Whether installing a deck or repairing an old one, there’s no way around it. You’re doing to have to contend with bent deck boards.
You can spend hours going through the decking pile at the lumber yard, carefully scrutinizing each and every decking board, but you’ll still likely end up with more than a couple of disagreeable boards that refuse to line up with the rest of them.
If you’re ordering decking for delivery, don’t expect the guys fulfilling your order to be picky when selecting your deck boards. Expect to have many warped boards to wrestle with.
The goods news is, wood is fairly malleable, meaning you’ll be able to work those boards back into place. But, unless you’re a bodybuilder, you probably won’t be able to do it with your bare hands. You’ll need a deck board straightener to help you.
These invaluable tools allow you to straighten bent deck boards quickly and easily, keeping your decking installation moving forward. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the best deck board straightening tools on the market. We’ll even discuss some DIY remedies for persuading those bent boards to line up.
At a Glance: My Choices for Best Deck Board Straightening Tool
- Top Pick: Cepco Tool BW-2 BoWrench Decking Tool
- DeckWise Hardwood Wrench Decking Straightening Tool
- Deck Devil Board Straightening Tool
- EasyGo Deck Board Bending Tool
- CAMO Lever Deck Board Bending and Locking Tool
- Stanley Board Bender
- Best Deck Board Straightening Tool Reviews
- 1. Cepco Tool BW-2 BoWrench Decking Tool
- 2. DeckWise Hardwood Wrench Deck Board Straightening Tool
- 3. Titan Building Products – Deck Devil Board Straightening Tool
- 4. EasyGo Deck Board Bending Bow Straightening Tool
- 5. CAMO Lever Deck Board Bending and Locking Tool
- 6. Stanley 93-310 5/8-Inch Board Bender
- What is a Deck Board Straightener?
- How to Choose the Best Deck Board Straightener
- How To Straighten Deck Boards
- Homemade DIY Deck Board Straightening Tool
- How to Straighten Bent or Bowed Decking Boards
Best Deck Board Straightening Tool Reviews
1. Cepco Tool BW-2 BoWrench Decking Tool
Stop making unnecessary holes in your deck by toenailing warped boards. That method only creates more ways for water to infiltrate your deck. Use Cepco’s BoWrench Decking Tool instead. This time-tested deck straightening tool has been around since 1992 and is one of just a handful of products Cepco makes.
Simple and powerful is the best way to describe the BoWrench. This tool works by fitting the tool to a joist by pulling the lever arm and releasing it. The tool locks when it is perpendicular to the head, holding the board firmly in place while you apply fasteners. Its design allows you to either push or pull the lever to force decking into place.
Its 24-inch handle provides enough leverage for closing gaps up to 2 inches wide. It features substantial prongs measuring 1.5 inches and 4.5 inches that provide a secure grip on the joists, ensuring it won’t pop loose when you’re applying pressure. It’s durable too, thanks to its stout heavy-gauge steel construction.
The BoWrench will work with various wood species, including treated pine, redwood, cedar, and even exotic woods.
It’s always better when you can use a tool for more than one application, and that’s the case with the BoWrench. You can also use the BoWrench to close gaps in paneling and tongue-and-groove plywood with the purchase of a cam attachment.
BoWrench also offers a variety of other attachments sold separately that allow it to work with over-sized joists or with hidden fastening systems such as Shadoe Track and Deckmaster.
2. DeckWise Hardwood Wrench Deck Board Straightening Tool
Deck board straighteners use the joists as a leverage point to straighten boards. The problem is, joists on decks can come in all shapes and sizes, making it difficult to design a one-size-fits-all deck board straightening tool.
DeckWise has done just that with this adjustable model. The DeckWise Hardwood Wrench adjusts to various sized joist thicknesses, eliminating the need to buy attachments for a single deck straightening tool or multiple straightening tools. There is a setting for standard 1.5-inch wide joists or double 3-inch wide joists.
