I have a retaining wall, sorta. It acts as a divider between homes rather than retain anything. Built the same way as one, with 6x6 boards, spikes, all that jazz. No deadmen, of course.

I need to take it apart and down while keeping the boards intact (I am going to reuse them in furniture).

I tried just putting a bar between two and prying them apart but after a lot of work I got them separated by about 1/4". There's too many to do that way.


I'll try the sawzall approach this weekend and come back. Thanks for the suggestions!

  • 2
    Hi Matthew - it looks like your question got cut off - could you complete it? Also, adding some pictures is usually helpful.
    – Steven
    Commented Sep 29, 2012 at 22:44
  • If the boards are older pressure treated timbers they may contain chromium and or arsenic. This would make them unsuitable for furniture.
    – mikes
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 1:09
  • How old would they need to be or what surefire way could I use to see if they have chromium or arsenic? Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 22:59
  • Plenty of outdoor furniture (picnic tables, etc) was made with the old arsenic-laced PT lumber, and such use was within the guidelines established by the EPA.
    – kreemoweet
    Commented Oct 13, 2012 at 2:35
  • This furniture is for outdoor use only, does that mean I'm safer in case it is laced? Commented Oct 15, 2012 at 20:43

4 Answers 4


If you have access to a sawz-all also called a Tiger saw or reciprocating saw you can cut the spikes. Pry the timbers one at a time to get a little separation. Using the longest metal cutting saw blades you can get in the 14 tooth per inch range saw thru the spike. The longer blade will allow you to cut the spike if it is on the far side of the timber. Depending on what type of spike was used you may be looking at using several packs of blades. The process may get tougher near the bottom if they anchored the timbers to the ground with rebar.

  • You can probably rent a Sawz-all at a rental center.
    – TomG
    Commented Sep 30, 2012 at 0:53
  • This worked perfect. A little marring against the wood cause my aim sucked but otherwise was a snap. Thanks! Commented Oct 16, 2012 at 16:34

I just finished a similar project -- removing the top layer from about 40 running feet of retaining wall built with 6x8 timbers. I used a long crowbar (about 36") and a one pound sledge to drive the claw part of the crowbar under the top of the spike, then use the leverage of the crowbar to pull it out. It may only move a small amount at a time; add boards under the crowbar to raise it as the spike comes out. The large spikes typically used for retaining walls are quite tough to pull out -- if you can get space between the timbers, you might want to consider the Sawz-All approach suggested by Mikes.


I just finished a similar project and found the comments here very useful. Each 6x6 was tacked into the board below with 5 each 10" 3/8 diameter spikes, or a combination of spikes and rebar. Because the retaining wall ran up a hill, some of the 6x6 used spikes into boards on one end and 1/2 inch diameter 2 foot length rebar on the other. I drove a 5 lb wedge using a 3 pound hammer under one end of the 6x6 I wanted to move. Using a Sawzall with a carbide tipped Diablo heavy metal blade (~$14 at home depot) I was easily able to get through the spikes in about 2 - 3 seconds each. After each cut, I drove the wedge a little further. When it came to the rebar, I used a heavy 5 foot wrecking bar and a 5" by 5" block of wood (as a fulcrum) once the spikes were cut, I could slide the wrecking bar under the board, lift and move the fulcrum to the midway point toward the rebar end of the board, then use the board itself as a lever to pull the rebar out of the ground. A single Diablo carbide blade was sufficient to cut 40 spikes, with life left in it.


If you don't want to reuse the wood, and have 8' to 10' of space in front of the wall, rent a mini-excavator with a hydraulic thumb. I use a Kubota Kx-121 for projects like this. $200 a day or more cost wise.

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