I always enjoy the opportunity to write about jobsite tools since I’m a tool junkie and I’m sure many of you are also. This past year I started adding to my inventory of cordless tools and it’s been great not having to run cords for all of our tools. Besides the cordless drills that most of us have, the selection of cordless tools has pretty much matched corded tools.
The one thing I would like to see is more of a universal fitting battery so I don’t have to have so many different chargers for all the brands I use, since not one brand seems to have everything I need. One of the big differences I’ve noticed with the cordless tools is that the batteries on tools with brushless motors definitely last longer—there is more cost but it’s worth the investment for longer battery run time.
Recently, we installed 2,500 sq. ft. of hardwood for an exhibitor at TISE and ran our cordless DeWalt FLEXVOLT 8 1/4” table saw and 7 1/4” FLEXVOLT miter saw with no downtime rotating between four batteries. The miter saw comes with the 20-volt max battery but the larger FLEXVOLT batteries fit right on it and give it plenty of power, and it’s the just the right size for most hardwood/laminate flooring and trim (Photos 1 and 2). We also use the Milwaukee M18 FUEL dual bevel 10” cordless miter saw for wider cuts and trim work (Photo 3).
While at the National Wood Flooring Association’s annual expo in Phoenix recently, I stopped by to see Lee Stegall at the Power Adhesives booth where he showed me their new cordless B-TEC807 hot glue gun. Cordless glue guns have been around for years, but they’ve had their issues with maintaining consistent heat and any prolonged use. With an 18-volt battery that gives approximately 45 minutes of run time and 3 minutes to heat up, that is no longer an issue (Photo 4).
Luxury vinyl planks (LVP) are gaining tremendous market share right now. One thing that has been somewhat of a challenge is cutting these products and with the addition of all the multi-layered cores, it makes it even more difficult to use a utility knife and straight edge. Installers have to make several passes to cut and then snap the products.
Bullet Tools has developed tools to make it much easier for installers to cut the ends, as well as along the lengths, of LVP. The BT 92 vinyl cutter makes end cuts and what makes it even greater is that all the components fit inside the cutting table/case. The tool can be disassembled and it all fits in the case so its easy to transport and store in the work vehicle (Photos 5 and 6).
For length cuts, Bullet Tools has the Bullet Vinyl Glider. The tool has non-stick runners that let the tool glide easily along the LVP, and it has an adjustable fence that allows cuts up to 9.5”. It also features an adjustable blade that extends and retracts to score planks from .80” (2mm) and .25” (6mm) thick (Photo 7).
One thing I really like about these tools is they are ergonomically friendly for the installer. Those installers who use a straight edge and knife for long durations of time know that burning feeling that can occur in their wrists as they are constantly pulling the knife and straining their wrist. That burning or numbness is the first sign of carpal tunnel syndrome, which is painful and can even lead to surgery if not addressed. With more and more LVP being installed I see these types of tools as a must-have just for the health benefits for installers.
On the tile side of things, iQ Power Tools has come up with their 10” iQTS 244 Dry Cut Tile Saw. The saw utilizes an integrated vacuum system with cyclonic action that captures 99.5% of dust. For my area of the country (Salt Lake City, Utah) that means a lot. Having to use immersion heaters and cutting out in the garage or outside in the winter cold just isn’t any fun.
Yes, there are tents that can be set up indoors but with this saw all you do is bring it in, set up the stand and start cutting tile. The vacuum not only captures the dust but also cools the blade to minimize wear on it, which was a concern I had when I first saw the tool, but now I can see how the blade has more longevity even though it’s a dry cut.
I also see this as a time-saving tool. When using a wet saw, most installers set their saw outside and have to walk back and forth to where they are setting tile. What if you could just place the tool in the area you are working? We all know time is money and if we can minimize downtime, we can make more money (Photo 8).
At the speed of light. That’s what technology is bringing to the hardwood finish side of the industry. UV-cured, water-based site finishes have been around for a few years now and are starting to gain some momentum in the hardwood finish side. So, to see a new type of curing process for hardwax oil finishes just shows how fast technology is moving.
I had the opportunity to meet up with some industry colleagues at the NWFA Expo in Phoenix. Sheldon Walker who works with Vesting USA demonstrated their LED technology and explained that the use of LED, which is “cool light,” does not heat up the hardwood floor like UV lights do. Additionally, LED technology doesn’t release any ozone, he said. As for having to wait for the hardwax oil to cure? Once the oil has been applied and then exposed to the LED light, it’s cured and dry—meaning that the floor is ready to be walked on and furniture can be set in place (Photos 9 and 10).
The other manufacturer that I stopped to see was Rubio Monocoat, where I saw two more colleagues—Johannes Boonstra and Allan Nery—demonstrating their LED technology for hardwax oils (Photos 11 and 12).
We’ve shown a few new jobsite tools that are a great addition to the industry, but there were so many that I just couldn’t cover them all. By the looks of things, the near future will be bringing a lot more. The only problem with this is I find myself spending quite a bit of money, but hey if it makes my and my installers’ jobs easier and better, then it’s worth the investment.