Spring is right around the corner, and hopefully you are all having a good first quarter. So, have you invested in some new tools for this year? The right tools will make your installation easier.
If you install resilient flooring that requires heat welding, here’s a set of tools that are compact and quality-crafted. The ACCUTRAK Groover distributed by Taylor Tools is a small hand groover that fits in the palm of your hand (Photos 1 and 2). At first glance, you would think that the tool is too small to fit installers with bigger hands, but that’s not the case. The tool has good weight and balance and even installers with bigger hands will have no problem pushing the tool and cutting a groove. Blade depth is easy to adjust with just a screw and there are seven blade widths available from 2.3 to 6 mm—so you won’t have a problem cutting the right-sized groove to match the welding rod. There is also a rear blade that allows grooving right up to the wall instead of having to use a separate straight edge and hand groover (Photo 3).
Who would have thought you could go cordless with a heat welder? Well now you won’t have to plug in that extension cord and worry about power with the Accu-Welder, which uses butane (Photos 4 and 5). Would I use this on a large commercial job? Probably not, but then again, the tool wasn’t meant for those types of installations. Rather, it’s great for smaller jobs and as a great backup tool. Ever had a heating element go out on your heat weld tool while on the job? This tool can keep you going until you can repair your plug-in tool. The compact size is also great for inside and outside corner work. Pushing a button provides consistent heat and tips that fit standard heat welding tools will interchange directly to the Accu-Welder (Photo 6).
What about a skiving tool? Well the Mozart skiving knife isn’t new, but it’s been a very popular tool for skiving. It’s compact, it’s simple, you don’t need a separate space plate for the first pass, and you don’t need to sharpen the blades. Installers can also make quicker passes without damaging the face of the vinyl or linoleum (Photo 7). Did you know that the Mozart also has a speed trimmer that you use from a standing position? The tool allows you to make your pre-cut and trimming cut in a single pass and is ideal for large heat weld jobs (Photo 8).
If you’re into production, then you may be interested in Leister’s Minifloor automatic welder, which can weld at about 6.5 feet per minute. That’s about double the speed of manual welding. For those of us who have had or used some of the automatic welders from years ago, you’ll appreciate the size of the Minifloor auto welder. Leister did a good job of making the unit a lot smaller—especially when you consider the whole unit with a Leister TRIAC heat welder and nozzle weighs in at 15 pounds. The Minifloor welder can start at a wall, meaning you only have one weld joint—which saves even more time (Photo 9).
iQ Power Tools introduced their iQTS244 dry cut tile saw last year. When I first saw this tool at one of the trade shows I knew this would be a tool I wanted on the job. Living in Utah where we have our winter months, we’re used to using immersion heaters to keep our water warm, and even then our hands end up freezing. So the thought of not having to use water, and getting a clean cut without dust, makes this tool very desirable (Photo 10).
Sure, we have our score and snap cutters and small hand grinders, but they haven’t made a good dust containment system yet for hand grinders that also work well for cutting tile. iQ Power Tools states that their integrated dust control technology is 100% compliant with the new OSHA standard on respirable silica dust, so it makes it the perfect tool for cutting indoors. The iQTS244 utilizes a three-stage filtration system which captures 99.5% of the dust. The first stage is the heavy debris filtration; the second is a cyclonic filtration and the third is the dura bond filter cartridge which captures superfine particles. The saw uses a 10-inch blade that’s designed for dry cutting and is available form iQ Power Tools.
I’ll be honest—I was originally a bit hesitant about the longevity of the blade, but Joel Guth, the president of iQ Power Tools, assured me that I wouldn’t be disappointed in the blade and he was right. Having the vacuum system is great, but an additional benefit is that the blade stays cool from the air flow of the vacuum. The vacuum also removes cutting debris, which reduces friction and heat from the blade.
What’s even better is the fact that the folks at iQ Power Tools listen to the tile setters who are using the tool. The company has introduced an extension table since we are seeing so much more plank tile that seems to be getting ever-wider and longer (Photo 11). One thing the company heard installers say about the saw was that you couldn’t tilt the blade to cut 45-degree angle cuts. Well, the company has come out with a miter plate, and it’s well-built—not like some of the 45-degree miter plates that are short and barely hold a tile in place while trying to cut.
This miter plate fits the length of the cutting table and there are clamps on the plate that lock down the tile and have slots to fit the clamps for different-sized tile. Using the typical short 45-degree plates without any clamps makes it difficult to get a straight cut. The other item is a vacuum hose attachment for those small clean up jobs. The saw also comes with an integrated fold-down stand with wheels so it makes it easier to transport.
Tools can make you more money, but you must be willing to invest in them. While there is always a cheaper way to go in the short-term, once you use a quality tool, you’ll appreciate what it can do for you in the long run.