Indoors and Out
Whether it's fencing and fasteners or LED lighting and a heavy duty cordless reciprocating saw, these new products are sure to make life on the job a little less difficult
How would you like to install temporary, or semi-permanent safety fencing, in under 5 minutes? The Canadian invention Rapid Roll allows just that, and you can take it down in less than 4 minutes, while keeping the fencing protected from damage during storage and transport. You might think of it as a window blind, stood on its edge. The core of the system is a container with a crank on the top that rolls in the fencing and allows it to be pulled out in a one-man operation. Special corner poles let the fencing slide along defining your perimeter, then you hook it onto the posts for a straight and secure barrier. It is designed specifically for the tough use of a construction site with no clamps, bolts or clips to get lost. The 50- or 100-foot rolls can be combined end-to-end for larger areas.
They even have a kit that they call "All-in-one hazard containment ready to roll" with 4 posts, 4 bases and the fencing cartridge on wheels for really rapid deployment. Their website at www.RapidRoll.ca is slow but very clear and through.
I'll Be Hog-Tied
One of the problems of dealing with fencing of many kinds, from security fencing to snow fencing, is attaching sheets end to end. If you find yourself working with tie-wraps or a roll of wire and pliers, you should take a look at what DeWalt did to a fastener originally used for hogs on the farm. A "hog ring" is kind of like a curved heavy duty staple that squeezes into a closed ring. Any open mesh that needs to be joined can be secured with a hog ring.
DeWalt's P7DW Hog Ring Pliers Kit holds the rings like a staple gun, but rather than stapling to something, the two sides of the jaw close the staple into a solid ring right around the two strands you want to attach together. Snow fencing has never been this simple to join and galvanized Hog Rings have found their place of honour on construction sites.
Cut the Cord
After visiting the DeWalt new tool unveiling for journalists a few issues back, this month is was Milwaukee's turn to strut their new stuff with construction trade journalists from all over North America. Before even allowing us journalists the chance to get our hands on their new offerings, they announced that this year they have reached their goal to "Cut The Cord." What does that mean? It means that in their heavy duty category they have a full range of cordless 18-volt tools that have power and performance equal or superior to equivalent corded tools and that only the most demanding of tools, like the new 7-1/4" circular saw and the new Sawzall Recip Saw, will require a battery change-out at lunch time; the rest will run all day on a single charge.
Of course a major element of this new power and work time is the fact that Milwaukee now joins other major manufactures with a 5.0 amp hour fuel battery, theirs specifically designed to handle more heat than most. Their real focus was not the competition but the corded tool itself. To get that edge over the corded tools, they produced new motors and electronic controls matched to this new battery.
Did they succeed in cutting the cord? I believe that every critical journalist there, after working with the tools themselves, felt that these new cordless full-size 18-volt tools had power equivalent to quality corded tools, even Milwaukee's own corded tools-and their side-by-side work tests with a single charge showed them out performing competitive cordless tools while getting a day's work done.
For years I have hesitated about trying to take cordless too far, especially with something like a power demanding demolition recip saw. I hate climbing into the far reaches of a house only to have to come back to get a charged battery, or with 36-volt power, I didn't want to drag that weight up a ladder. But now I have to begrudgingly concede that Milwaukee has in fact "cut the cord" on a full range of 18V tools.
LED Still In The Limelight
When laser beams first came out, they were expensive and unreliable-as were LED lights when they first came out-but now lasers are reliably everywhere. In the last issue I talked about LED taking over security power-out lights and now we are seeing LED taking over worksite task lighting.
Of course the big benefit is low power so they can run on standard power tool batteries, and low heat to sidestep any danger of fire. DeWalt has a nice little 20V Max Hand-Held area work light the DCL050. Projecting either 250 or 500 lumens it gives out serious light with a hanging hook, the battery being the floor stand and the light tilting to a 140º angle adjustment. No filament or fluorescent lamp has the rugged build of this job site torchlight.
Even Batteries Need To Be Plugged In
While I am talking about electricity, how about a simple plug multiplier with swivel sockets, allowing for plugging in all those small transformers we are stuck with and two USB outlets to boot. It is made by Task and called "360 Electrical" T43401: 4 rotating outlets with surge protection on a 15A circuit.
And on the heavy duty end there is the Task 52 foot 12 AWG 20A auto rewind model which has fixed outlets that don't turn when winding and over current protection. Add to that a reciprocating auto rewind wire guide to keep things winding smoothly. No more tangled cords. Useful items from www.Task-Tools.com. In most renovation centres.
New Gas Can Laws Are Proving Frustrating
Batteries are great but we still use gas power on most construction sites.
Recently Canada followed the U.S. in banning gasoline cans that have air vents on them. Several good motivations created this legislation that has outraged many citizens: less gas evaporating into the atmosphere from hot standing cans; no more gas accumulation via vapours in closed spaces where this has on occasion led to explosions; recuperating vapour from the equipment tank during filling. Some of the complaints were control flow necks that had to be forced down to get flow making it a three hand operation and not being able to see the gas level, ballooning gas tanks threatening to explode and spraying of gas all over people when they opened the pressurized cans.
Although YouTube experts are bypassing the laws installing vents on cans that no longer have them, that won't do for a secure construction site. One problem is that few manufacturers seem to be working to develop new technology that solves the old problems, satisfies current legislation, and avoids all the new problems.
Here is one that appears to have broken through the impasse: the "No Spill" gas can. There is no vent cap, as per legislation. You don't unscrew the cap at all, just pop off the dust protector. Put the spout into the tank to be filled and push the button on the other end. Any extra can pressure goes into the tank, not all over your clothes; gas flows freely; and it is easy to see the filling level. Release the button and it all stops-or just keep it going and it stops by itself as soon as the level reaches the spout. Replace the dust cap. Simple and efficient.
The secret to stopping by itself is that it draws its air in from the gas tank (recuperating VOC fumes at the same time) and when it can draw in no more air, it puts out no more gas. It even stops while properly filling a tiny shot glass!
There is also a transparent stripe on two sides of the can that allow you to see exactly how much gas is in the can-available from small to large gas cans. The problem is that for the moment you have to buy it on the web from the U.S. You might want to ask you lumber yard to stock it. www.NoSpill.com
Blade Of The Month
When you want to cut through sheet metal, not slam into something on the other side as you break through and spit out the disk automatically you might want to try the Milwaukee Shockwave Thin Wall bi-metal hole saw. Shockwave means it is made for use with an impact driver and that stop rim keeps the rapid aggressive cut under control. The exceptionally thin wall is what makes it 40% faster at making burr-free cuts than standard bi-metal hole saws and cutting less metal makes it last longer than most.
Montreal-based TV broadcaster, author, home renovation and tool expert
Jon Eakes provides a tool feature in each edition of Home BUILDER.