Every year I travel to the World of Concrete trade show in Las Vegas to see the latest tools, gear, and equipment used for building and remodeling with concrete and masonry. The show’s target audience is largely commercial contractors, but since many of the same tools are used in all types of construction, there’s plenty here to interest guys who don’t pour acres of concrete. The show was last month, but I waited to report on it until I had the news everyone in the industry was holding their breath over: the issuance of OSHA’s new crystalline silica “dust” rule announced just this week.
Though it only halves the acceptable exposure level of the antiquated rule made way back in 1971, the big change is that the new rule requires the use of portable dust-collecting vacuums, larger dust collection ventilation systems, or water as the first line of defense when drilling, cutting, or grinding concrete and masonry. Employers can’t just tell everyone to put a respirator on and go about their work as usual. In fact, personal protective equipment (PPE) can only be relied on when the offending dust cannot be captured adequately by mechanical means.
With this precept as the foundation of the new rule, employers in the construction field can forego testing for crystalline silica exposure levels if they follow prescribed dust collection practices written for each type of task. Faced with the option of having an industrial hygienist on staff sampling and calculating 8-hour exposure levels for all the work on all of their sites versus following written procedures, I’ll bet that most folks will opt to go by the book and follow the new rules. Not to imply that everyone will be happy with the changes, but this will be the easier path to follow to compliance.
With the new OSHA “dust” rule pending during the World of Concrete show, the tool companies had their dust collection vacs, tools with integral vac ports, and accessory dust-collecting shrouds displayed front and center.
Here’s news on the new rule as paraphrased from OSHA’s announcement:
“Rule requires engineering controls to keep workers from breathing silica dust”
OSHA has issued a final rule to limit America’s workers’ exposure to respirable crystalline silica. The rule is comprised of two standards, one for Construction and one for General Industry and Maritime.
About 2.3 million workers are exposed to respirable crystalline silica in their workplaces, including 2 million construction workers who drill, cut, crush, or grind silica-containing materials such as concrete and stone. Responsible employers have been protecting workers from harmful exposure to respirable crystalline silica for years, using widely-available equipment that controls dust with water or a vacuum system.
• Reduces the permissible exposure limit (PEL) for respirable crystalline silica to 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air, averaged over an 8-hour shift.
• Requires employers to: use engineering controls (such as water or ventilation) to limit worker exposure to the PEL; provide respirators when engineering controls cannot adequately limit exposure; limit worker access to high exposure areas; develop a written exposure control plan, offer medical exams to highly exposed workers, and train workers on silica risks and how to limit exposures.
• Provides medical exams to monitor highly exposed workers and gives them information about their lung health.
• Provides flexibility to help employers — especially small businesses — protect workers from silica exposure.
Both standards contained in the final rule take effect on June 23, 2016, after which the construction industry will have one year after the effective date to comply with most requirements (by June 23, 2017).
The CSG15 is Bosch’s latest concrete surface grinder. It features a 12.5 amp motor with electronic control circuitry that provides soft starts, maintains constant speed under load, and provides protection against overloading. Its 5-inch wheel is surrounded by a dedicated dust collection shroud that slides open in front to grind flush against a wall.
Several of Bosch’s small angle grinders received stronger, upgraded motors and extra-long paddle switches that can be reached with a variety of grips. The switch—as seen here on the GWS10-45 4 1/2-inch grinder—is the entire area along the belly of the tool delineated by the black rubber grip. The tool is shown fitted with an accessory cutting shoe with an attached dust collection port.
This show provided the initial glimpse of Bosch’s first oscillating multi tool with the new Starlock blade system. Designed in cooperation with competitor Fein, the new blade mount replaces both Bosch’s existing OIS and Fein star shaped mounts. (For more on this topic, see the STAFDA 2015 report.)
Coming to Bosch’s 18-volt cordless lineup is a one-handed recip saw for convenient demo cutting while reaching or while holding materials steady with your other hand. The offset motor saw features a one-inch stroke, an LED headlight, a tool-free blade clamp, and a rigid fixed shoe. Curiously, just as Bosch’s 12-volt one-handed recip saw is a doppelganger of Milwaukee’s 12-volt saw, this saw too looks just like the red 18-volt model. I have a suspicion that they’re sharing the same designer – possibly a guy with only one hand.
