Cutting Sub-Flooring


Dear NH,
I need to remove one layer of built-up 1/2" plywood and two layers of vinyl from my kitchen to allow for dishwasher removal clearance before I lay down some laminate flooring. A test area under the refrigerator reveals that the 1/2" plywood was nailed and not glued to the sub-floor, so most of the removal should be easy. However, I would like to avoid removing the cabinets and try to cut the plywood flush to the toe kick board. Due to the overhang, what kind of tool can I use in this tight location? I tried a dremel with a cut off disc, but it's tedious and the discs shatter easily. The dremel saw blade is too small a diameter to cut all the way through. Any ideas? Thanks!
HK from Fairbanks, AK

HK,
If you were cutting through the entire sub-floor, you could use a reciprocating saw, held at a steep angle, to remove this extra wood around the floor cabinets. Of course, you'd have to be very careful to keep the cut as shallow as possible in case there are any pipes or electrical wires under the floor! A 6" or 8" nail cutting blade would be best. To start the cut and to avoid saw kickback and "skittering," drill a sufficiently large hole where you would like to start. If the cut is perpendicular to the floor joists, be careful not to cut into them. Use a chisel to clean up!

For removal of a layer or two of built-up floor, the pros use a "toe-kick saw." If you wanted to buy one, it costs around $250 and has one purpose, which is to cut close to walls and under the lip of floor cabinets. Depending on the blade used, you can cut wood or even ceramic tile. (This tool can also be used to remove ceramic floor tiles mid-floor.)

Rather than purchase, you may be able to rent one. I called our local rental store and they indeed have them. Of course, I don't think you'd want to drive to CT, so I checked online. I see that you have a number of rental stores in the Fairbanks area, so you'll probably get lucky! Good luck and I hope you can get your hands on one of these to make your job easier.
NH


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