Friday, March 4, 2011

A Very Simple Product, The Great Neck Saw Brand Prybar Does What It Promises!

The Good: Durable, Does what it promises, Lifetime warranty
The Bad: None that I can find!
The Basics: An excellent prybar for home use for all types of projects requiring a simple, durable lever, the 15" Versabar does not quit!

I love pushing myself as a writer. Lately, that has taken me to my toolbox to write reviews of the tools I find there as I diversify my review portfolio and stretch myself as a writer. But as I consider the Great Neck Saw 15" Versabar, all I keep thinking of is the episode of The Simpsons where the inanimate carbon rod is named Employee Of The Month. Sometimes I review something that is simple and direct and it either works or it does not. The Great Neck Saw 15" Versabar is one such product and it works, wonderfully, and that leaves one with very little to consider about it. Even so, I welcome the challenge and having had the Versabar in my toolbox for almost a decade, I figure it is time to look into what this amazing piece of metal does.

I was given the Versabar as a housewarming gift by my former father-in-law and I discovered it is truly a tool of a thousand uses. Made by Great Neck Saw, the Versabar is a brand-name for the prybar from Great Neck Saw. This is what many of us grew up calling a crowbar and it is essentially a solid piece of metal used to pull, split and lift items in the fashion of a simple lever. This makes the Versabar an inexpensive and powerful way to pull nails, pull open doors and pry up floorboards.

The 15" Versabar is, as its name suggests, fifteen inches long from the straight forked end to the curved end that ends in a similar forked end. Unlike some prybar and crowbars, the Versabar is a flat piece of steel 1 3/8". At a uniform 1/4" thick, the Versabar is strong and I've yet to encounter anything that would cause this piece of steel to bend. The Versabar is designed to pry, which means that it works as a simple lever. Levers, as one might recall from basic physics, are based on a principle by which the work expended to move an object is made more manageable by applying a force further away from the fulcrum (point at which motion in one direction rotates to be applied in another direction). Work is not lessened, but it feels easier because less force is required to move items on the shorter end (from the fulcrum) of the lever. This is the reason the Versabar is not simply a straight piece of steel; the ends are offset from the flat center section which allows the tool to essentially have a built-in fulcrum. As a result, when one sticks the flat end of the Versabar into a surface, the handle of the bar comes out at a thirty degree (approximately) angle. This gives the user instant leverage with the Versabar.

The ends of the Versabar are essentially two flat prongs (tines) that resemble the head of an ax. As a result, both ends of the Versabar are actually sharp and may easily hurt those who are not careful as there is essentially a blade at both ends. The beveled edge at each end is designed for a simple purpose, to allow the Versabar to wedge into surfaces that are very close together and no other tool will easily reach between, like for example floorboards. The slightly offset end ("flat end") offers the user a great amount of leverage by shoving it into the cracks that need to be wedged open. One may hammer the curved end to push the flat end into a crack as the curved end forms a flat surface perpendicular to the opposite end which is designed to be hit with a hammer or other weighted object to push the Versabar into objects that need to be separated. If one is using the Versabar for something simple like nail removal, the flat end is split with two tines that allow the Versabar to be situated on two sides of the nail head (think the back of a hammer) and offer a more even pulling opportunity as a result.

The curved end of the Versabar has a similar "claw" for getting under nails and offering the greatest amount of surface area for gripping the nail and allowing it to be pulled upward. The advantage of using the curved end is that it both offers greater leverage to the user and it may allow the user to pull nails from less-accessible places.

I have used my Versabar for everything from pulling nails (ideal) to breaking into my house when I locked myself out. It was messy, but the Versabar works as a wood chisel and it may be used to pretty much rip away a door frame in conjunction with a sledge under the most dire circumstances. Through the years of active use with me, the Versabar never bent, never threatened to give way and I've never had to sharpen the ends to keep it usable. The 15" Versabar has never chipped, dented or broken.

What it has done is ended up looking less pretty over the years. The Versabar comes with a black powdercoating to protect it from the elements with only the ends of the versabar showing the steel that the tool actually is. The powdercoating has chipped and split - probably from when I was using it to wedge apart firewood a few years back - and as a result, the Versabar looks a little less nice. It looks worn and where the powdercoating does not protect it, it is vulnerable to rust. Even so, using the Versabar gets any rust that is on it off pretty quickly and tools do not need to look pretty to be perfectly functional. When it was stored in my tool room in the basement (which was where my dehumidifier was), the Versabar never rusted or showed any signs of wear when not in use.

If the rust were ever to do anything serious to the Versabar, I feel confident that the lifetime warranty would be exercised by Great Neck Saw. They do not appear to be going anywhere, but given how durable this tool was over the years I actively used it (and no doubt will again when I have a new house!), I doubt I will ever need to replace it.

Near the flat end of the Versabar is a keyhole which may be used as a third place to pull nails with or which offers a convenient place to hang the Versabar from when one is storing it.

But in the end, the 15" Versabar is something of perfection by default. This does exactly what it promises, which is to pry objects without ever bending, breaking or otherwise making the user believe it could give out. There's little else one might reasonably ask from their tools!

For other tool reviews, please check out my takes on:
Pro Tools Magnetic Key Holder
Great Neck Saw 16 oz. Mallet
Stanley 42-468 18" ABS Level


For other home and garden reviews, please check out my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2009 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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