Bosch claims that their new 36-volt RH328VC rotary hammer will out-drill anyone else’s cordless rotary hammer. That’s a big claim since there is some tough competition out there, but it shows their confidence. Next year Bosch will be coming out with a new 18-volt rotary hammer and they will push their 36-volt models even farther. Since Bosch feels like they mastered the 2 kilogram hammer class with the RH328VC, their next target is to make a capable 36-volt hammer in the 5 kg class.
Hilti held a press event at the show early on the coldest morning any of us had ever experienced in Las Vegas. There was hot food and coffee to help us brave the frosty conditions and we eventually warmed up with some cool tool demos. After proudly proclaiming this as Hilti’s 75th year in business, the show began with Hilti’s top brass explaining the company’s deep commitment to customer service, including a 20-year limited warranty, comprehensive fleet management and repair services, and the addition of their new “On! Track” asset management software. The gist of the subscription-based service is that mini RFID chips attached to a company’s tools make them easy to scan and track with a user’s mobile device, and that information is all stored in the cloud so the status can be accessed by others in the company.
After seeing a demo of the PLT 300–a $20K layout tool system that lets one operator lay out and verify data for the entire jobsite–we got our boots out of the cloud and back on solid ground for some more familiar tools. And despite the appeal of heavy equipment that could lift troublesome rush hour traffic off the highway with ease, the coveted award of The Coolest Thing at the Show goes to Hilti’s amazing new laser measuring device, the PD-C (see more below).
Holes drilled with a diamond core bit have smooth, almost polished sides. To give epoxied reinforcement and anchors better hold, Hilti developed the TE-YRT roughening tool. Basically, a drill bit with a flexible split end and abrasive bumps on the outside for scarifying the concrete surface along the sides of the hole.
Hilti has two new gas powered demo saws, the 70cc DSH 700-X shown here, and the beefier 90cc DSH 900-X. The smaller saw comes in 12- and 14-inch blade models, and the larger in 14- and 16-inch. Upgrades on the new models include Hilti’s “Easy Start” system which automatically sets the choke when cold starting the engine, so the user only has to pull the cord to get going. Heavy duty steel blade guards, built-in wheels, and a water feed system that hits both sides of the saws’ diamond blades are also notable features. To go with the saws, Hilti also has new diamond blades. A full line of blades that includes three different performance tiers are available in the North American market.
Maybe the name stands for pretty darn cool, I’m not sure, but I do know that I’m not one to go giddy over electronic gadgets but the Hilti PD-C laser measuring device really wowed me. With the unassuming appearance of a large smart phone or small tablet, this Android programmed device takes all sorts of measurements and lets you store them photographically–with the measurements showing up right on the photo. That’s the basic description, but I think the list of what the PD-C doesn’t do is shorter than the list of what it does. Distances, angles, calculated Pythagorean measurements are all documented photographically on the touch screen. But the amazing part is that you can touch points on the screen to get any measurement you want from the image after it is stored, in effect, letting you go back in time and get additional readings without having to visit the site again.
How it works is actually quite simple, both conceptually and mathematically. The device takes a digital photograph, taking 20-30 measurements on the point its laser hits to verify the distance. With the distance from the lens known, the device then calculates the up and down and side to side distances via the included angle of the lens optics. After that, any two points on the screen can be measured simply by counting the pixels between them. Since the zoom feature is digital, the device has the same accuracy at any zoom level. For these two-dimensional calculations to be accurate, the image you are working from should be a straight-on shot, perpendicular to the surface and with the device held level. The device sees images as a flat surface so to take measurements on surfaces behind or in front of the plane the laser focused on when it snapped the photo, take additional images of each plane with the laser squarely aimed. The PD-C is accurate to +/- 1 millimeter up to a distance of 200 meters and is Bluetooth connected so you can send information to another device. Look for it to hit the market this June or July for $1,000.