A deck board tool doesn’t help much if you need someone else around to drive in the nails or screws while you hold the board in place. DeckWise’s tool features a locking mechanism that holds the board firmly in place, freeing up your hands to secure it to the joists.
DeckWise’s deck board straightener is an investment and more than twice the cost of other deck board straighteners. This is largely due to the quality of its build. It’s 25-inches long, providing ample torque without being unwieldy. It’s also constructed to handle the significant forces a straightener must endure.
It features anodized aircraft-grade aluminum and an old-school hardwood handle for maximum durability. Despite its heavy-duty build, It’s still light enough to tote to and from the worksite at just over 5.5 pounds. This makes it a great option for pros who use straighteners on a regular basis.
3. Titan Building Products – Deck Devil Board Straightening Tool
Most deck board straightening tools rely on lever action, using joists as a leverage point. That works fine, as long as you can latch onto a joist and don’t mind exerting energy to pull a board into place. Wide joists and those that aren’t a standard size can create problems for this type of deck straightener.
Deck Devil goes with an innovative design that saves your back while removing the joist from the straightening process. Deck Devil Board Straightening Tool is one of the only tools that use machine power as opposed to manual power to pull boards into place.
This board straightener uses a clamp that fits around the bent deck board and the fastened adjacent deck board. The clamp head fits into tight spaces allowing you to use it on decks with narrow gaps between the boards.
A screw mechanism powered by a standard cordless drill tightens the screw, pulling the board into place. Once the boards have been aligned, the clamps will hold it in place, allowing you to use both hands to drive in nails or screws. There’s no need to latch onto a joist and no pry par to pull on.
And, just in case there is no adjacent deck board to pull on, this straightening tool includes an adapter that grips a joist, allowing you to use the deck framing for leverage. Deck Devil also uses a unique design that allows the head to rotate, allowing you to grip a curved fascia board for leverage on more complex deck designs.
4. EasyGo Deck Board Bending Bow Straightening Tool
If you’re working on a deck project on your home and aren’t planning on starting a deck-building business, spending hundreds of dollars on a deck bending tool may not make much sense. Still, you need something to pull those deck boards in place.
This EasyGo Deck board bending tool is your answer. It will get the job done while still keeping your deck building or remodeling project under budget.
This tool uses the tried-and-true L-shaped design. Engage a joist with the L-end of the tool by placing it between the two metal pegs.
Apply the brace to the offending board and either push or pull until you’ve tightened it into position. The bar conveniently locks, freeing up your hands to drive in deck screws or nails to secure the board in place.
Though affordable, this deck bending tool isn’t cheaply built. It’s made of extruded steel and the two braces are attached with large steel pins held in place with cotter pins. The joints pivot to improve usability.
With a length of just under 29 inches, the bar provides plenty of leverage for taking on stubborn boards and even tougher hardwoods. And, it weighs just 5-pounds, making it easy to handle.
Just keep in mind that this tool doesn’t offer some of the bells and whistles of other board straighteners. It’s designed to fit standard 1.5-inch wide joists. It won’t fit double joists.
5. CAMO Lever Deck Board Bending and Locking Tool
Camo, well known for its popular hidden fastener system, uses an innovative design to solve your warped deck board issues. CAMO Lever Deck Board Bending and Locking Tool consists of a large lever attached to a wheel that serves as a wedge that forces the board in place.
The tool uses a stop lock that attaches to a single, double, or even metal joists. The brace includes a serrated edge for wood joists and a smooth side for metal joists.
Once engaged with a joist, the user pulls or pushes the lever, which turns the circular cam that pushes against the deck board. Once in place, the tool locks, allowing you to easily apply the fasteners.
This tool creates enough torque that pushing the board into place is fairly effortless. Camo even says you can set up groups of boards with spaces in place and use multiple camo levers to tighten all the boards at once for mass fastening, saving time.
This function makes it a great option for pros looking to improve efficiency and can warrant the expense of multiple CAMO deck board bending tools.
