Tool Talk

The equipment builders need to drive bottom-line results.

By Cheryl Cullen, Contributing Editor | July 31, 2004


To actuate the Porta-Nailer, hit the ram of the nailer with a hammer. If the ram does not return to its upright position, hit the ram until it returns. When it does, the fastener is properly seated and the flooring is tightly driven together. It is a device that saves save time and labor, and the system ensures a quality installation.

Builder Gary Striegler, of Striegler and Associates Inc., says the one tool he simply couldn't live without is his nail gun. Striegler remembers his early days in the business when he had to drive finish nails by hand. He was reluctant to try a mechanical substitute at first, but now he wouldn't part with it because it gives him speed and quality - features builders want in all the tools they use.

Nail the Job
Senco Products Inc., which makes the FinishPro 41XP 15-gauge angled finish nailer, hopes to win over more people such as Striegler. "Our engineers took the best of our old SFN40 'true head' finish nailer and made it better," says Bill Womacks, national product manager. The FinishPro 41XP fastens baseboard, chair rail and crown molding; has the power to set interior pre-hung doors and windows, as well as hardwood treads for steps; and can be used with hardwood flooring.


The Paslode 18 gauge finish nailer is cordless, giving builders freedom of movement - around the jobsite, up and down ladders and scaffolds - without dragging air hoses and extension cords.
"In the last 20 years, pneumatic fastening tools have increased productivity for builders. This is no different," says Stanley Fastening Systems global product manager Dan Burgjohann of the Bostitch Cap Stapler. One-handed operation lets the builder hold the substrate in place and fasten it quickly, while the holding power keeps it there.

Installing hardwood flooring requires a nailer made especially for tongue-and-groove product. That's where the Porta-Nailer can help. The tool and nails are designed to ensure maximum tightness of flooring joints. Because of its serrated tooth design, it claims to keep the flooring in place for a lifetime.

"We have developed a floor nailing system in the form of one tool that will do it all," says Jerry D. Coleman Jr., Porta-Nails' president.

Speed and power are great, but maybe you like the ease of the old-fashioned hammer because you don't have to deal with cords. "Paslode Cordless tools combine the power and performance of pneumatic tools with the convenience and flexibility of no hoses, no air compressors and no hassles," says Wayne Thomsen, market manager of Paslode Cordless, ITW Paslode. "By not requiring the transportation, setup, cleanup and maintenance of compressors and hoses, Paslode Cordless tools reduce labor."

Staple It
Need to staple or tack roofing felt, carpet padding, vapor barrier, boxcar linings, crates and insulation? Check out the Arrow Professional T50 Staple Gun and the HT50 Professional Grade Heavy Duty Hammer Tacker. "These tools are the most versatile for a construction site," says Allan Abrams, president of Arrow Fastener Co. Inc. "These high-quality and non-jamming tools both are 10 times faster than a traditional hammer and nail, so you can accomplish more in less time."

For bigger applications, Stanley Fastening Systems makes the Bostitch Cap Stapler to secure house wrap around newly framed buildings. "Traditional applications involve the use of slap hammers," says Dan Burgjohann, global product manager. "But the small holding area of the fastener is weak, so the wrap can be blown off with a good wind."


HT50 Professional Grade
Heavy Duty Hammer Tacker is powerful, yet lightweight enough to carry on a tool belt. It also boasts a patented jam-proof mechanism that reduces downtime due to malfunctions.

The Bostitch Cap tool uses an 18-gauge staple through a 1-inch diameter plastic Bostitch Cap to increase holding power and distribute it onto the wrap. The same principle applies when the tool is used for felt-paper applications on roofs or for foam insulation applied beneath siding. "The Bostitch Cap keeps the protection in place - not in the neighbor's yard."

