evaluate all aspects of the device.
Adjustable burke bars are more efficient
Lately, burke adjustable bars have been coming to the market. These large lever bars can operate in adjustable lengths. Such burke bars are the most ideal of you looking for more power because you can shorten or lengthen the shaft. The only downside is that these models tend to be heavier and on the upper end of the spectrum when it comes to price.
Fixed bars are ideal if you are looking for affordability and weightlessness
Lighter burkes can also be advantageous, especially when it’s not heavy loads. The old fixed models tend to be lighter than the adjustable ones. They are also more affordable. Due to its lightweight nature, it can work fixed burke bars all day with little fatigue.
Look for high quality
I had the misfortune of having a Burke-bar buckle under the pressure of a huge oak trunk I was snooping around. At a time when you need these tools to work more efficiently, it would be a shame if they bend, deform or break in two. It is also a major security issue. Generally, the burke bar must be made of a hollow 1095 or strongly alloyed steel. A powder coating finish also helps strengthen the bar and minimize wear.
Focus on your specific needs
The same Burke bar that does wonders for a carpenter could be problematic for a mechanic. Instead of basing your purchase decision only on second-person reviews, research to find out if the device’s features are relevant to its intended use.
Choose an ergonomic handle
As mentioned above, steel or high carbon alloy is ideal for strength and longevity. An ergonomic design on the handle is also necessary for comfort and efficiency. Find a Burke bar with rubber brackets on the handle. A longer shaft is also ideal for increased strength.
Reasons why DIY enthusiasts need Lever bars
1. To Create A Cleaner Paint Job
Man is a mistake, and it cannot be ruled out that they may make mistakes while painting.
Most painters have to trim their work before painting or plugging built-in cabinets. Touching isn’t always foolproof, and in most cases, some paint can slurp and ruin all the work.
Most experienced painters have learned to use lever bars to avoid clutter by pressing the flat end of the bar onto the tape; then, they pull the bar together with the tape. The pressure applied ensures that the tape is secured, and one ends up with a perfect paint job.
2. Heavy Hanging Doors
It is always tedious to lift a door and align it with its hinges while adjusting it to the correct height.
Most lever bars help carpenters with heavy lifting, and all one has to do is slide the flat end of the lever bar under the door, then lift it until it reaches the correct position.
3. When adjusting or removing carpets
Most carpets have tack strips that often end up scratching their hands when a new carpet is removed or installed.
Lever bars come in handy when installing or removing worn carpets. A DIYer inserts the flat surface of the lever bar under the strip, then using a mallet, they can lightly touch the lever bar.
Once the Strip is out, the DIYer can use the nail pulling clips to remove the nails left in the subsoil.
4. When removing the tiled floor
Shorter lever bars are ideal for removing ceramic tiles or floor when one intends to do some small home repairs. When one removes the ceramic tiles, it would be in their best interest to grind or CHIP through the grout and then wedge the lever bar under the tile.
5. When peeling paint
Scraping paint can be tedious work, but this should be the case when one has a lever bar. One just needs to hold the lever bar at a 40 degree angle from the surface, then scrape the paint away from the wood grain to avoid slotting the surface.
6. Trim removal
It would be in your best interest to first remove the base trim for those planning to renovate the old floors. Such a movement prevents the renovator from damaging the molding, and one ends up with perfect results.