Despite its powerful design, this tool is relatively slight. The lever measures just 15 inches long and the tool weighs just over 5 pounds.
This is also a durable tool. The wheel brace that presses against the decking is made of high-grade plastic that won’t damage the wood. The lever and body are made of steel.
The Camo deck board bending tool will work with treated lumber, hardwoods, and composite decking. It’s also designed to work in conjunction with Camo’s hidden fastener system, including its DRIVE stand up installation tool.
6. Stanley 93-310 5/8-Inch Board Bender
Tool manufacturing giant Stanley offers a different take on the steel lever design than other deck straighteners use. Rather than using a bar that engages the joists with metal studs, Stanley board bender uses a bar curved in an L shape with a large U-shaped hook at the end, giving it a rather formidable look.
The large hook wraps around the joists. A metal bumper welded to the inside of the bar serves as the pressure point that pushes against the decking. Once in place, the user pushes the handle down to force the deck board forward into place.
With its durable construction, this tool will hold up to many board bending sessions. It features 5/8-inch thick carbon steel construction. A large cushioned grip allows you to get a firm hold on the tool while not hurting your hand. The hook is held to the bar with a large nut and bolt.
The hook features a 1 7/8-inch opening, making it usable with standard 1.5-inch wide joists. This tool won’t work with double joists. The bar measures 26 inches long, providing plenty of leverage for pulling stubborn boards into place.
Stanley’s tool is a good inexpensive option for homeowners working on a deck project or pro deck builders.
What is a Deck Board Straightener?
A deck board straightener is a tool that is designed to straighten warped boards on a deck. Although there are many different designs, most use long bars that allow the user to generate a significant amount of torque for pushing boards that cannot be pushed into place with bare hands. Other designs use screw mechanisms or wheels as leverage to push the bar into place.
Most are designed to latch onto joists, which serve as leverage for the tool. The user pulls or pushes on the bar, which applies pressure to the deck board, pushing it into place. These tools also feature locking mechanisms, which hold the board into place, so the user can apply the screws or nails.
Deck board straighteners are typically made of high-grade steel, which can withstand the forces placed on the tool.
How to Choose the Best Deck Board Straightener
Solid Construction – Persuading warped deck boards to move into place requires a significant amount of force. A good deck board straightener should hold up under all of that pressure.
With that in mind, look for a deck board straightener with durable metal construction. They should consist of heavy gauge steel with thick pins reinforcing the joints. Some higher-end straighteners will even use airplane grade aluminum, which is very strong, but also very light.
Price – Deck board straightener range significantly in price. While some models cost less than $50, others can eclipse $200. You get what you pay for. A high-priced deck board straightener will include features that make them easier to use with durable construction that will last longer than cheaper models.
That said, it doesn’t always make sense to spend more on a tool. You need to consider how much use you’ll get out of it. If you’re looking for a tool to support a single deck project, consider going with a less expensive model that fits with your budget.
If you’re a pro looking for a tool to help make your deck building jobs efficient, it may make sense to invest in a more expensive model that will endure regular use and potentially save your back.
Design – while many deck board straighteners follow the tried-and true-design that feature long bars that use the joists as leverage, there are many others that use unique designs. Some even use common power tools, such as a cordless screwdriver to offer a power deck board straightener.
Some are physically easier to use than others, which could be significant if you, for example, have knee or back problems that limit your mobility.
Some designs offer locking features that keep the board in place, freeing up your hands to drive nails or screws into the decking. This allows you to work alone.
Also, consider if the tool will work with your deck design. Some designs only work with standard width joists, while others will also work with double-width joists, while others don’t engage with joists at all. Determine what will work best for your project or, if you’re a pro, consider that you may need to use the tool for a variety of different deck designs.
Grip – For a deck board straightener to work well, you need to get a good grip on the handle. A good deck board straightener should have a molded cushioned grip that you can hold firmly. The grip should also distribute force across your entire grip to make applying force to the bar less painful on the hands.
