How do I reformat hard drive when I can't erase the disk?

Machine: imac, OS 10.6.8
Initial Problem: Finder kept crashing for all users immediately after start up. As a result I was unable to try trashing finder preferences as recommended in this forum and elsewhere.
Attempted solutions:
1. Initially seemed unable to boot from Snow Leopard Installation Disk
2. Connected to another imac using firewire and booting problem computer into target mode
3. Ran Techtool pro from master machine. Hard drive and hardware fine but reported need to format disk on target machine.
4. Tried to install new os onto target drive using disk drive on master machine. Error message reported being unable to find target drive, even though it was showing on desktop of master machine
5. Tried to erase disk using disk utility on master machine, but error message stating unable to unmount target drive
6. Successfully rebooted using snow leopard installation disk, but unable to instal. Error message stated that the computer was not available. i.e. it had the yellow triangle with exclamation masrk
7. Tried to erase hard drive using disk utility from installation disk, but was unable to do so. The process commenced to unmount the disk, started to erase but stopped before task completed. Tried a second time with same result.
Obviously the machine needs complete reformatting. I made a backup before starting this series of unsuccessful attempts. I suspect that I need to use terminal from the installation disk, but I am not sure which terminal command to use.
Can anyone tell me? Or have I overlooked some simpler solution?

Install or Reinstall Lion/Mountain Lion from Scratch
Be sure you backup your files to an external drive or second internal drive because the following procedure will remove everything from the hard drive.
Boot to the Recovery HD:
Restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the COMMAND and R keys until the menu screen appears. Alternatively, restart the computer and after the chime press and hold down the OPTION key until the boot manager screen appears. Select the Recovery HD and click on the downward pointing arrow button.
Erase the hard drive:
  1. Select Disk Utility from the main menu and click on the Continue button.
  2. After DU loads select your startup volume (usually Macintosh HD) from the
      left side list. Click on the Erase tab in the DU main window.
  3. Set the format type to Mac OS Extended (Journaled.) Optionally, click on
        the Security button and set the Zero Data option to one-pass. Click on
      the Erase button and wait until the process has completed.
  4. Quit DU and return to the main menu.
Reinstall Lion/Mountain Lion: Select Reinstall Lion/Mountain Lion and click on the Install button.
Note: You will need an active Internet connection. I suggest using Ethernet if possible
            because it is three times faster than wireless.

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