December 10, 2023


Home is a place where we can be happy

I never knew I needed a wonder bar until I tried to remodel my first home

In what seems like a lifetime ago, I bought a 1940s, wood frame, fixer-upper, house in Houston, Texas – with an emphasis on the fixer-upper part (there was literally a giant hole in the kitchen floor through which dirt was visible). To be fair, the house had been “remodeled” in the 1970s during which wood paneling had been installed on pretty much every available surface. My only real excuse for purchasing a house that even my realtor warned was “a money pit,” was that I was young(ish) and not very financially solvent – in other words, the house was cheap as far as houses go.

What made the purchase of this particular house even more inexplicable, was that I hated wood paneling, had always hated wood paneling (and still hate wood paneling). I was, though, energized with the rather romantic notion of remodeling and restoring the house to its pre-1970s state; something that turned out (as many fantastical remodeling endeavors do) to be more difficult than anticipated.

It was during this ill-funded, total house renovation (embarked on by only myself and a couple of friends) that I discovered the tool I never knew I needed. The one that I never knew existed until then: something called a Wonder Bar.

12” Wonder Bar

12 in. Wonder Bar Pry Bar

12 in. Wonder Bar Pry Bar



Stanley 55-515 12-1/2" Wonder Bar

Stanley 55-515 12-1/2″ Wonder Bar



A wonder bar, a decidedly un-fancy tool, doesn’t look like all that much. It’s just a 12” piece of black curved steel with a few notches and holes. The ends are beveled though, so when you insert one end in between a 4’ by 8’ piece of wood paneling and a wood slat wall and strike the other with a hammer, you can fairly easily pry off that entire piece of paneling in a couple of strokes.

You can also remove molding, floorboards, medicine cabinets, fireplace facades, and most anything that’s in your way with a wonder bar. The holes and notches allow you to pull out all sizes of nails and bolts. Basically, if you need to take apart or demolish something, the wonder bar is the tool you need.

I suspect professional contractors know about the existence and usefulness of the wonder bar but I, who had grown up with parents well versed in tools and home repair, had never heard of one until a friend who worked on sets for film and television, informed me that was what I needed if I thought I was going to tear apart my new house on my own.

And he was right. There is no easier way (that I know of) to accomplish major renovation demolition by hand than using a wonder bar. 

That particular house is long gone from my life, but I still have my wonder bar. The steel is aged and patinaed into shades of grey and black with flecks of paint from various wall colors throughout the years – a remembrance and reflection of the past 22 years or so of my life. While I’m not tearing things apart so much now in my old(er) age, I find comfort in knowing that if I need to, I have the perfect tool for the task.