A good pry bar is a must-have tool for any framer. We use one for anything from demo to stripping forms to moving walls and big panels, and we’ve long been fans of the Burke Bar, Jr., a 47-inch bar with a curved, 3-inch-wide blade. Unfortunately, a couple of years ago, someone stole the Burke bars we had owned since the late ’90s from one of our jobsites (I think it was some kids, because they left other things behind that were a lot more valuable), and I had to replace them.

Even though I loved the Burke bar, I’m open to trying new tools and noticed that Dude Tools was offering a similar pry bar in a couple of different sizes with some interesting features. I own several of the company’s Dude Buster deep sockets and have been impressed with their American-made quality, so I decided to buy two of Dude’s Mini Form Busters for my crew when I discovered them online.

The Mini Form Buster has a rubber bumper under the handle to save your knuckles.
The metal knuckle under the bar is designed to accommodate an optional wheel kit.

There is a full-size Form Buster with a 48-inch-long handle and a 12-inch-long by 3-inch-wide curved blade. The Mini Form Buster that I ended up ordering is a little smaller than the Burke bar, with a handle measuring 36 inches long and a 12-by-2-inch blade, but I consider it an upgrade because it has a couple of additional features that work well. One is the “knuckle-saver bumper” under the handle, a welcome addition. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve smashed my knuckles while stripping foundation forms; with the Form Buster, the bumper leaves a small space between the handle and the surface that momentum or a heavy form is trying to drive your hand into.

The other useful feature is the round metal knuckle right under the curve of the bar, which provides more leverage for prying. There’s a hole through the knuckle to accommodate the axle for an optional wheel kit that can be added to the bar, but we didn’t order that.

Besides working well to strip forms, the Mini Form Buster is great for prying walls up enough to get blocks under them for either rigging or wall jacks. It’s also great for squaring up a big wall; we just screw a block to the subfloor sheathing and use the Mini to rack the wall as needed until the diagonals are equal.

The Mini Form Buster's curved blade design offers improved leverage.

We frame, sheathe, and—often—install windows, siding, and trim on the flat before lifting walls into place. Those framed walls are heavy, but the curved blade on the Form Buster slips easily underneath them; from there, it’s a matter of leverage and our Mini Form Busters help us maximize that leverage, making our lives easier. Once we’ve lifted a wall into place, we can put the curved end between a block and a 2-by brace to use the bar as a handle to move the wall to plumb. $250. dudetools.com

Photos by Tim Uhler.