Artillery Pry Bar System - Review
We first met Joe Skach a couple years ago at a JLC Trade Show. Back then, he was displaying his Artillery Pry Bar System with such enthusiasm and glee that it was hard not to like the guy and be curious about the tool. At the time, the Joe was still working out the details for manufacturing and distributing the tool, so he didn't have any for sale. Now, well over a year later, he's finally gotten all the kinks worked out and the tool is available. We got the opportunity to try one out and for the past month we have abused the hell out of the thing. We have to say that not only is it by far the finest demolition tool we've ever used, it very well may be the coolest thing we have ever put our hands on.
The Artillery Pry Bar System is a multi-part demolition tool that can be pieced together depending on your needs. The Contractor Set (the one we tested) comes with seven different heads, two sizes of fulcrums, fulcrum extensions, and three different sizes of handles. Playing the mix and match game, there are limitless possibilities for combinations, and all of them are fired up for destruction.
Handles can be put together in lengths of either 12", 15", 25", 27", and 37". Blades range from an eight inch one with seven nail pullers (perfect for flooring) to one as narrow as 3/4" capable of dealing with light trim and fitting in tight spaces. Because the contractor kit comes with two fulcrums, you can have two pry bars going at the same time. One of the fulcrums is much smaller and can be attached to a single handle, making it quite compact and light, good for ladder work or for hanging off the tool belt all day.
The kit also comes with all of the required screws, screwdrivers, and wrenches needed to assemble the pry bar. The assembly process takes moments, so it is no problem to change blades on the fly or in the middle of a job.
For our first test, we took down a small bathroom ceiling. Because the space was tight, we only needed the small fulcrum and a short handle. The ceiling came down in about four or five minutes. The end of the blade is sharp enough to be easily pushed right through sheetrock and, the fulcrum did the rest. Although the ceiling came down fast, we didn't think that it was anything that a flat bar couldn't do in just a little more time. The job itself was basic and simple, just two sheets of sheetrock. So next we moved onto a larger, more complicated project.
At a job site, we were given the task of demolishing a 100 year old porch/entry way for a much larger restoration project. The porch had to come down, but there were a number of parts that needed to be salvaged; the columns, the soffit, and the fascia, as well as a good deal of decorative woodwork along the walls. We broke out the Artillery bar and had at it.
First, the parts of the porch that didn't need to be saved must have had no idea what hit them. Because the fulcrum is so large and the handle is so long (we were using the full 37"), boards were literally flying off the porch. It took far less energy than a smaller pry bar and went much faster. But where the Artillery Bar really impressed us was when we got to the delicate parts that we needed to save. The same characteristics that make the bar great for wholesale destruction (the handle length and the fulcrum), make it ideal for delicate work. Because we had so much control over the prying, we could be as gentle as we wanted. The range of blade sizes also came in handy here. Since switching them out is such a painless task, we had no problem going back and forth, depending on our needs.
Then we got to the deck portion of the porch. Taking off the deck boards of a 10x10 porch took us somewhere between five and ten minutes. Just one well placed pry and each board shot off the joists. The best part is that, because the handle is so long, we did it all standing up. They guy helping us just stood there staring in amazement.
Everyone on the job site came over to check out the Artillery Bar and to a man, they were impressed. And they should be, it's an impressive tool.
The big challenge that Joe Skach and Artillery Tools has is convincing people that they should use a high-priced pry bar when they can just pick up a flat bar for $10. Is the Artillery Bar that much better than the inexpensive demo bars? The answer is an easy yes. And there's really no question about it. The Artillery Bar, by making work go so much faster (and requiring much less back-breaking effort) is going to save you money, and after about the second job, you'll be in the black with it. Think of it as the Festool of the demo world; it's a higher price, but what you're getting is in a league of its own.
The Artillery Pry Bar is sold in a variety of ways. Three sets are available; Contractor, Contractor Starter, and Homeowner. All of these come with a case and a variety of handles and attachments. Also available are fully-assembled pry bars (just the handle, fulcrum and a 1-3/4" blade). The full sets range from $330 to $180 and the stand alone bars cost from $50 to $70 (come to think of it, the latest Stanley FuBar costs about $80, so maybe the Artillery isn't that outrageous after all). Additional blades are also sold individually, so you can start with an assembled pry bar and build your own kit. Blades run anywhere from $17 to $34. All other accessories; additional handles, fulcrums, the case, the screwdriver and wrench can be had separately as well.
Specific information on available sets, videos, and purchase at Artillery Tools.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at May 12, 2008 5:19 AM