I should have probably have written this before Christmas so you could have asked Santa to bring you some of these tools. But, you probably weren't good enough boys anyway and he already had your lumps of coal picked out. Well, we will start out the New Year with some new tools and a couple of old ones you should know about. Happy New Year my friends I hope it is a healthy and prosperous one for you.

Crain 585 Laminate Cutter

Crain Cutter Co.'s new 585 Laminate Cutter is designed to cut 7-, 8-, and 10-mm planks with ease. There is no dust and the tool can be used in the house right in the room you are installing. No walking outside, or to the garage to use a saw. The 585 comes with an "A" shape support to hold the end of the plank. (Photo 1)

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The curved blade cuts cleanly with its lever action. (Photo 2)

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The square edge blade is not sharp to begin with, so it never needs sharpening. (Photo 3) The aluminum oxide in the wear layer of the laminate is harder than the steel of the blade, so each cut redress' the blade.

Photo 4

The tool was designed for 8-inch wide plank with the stop to hold the plank and that resistance allows the blade to cut. I have found that the 585 can be used for 12-inch plank, angles, and length cuts as well. For wider planks and angles hold the plank steady with your hand, start the cut about half way through the swing of the blade it will start to bite at this point. Then move the plank forward, blade still in the cut, and make another cut. Two to three cuts will do the job (Photos 4 and 5) For length cuts I brace the end of the plank against my leg to get the first cut then hold the plank the back side of the blade for the subsequent cuts needed to finish. (Photo 6 and 7) Follow the same procedure for cutting angles (Photo 8).

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Another question I have heard is, "Will the 585 cut 12-mm laminate or engineered wood?" The answer is yes, with a but. Engineered wood and 12-mm laminate are as narrow as 3 inches wide. When you are cutting something that narrow, there is no leverage left in the handle arch. The solution? Use a scrap to shim the piece you are cutting farther into the shearing field where you have the advantage of leverage (Photo 9). You probably noticed the 585 is sitting in a box. Mike Drinkard from Crain showed me this trick. All the cuttings fall into the box, so at the end of the day, just empty the box into the trash. This leave very little mess in the room you are working.

Seamer Down Now

The "Seamer Down Now" (SND) is a vacuum seam weight. Yeah, I know; I scratched my head and said huh, when I first heard of it. The way it works is that it pulls the carpet flat up against it and pulls the melted thermoplastic adhesive from the seam tape deep into the back of the carpet. If that is not enough it will cool the tape to the point you can power stretch in 20 seconds. Yes, that is correct, 20 seconds. (Photo 10)

Think about it. For pattern carpet with pattern elongation, now you stretch up the short side and stay-tack. With the SND, stretch up the short side, lock your stretcher, seam up to the stretcher, and release the stretch. Move the stretcher farther up the seam, pull the pattern even and keep seaming. The SND cools the seam so fast there is no need for stay-tacks, same thing with a bow or skew. Also it will cool the seam so quick that it helps to prevent discoloration at the seam caused by the seaming heat. This is especially a problem with wool carpets

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A couple of things to be aware of: the openings at the bottom of the tool (Photo 11) run down the center of the tool and stop short of each end. This can be a problem when starting a doorway seam (Photo 12) or at the end of a seam.

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You need to make sure to get good transfer of the glue to the back of the carpet at those spots. Also because it is recommended to run your iron hotter (and you can) so the glue is more liquid and can be pulled into the back of the carpet easier, the tape has a tendency to stick to the pad. I run a layer of toilet paper under the tape; (Photo 13) the toilet paper will stick to the pad not the tape. You are not supposed to use a board under the seam because it restricts the airflow.

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Carder 141 Carpet Heater

Carder Industries has a new tool you boys in the northern climes will appreciate. It is for warming up carpet so it is installable. The 141 Carpet Heater is a powerful blower with a 750 watt heating element. It can be used a couple of ways. Either open the carpet and stick the nose, with or without the included hose (Photo 14), (Photos 15 and 16) under the edge and turn it on or block one end of the roll, put the nozzle of the 141 in the other and let it warm the carpet from the center out. It may not feel that hot to your hand, but trapped under the carpet the air gets warm enough, kind of like the carpet over a heating vent.

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Crain 508 Stretcher Legs Kit

This is not a new tool, but one you should know about. Ever get stuck in a hallway with offset doors, or only doors on one side, so there was no way to span doorways with a 2-by-4? Of course you have. Here's a solution. (Photos 17 and 18)

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The 508 kit comes in a convenient carrying case. It consists of the hip joint, one tail block and one short transfer tube (Photo 19). You will use your tail block and transfer tube from your stretcher. The 508 kit works with all junior stretchers.

When using the 508 it is important to have the engraving on the hip joint facing up and the wheels of your tail block facing up. This keeps the hip joint flat on the floor when stretching, so the force is transferred straight to the walls. I have also found it is advisable to fold back the carpet off the strip where the tail blocks meet the wall (Photo 20). This allows the carpet to stretch under the Tail Blocks.

An other tip: when stretching long hallways (40 feet or longer) stick the nose of an electric leaf blower or the Carder 141 Carpet Heater under the carpet. This will float the carpet on a cushion of air and make stretching those long hallways a breeze. OK I know bad pun, but I couldn't resist.

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Instabind

Instabind is a way to bind carpet on site with out a machine (Photos 21 and 22). Instabind is available in regular binding, serge binding and rope binding with 22 colors to chose from.

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I have talked about Instabind before in my columns "More Custom Stairs" (FCI Sept 2003) and "A Couple of Staircase Runner Tricks" (FCI July/August 2005); these articles are available on line at the FCI website or go to the Instabind.com website for more information.

Orcon and Gundlach Sealing tips

Another tool I have mentioned before ("The Latest and Greatest in Seaming Technology," FCI Sept 2002), but I mention again, because not enough of you are using, are the sealing tips for hot glue guns. (Photo 23) Using these tips eliminate the need to seal seam edges with latex, are quick and easy and cool or dry in 15 seconds. The most important thing about using these tips for edge sealing is that when the carpet is laid into the melted seaming tape, it reactivates the glue on the sealed edge, welding the edges together. Combined with some of the installation techniques I outlined in "Seam Peaking: Causes and Solutions Revisited," FCI July/Aug 2002, will not eliminate seam peaking, but certainly bring it down to an acceptable level.