If the idea of a staple gun sounds good, but you don't want to give up your nail gun, consider the multi-functional Arrow ET2025 Electric Staple and Nail Gun. Three tools in one, this product uses flat crown staples, round crown staples and 5/8-inch brad nails. Use it to secure upholstery, insulation, cable and low-voltage wire. Flip it over and drive nails to repair furniture or install paneling.


The new Bosch 93618HDCRF-J 18-Volt 5-Piece Cordless Combo Kit allows builders to update their tool collection with a single purchase.
According to Jim Ray, president of McFeely's Square Drive Screws, the Festool ATF55 Plunge Cut Circular Saw "is fast, easy to use, deadly accurate and eliminates multiple setups."

Put the Screws to It
If nail guns reduce labor and speed productivity, the same can be said for screw systems such as the Senco DuraSpin Collated Screw System. This tool works with a variety of fasteners, according to new technology manager Dave Boyles, including collated drywall screws, interior-floor sheathing screws, backer-board screws, exterior wood screws, exterior composite deck screws, and light-gauge and heavy-gauge steel screws.

"In a time study by an independent time and motion firm, RSMeans, our DuraSpin products increased productivity by at least 30 percent," Boyles says. "In addition, screws used on drywall, floor sheathing and exterior decks won't back out, which reduces all those expensive callbacks."

Cut Time
The Festool ATF55 Plunge Cut Circular Saw also promises big labor savings. "It is incredibly versatile when combined with the Festool Guide Rail System or Multifunction Table," says Jim Ray, president of McFeely's Square Drive Screws.

To create a cleaner and healthier work site, Ray suggests the Festool CT 33 Dust Extractor. When connected directly to the Plunge Cut Circular Saw, it collects sawdust at the source.

A new cordless multi-tool kit from Bosch Power Tools makes it easy for builders to update their tool kit with a single purchase. The new Bosch 93618HDCRF-J 18-Volt Five-Piece Cordless Combo Kit includes a circular saw, reciprocating saw, hammer/drill driver, flashlight and bonus jigsaw.

Take a Powder
Powder-actuated fastening is used in home construction throughout the United States to fasten mudsills to concrete. The Simpson Strong-Tie PTP-27AL, a .27 caliber semi-automatic power actuated tool (PAT), uses strip loads and does not require any type of cycling or cocking.

"Builders can work quicker because they don't need to cycle the tool between fastenings," says Jason Liebreich, marketing manager at Simpson Strong-Tie Anchor Systems.

The PTP-27AL also features reduced noise and recoil, as compared with other PAT tools, and accepts a wide range of pins for almost any application. An adjustable power feature allows the user to dial in the proper fastener penetration into the concrete.

Routing Out Profits
Another flexible multi-purpose tool, the PKG0024 Router Table Combo Package System from Freud America Inc., serves as an all-in-one router, shaper and planer for finish carpenters. Use this complete and portable system in a variety of applications, such as moldings and edgings, raised panels and cabinetry.

"It's not always easy or even possible to bring your trim carpentry work to your shop," says Russell Kohl, Freud America vice president of sales and marketing, "so we've enabled carpenters to bring their cabinet or woodworking workshop to the job."

Tooling for Profits
Finding solutions to enhance builder profitability is what tool manufacturers do. "The name of the game is productivity," says Stanley Fastening Systems' Dan Burgjohann. "Tools don't affect the price of building materials, so their biggest contribution is labor savings. Application speed, flexibility and the ability to get things done right the first time are the surest ways to make the numbers at the top and bottom of the builder's profit-and-loss statement bigger."

"Tooling manufacturers have done an incredible job responding to what builders want," Striegler adds. "Amazingly, even as the tools have gotten better and better, prices have stayed relatively low. I can actually buy the same tool for the identical or lower price than I did 20 years ago. It is a matter of making tools more efficient."

Tool manufacturers are highly sensitized to customer needs. "Builders know their business better than anyone else," says Burgjohann. "They live the problems. Manufacturers listen and develop products to help solve those problems."


Related Categories

PB-Building Materials