How To Straighten Deck Boards
To straighten a deck board with a deck board straightening tool, start by fitting the tool on a joist. Align the tool so that it engages with the deck board.
Pull the bar an inch or so to make sure the tool is locked firmly onto the joist and the piece that engages with the deck board is flush to the wood. If your decking has a gap between the board. Insert a spacer.
Push or pull the lever until the board is flush to the adjacent board or until it is pressed firmly against the spacer. The lever should automatically lock into place once it is perpendicular to the board.
Check to make sure the board is straight, then use a cordless drill or hammer to install the fasteners.
Homemade DIY Deck Board Straightening Tool
DIY Deck Board Tool
If you hate the idea of spending money on a tool that may not see a lot of use, then build your own deck board tool for a fraction of the cost.
Head to your local home improvement store and look for 14-gauge square steel perforated tubing. You’ll need one 3-foot section. Also purchase two 3/8-inch diameter 3-inch-long hex head bolts, two 3/8-inch in diameter 5-inch long hex-head bolts, a 3/8-inch in diameter by 3-inch long carriage bolt, and three 3/8-inch lock nuts.
Using a hacksaw, cut the tubing into three sections: 28 inches, 5 inches, 3 inches. Attach the 5-inch length to the bottom of the 28-inch length using a 5-inch long hex bolt. Run the 3-inch long carriage bolt through the end of the 5-inch piece and weld them in place. This will serve as the joist grabber.
Attach the small 3-inch piece about 6-inches from the end of the 28-inch piece. Cut a piece of large dowel or scrap wood and use a bolt to create the handle. This design will work as a standard deck board straightening tool at a fraction of the cost.
DIY Deck Board Straightener
If you have the capability to weld metal, you can make this simple DIY deck board straightener from scrap metal. This solution uses the power of screws to tighten boards.
It uses a thick flat bar bent at 90-degree angles to create a cuff that fits perfectly over a 1.5-inch joist. A 5/8-inch nut is mounted to the cuff and a long bolt is run through the nut. The second piece of flat bar is bent at a 90-degree angle with a 5/8-inch nut welded to its surface.
The tip of the long bolt is threaded into the welded nut, attaching the two pieces of the flat bar together.
The straightener works by tacking the cuff in place with screws or nails over a joist that runs perpendicular to the bent board.
The L-shaped bracket sits flush on the side of the deck board. When the hex head of the long bolt is turned with a socket wrench or power driver, it drives the L-shaped bracket forward, forcing the deck board into place.
How to Straighten Bent or Bowed Decking Boards
Another simple option that doesn’t require welding or much assembly involves using a few items you probably have lying around your workshop.
You’ll need a piece of metal angle about 1/8-inch thick and 6 inches wide and a pipe clamp or a c-clamp with enough range to cover the width of two deck boards, including the gap.
Attach the metal angle to a small scrap piece of decking, making sure that the metal angle plate is wider than the board depth. This will create a jig with a small metal lip that can slide in between the spaces between your deck boards.
Slide the jig into the gap on the far side of the deck board adjacent to the one you’re straightening. Place it on the side of the clamp against the jig’s metal angle. Place the other side against the edge of the crooked board.
As you tighten the clamp, it will straighten the board. Use a spacer between the straight board and the crooked board to help you achieve proper alignment. Once the board is properly aligned, leave the clamp in place and fasten the board to the joist using nails or screws.
Don’t let warped boards bring your deck project to a grinding halt. You don’t have to create a reject pile of warped boards. By using one of the solutions described above, you can force that disagreeable decking to line up with the rest of the boards and keep your project moving forward on schedule.
Although many of these options are an effective solution, Cepco BoWrench Decking Tool, which has been straightening decks boards for nearly 30 years, is the option that I would recommend. This sturdy tool will get the job done without taking a significant chunk out of your project budget.