FCI Tool Guide
May 31, 2007
Hey! I’m back. This time I received five tools to check out: one High Pro Tools 316 Triple Threat hammer stapler, from Orcon; a Wide Track Knee Kicker; a Magnum Top Row Cutter; and from Rapid Tools, their Air Seam Weight, and the The Row Cut with Laser. So what I’m going to do is report on them in the order I received them. I received two tools that do the same job, so I’m going to do my best not to make a comparison.
The first tool I received is the High Pro 316 Triple Threat hammer stapler. Now get this: it will use 3 different sizes of staples. It will use 7512s, 5010s and A-11. I use 5010s myself so those were the first ones I put through it. So how do you check out a hammer stapler? You load it and hammer away, right? That is exactly what I did. It worked really well with putting pad on steps. The tool seemed to have nice balance to it and has a very comfortable grip for us old guys with sore and stiff hands. It set the staple with little effort. The next test I put it to was with 7512s. Only this time I thought I’d make it a little harder - harder as in hardwood. I hammered staples into some hardwood flooring I had left from my floor. The staples went in with no problems. So having no A-11 staples I presume they would be no problem beings they are a shorter staple. Now just to settle my own curiosity (they don’t say not to do it) I mixed the 2 different size staples in the stapler. It didn’t affect it at all; I was figuring it may jam, but it didn’t. So maybe if you ran out of your staples on a job you could possibly use some of you buddy’s if he used a different size. That’s a good feature.
According to their web site www.highprotools.com the stapler is designed for hardwood installers. I’m a carpet installer, so what is the reason a hardwood installer would use 3 different sizes of staples? I could understand it with the different thickness of pads. I’m just being smart. The tool worked very well. Check out www.highprotools.com.
were the Orcon Wide Track Kicker and the Magnum Top Row Cutter. These are the prototypes and I don’t know if the kicker is part of the Magnum series or not. But the row cutter definitely is. Let’s do the Magnum row cutter first. I’ve been using this tool since the first of the year and found it works very well. The handle is a little different in that it feels like you are getting a hold of real soft leather.
If you look at the design of the cutter blade, you will see that it is not totally flat on the bottom. There is a slight arc to it and it has little notches cut into the edge. The notches somehow make you feel the row a little better. The arc is designed that when you push down on the heel of the handle that it forces the nose of the tool down on the carpet instead of out of the row. The front lower edge of the tool also looks like it has been sharpened. This helps keep it in the row and in the finer gauges is a plus. The blade itself is very sturdy. I tried bending it with my hands and couldn’t move the tip. A bent tip means the tool won’t track right. The tool holds two slotted blades at a preset depth other than closed.
The Orcon Wide Track Kicker is just what it says. It is 5-1⁄2 inches across the head. It has 5 rows of teeth and 4 cotton heads or nap grippers. In the closed position it is approximately 18 inches from nose to back of pad. Opened up it is about 25 inches from nose to back of pad. It has dual locking buttons for adjustment. It is a high profile so it will go over stretcher tubes without a problem. It is very heavy to match the design.
I hooked up with my friend Larry Carpenter so we could try out some of the tools and get pictures of them being used. He even waited for me to get there, which I thought was very nice of him. Thanks Larry; it is appreciated.
The size of the tool I thought that it would be like putting your regular size kicker against a wall and slamming it. It wasn’t that way at all. In fact it was quite comfortable. But maybe the size and weight will tire you at the end of the day. For the ‘boot and scoot guys’ it may make your day shorter. But we don’t know guys like that, do we?
I couldn’t find this particular tool on Orcon’s web site, www.orcon.com; as I said, it is a prototype, but check out their other tools while you are there.
Now comes Rapid Tools Air Seam Weight and the Row Cutter with Laser. The Air Seam Weight is a very well thought out tool. It has a headlight as well as cord locks for your iron and extension cord plus a sizable fan for pushing air.
The tool is about 7 inches wide, 16 inches long, and 9 inches high. It weighs about 17 pounds. There are 2 receptacles on the top for plugging in your extension cord and iron or whatever you may want to plug in. There are also 2 switches, one the master switch that does the fan and iron and the other for the headlight.
The cord locks are a nice feature. How many time have you had your iron come unplugged from your extension cord only to find out it is to late and you have a cool iron and have to stop and waited for it to heat back up. I hate it when that happens. I know it has happened to me many times over the last 41 years. That won’t happen if you use the locks.
The headlight is another nice feature. It sure does help find those little seam problems when making the seam. Their Rapid Tools website, www.rapidtools.us, says it will help in a dimly lit closet. Now I don’t know if know if they are meaning help with the seaming process or just help with lighting in a dark corner. How many times have you wished for a little more light? This may be the answer; it couldn’t hurt.
The width of the tool being 7 inches now means for the people who use 6-inch irons that it will also cool them and the other full width tapes, another plus.
The configuration of the bottom fins makes the air move around instead of a straight line to help cool better. The fins are actually my only concern with the tool. Now this is a “what if” type thing. What if an installer has his iron cranked to the maximum heat setting and the tool is running very hot, will the heat under the fins cause the yarn to crush or wilt and leave a mark?
The Row Cut with Laser is a very unique tool. I saw it in Vegas this year at Surfaces. When I saw it, I think my eyes lit up as bright as the laser light. Now we got saws, squares, guns and a whole fleet of different things with lasers. But this is the first carpet tool with a laser, I think. In using the tool, I found that it shoots a straight line out in front of you as well as a crossline or cross hair that lets you know if you aren’t at a perfect 90-degree angle. If you deviate at all, the cross hair will go out of a “+” mark and become angled. An immediate glance at the lines will tell you if the cutter is not straight up and down. Also the straight line feature kind of gives you a good idea where the row should be and follow. We know the rows are always perfectly straight don’t we? Yeah right! It’s a good feature for precision cuts.
The tool looks to be very well built and is quite a bit heavier than other row cutter I’ve used over the years. The main body of the tool is about 3⁄4 of an inch thick, not counting the handle.
Speaking of the handle, it is quite comfortable with rubber type of grip. It is more of a straight line, more parallel to the floor, than curved like other row cutters, and round. The round part also houses the laser and has a screw cap that holds the extra tips and blades.
It comes with 3 different tips, two being knitting needle type tips, one sharper, and one a screw driver blade type tip. The tips are very easily changed. Just a little tug and out they pop. They are held into place with a magnet and a slot that matches up to the blade of the tool. The tip mounts at the front of the tool so no need to pre-run the rows. The tips are also adjustable for length if you want them longer or shorter. Don’t forget to align with the runner blade with the slot when changing the tips.
The runner blade is just 3⁄8 of an inch from the runner blade to the body and that gave me a little concern when using it on the thicker denser carpets that it may hold the blade off the carpet. But it didn’t when I tried it.
The tool will hold 2 slotted blades that can be adjusted to your preferred depth. You can also use one blade. I took out one blade and found that the single blade tracked almost dead center of the runner blade. I have heard many times at CFI certifications where installers are always trying to find a tool with the blade closest to center. For you people this may be it. All said and done the tool performed very well. Check it out at www.rapidtools.us.
I hope everybody has more work than they can handle and are being properly paid for it.