My attic has tongue and groove planking down as the floor, and I need to do some work up there. I'd like to only remove a couple planks in the middle of the field, rather than pulling up half the floor to get to the point where I need access.

The planks are nailed down (face nailed), and there is not a large enough gap between them to get any type of saw in to cut the tongues (nothing thicker than a razor will fit). The floor will have to be put back together when I'm done, so I don't want to do too much damage when removing the boards.

How can I remove a few boards in the middle of the floor, without damaging any of the planks (too bad)?

  • Are you willing to sacrifice one plank? Oct 12, 2011 at 13:00
  • 1
    @SteveJackson Not really, I think I would have a hard time finding a replacement that matches close enough (the floor was installed in the 20's).
    – Tester101
    Oct 12, 2011 at 13:31
  • 3
    How do you feel about buying a new tool? Oct 12, 2011 at 14:19
  • 1
    @TheEvilGreebo new tools are always welcome.
    – Tester101
    Oct 12, 2011 at 14:29

3 Answers 3


If you really want to try to save the plank, BMitch's instructions for removal are spot on but instead of a circular saw, get yourself one of these babies:

enter image description here

The square blade shown here will give you clean end cuts, and for your long run, this blade will be your friend: enter image description here

You'll get very straight, TIGHT cut lines along the seams, be practically invisible when all is back in place.

  • 6
    I would help if you said what "one of these babies" actually was :)
    – ChrisF
    Oct 12, 2011 at 20:51
  • Fein calls theirs a MultiMaster. I have two contractor friends who swear by them.
    – TomG
    Oct 12, 2011 at 23:47
  • They're usually generically called "Oscillating Multi-Tools" -- Dremel, Bosch, Rockwell, Ryobi, and many others now make them since Fein's patent on the technology has expired. Fein is still the best. Bosch is good. Beware of Dremel's; I've heard the motor burns out quickly under sustained use like you're considering. The expensive part is the replacement bit. Other manufacturers' bits/blades are not compatible with their mounting; Bosch sells converters. Beware of threaded mounting methods. Oct 13, 2011 at 0:48
  • Personally mine is a Bosch, and I could not be happier with it. Oct 13, 2011 at 1:05
  • 1
    I'll give you the "accept", though it turns out I didn't need to cut anything. Somebody must have done work there before, because the bottom of the groove on a couple planks was already removed. So removing the planks was easy. I did get to buy a new tool, before I made the discovery though!
    – Tester101
    Oct 18, 2011 at 13:18

Bite the bullet and sacrifice a single plank, as Steve suggests.

If looks aren't too important or you can't find a replacement board, measure the depth of the planks and set a circular saw to that depth. Get a long straight edge (2x4, extra plank, etc) that you can put on the floor, attached with a couple screws or some very stable weights if you don't want to screw it down. The board should be attached so that the base of the saw runs along it and the blade cuts off the tongue of the adjacent board, freeing the grooves of the board you want to remove. You'll end up with a gap the size of a blade width when you reinstall it.

If looks are important, then cut out one board without damaging the adjacent boards, and get a replacement board. Remove the bottom of the grove on the replacement board so it can be reinstalled from above.


Could you drive the nails all the way thru? You might damage the edge of the first board you try to pry out.

  • This might work if the floor was installed with finish nails, but in my situation that is not the case.
    – Tester101
    Oct 12, 2011 at 12:37
  • 1
    If you can get a claw into the wood to pull out the nails, you could potentially pull out the nails of two boards, and then pop them out. If the claw damaged the face, you could then flip them over and re-nail from the back.
    – DA01
    Oct 12, 2011 at 17:42

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