Introduction: Foolproof Rebar Pulling

Ordinary tent stakes slide right out of the dry lake bed, or playa, that people camp on at Burning Man. The time honored solution is rebar. It's cheap, easy to cut to size, and not too hard to hammer into the playa after a little practice.

But then there's pulling it back out of the ground.

You can't leave it. You can't cut it off. And gee, it appears to be a total bear to pull out of the ground...

You could hammer it sideways, bend, and twist it out, but then your rebar is all bent up and winds up left in storage, sad, unloved, while you wind up buying more because it's cheap.

You could try dumping water around it to loose the playa soil, but that 1) leaves a pit, 2) gets messy & old, fast, and 3) doesn't even work an better than bend & twist.

Fear not! A couple years back my campmate discovered a foolproof way to pull every piece of rebar you used around your camp in minutes. As in 10 seconds per stake. It's nuts!

Step 1: Find Some Lumber & Vice Grips

You'll need a 2-by-4, and a sturdy pair of vice grips.

Adjust the vice grips so you can firmly clamp the thickness of rebar you've merrily strewn all over your camp.

Lay the 2-by-4 next to the rebar, about one-third of the way up its length.

You're making a second-class lever. The pivot (fulcrum) will be the end of the lumber nearest the rebar. You'll apply upward force (effort) on the end of the lumber furthest from the rebar. The embedded rebar (load) is between the fulcrum and the effort in a second-class lever.

Step 2: Vice Them Grips

Set the vice grips down on the wide side of the 2-by-4. Clamp the rebar with the vice grips. Point the jaws of the vice grips towards the short end of the lumber (fulcrum). Point the handles toward the long end.

Grab the long end. Lift it off the ground. With your second-class lever mechanical advantage of > 1, your puny human strength is multiplied! Moreover, you can direct the force at the fulcrum straight up, without being bent over the rebar yanking it upward, towards your face-parts.

Step 3: Bask in Glory

Suddenly the most exhausting and stressful part of decamping is a breeze. With the ability to pull up rebar stakes in a few minutes, you can leave your shade structure up longer when leaving the playa. You can also be more confident in your ability to break camp when it's dark out!

Have a delightful Burn!

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