Besides the many new tools I covered in my last STAFDA show report, Makita also had some new cordless models geared for commercial contractors like their rebar cutter along with several new brushless motor tools including a line of high torque impact wrenches, a metal-cutting circ saw, and an upcoming 5-inch angle grinder. And I also got a closer look at the new brushless motor recip saws with vertical crank arms and the not-so-commercial X2 battery powered lawnmower. I think it’s safe to say that this was the smallest piece of earthmoving or landscaping equipment at the entire show. Makita also had some interesting consumable accessories to show such as cup wheels with an anti-vibration rubber ring built into the hub to reduce chatter, and new diamond blades designed for cutting steel with demo saws.
Heres the new recip saw we didn’t see close up at STAFDA, Makita’s XRJ06. Like the rest of X2 line of tools that fit two 18-volt batteries, it’s considered a 36-volt tool. Besides the added oomph, it shares the rest of its specs with the new 18-volt XRJ05 model— brushless motor with two-speed transmission, 0-3,000 strokes per minute, 1 1/4-inch stroke length, adjustable shoe, and a steel hanging hook.
Makita’s new XWT08 1/2-inch drive impact wrench boasts 740 ft-lbs of tightening torque and 1,180 ft-lbs of breakaway torque in reverse, and the 3/4-inch drive model XWT07 is rated at 780 and 1,250 ft-lbs respectively. There is also an impact drill with 7/16-inch hex bit holder for driving self-feeding bits and large auger bits. All three brushless motor tools have three maximum speed/power settings to better control the torque output.
The Makita XCS01 can bite through up to rebar up to #6 in a few seconds. The head pivots 360 degrees for better reach and the blade is designed to last through 4,000 cuts.
The Makita XSC02 metal cutting circ saw features a brushless motor and a 5 7/8-inch blade that can cut through 2-inch conduit—a job not able to be done by the previous 5 3/8-inch blade model. For smaller cuts, the saw also fits the smaller blade size which may be easier to find.
Expected to come out in late 2016, Makita’s XAG09 silde switch and XAG10 paddle switch models will be the brand’s first 5-inch cordless angle grinders. Like the 4 1/2-inch grinders introduced last year, the new models will have brushless motors that continuously monitor the torque output and onboard battery fuel gauges, but the new motor brakes will be faster.
Though small and mild-mannered, battery powered outdoor power equipment like Makita’s 36-volt X2 mower has the power to change the way much of the population will be working outdoors in the near future.
Since Skilsaw became the professional tool branch of Skil Power Tools, the new brand has been busy adding saws to their lineup. In the tradition of the original Skilsaw, several worm drive saws are available in aluminum or lighter weight magnesium models, with or without blade brakes, in 7 1/4-, 8 1/4-, and 10 1/4-inch blade models. A line of blade-right Sidewinder models are also being made. Note the capitalization of the word Sidewinder; it seems that Robert Bosch Tool Corporation–the parent company of Skil and Skilsaw–holds the trademark on this oft-used term.
Most of the saws sold to the commercial market come with upgraded Diablo blades, but versions with Skilsaw blades will be sold through some dealers. The suffix -22 at the end of a model number means the saw comes with a Diablo blade, -01 for a Skilsaw blade, and -72 indicates a model with Diablo blade and a twist lock cord.
Skilsaw’s new 7 1/4-inch blade fiber cement saw features a 4-tooth HardieBlade by Diablo. The integral dust collection port connects to an included vac hose fitted with a special nylon sleeve to protect prefinished fiber cement materials from being abraded by the vac hose or the power cord.
Skilsaw just introduced the world’s first worm drive table saw. With its 10-inch blade, this compact saw can cut 3 1/2 inches deep, has a rip capacity of 25 inches, and features a simple-yet-sturdy optional folding stand.
Metal cutting chop saws are new to the Skilsaw lineup and include a 14-inch bonded abrasive wheel model (SPT 64 MTA-01), and a dry cut model with a 12-inch ceramic-metallic (cermet) tooth blade (SPT 62 MTC-22).
Stihl TSA 230 Cutquik saw[/caption]
Stihl’s battery powered cut-off saw is still the only one I’ve seen. The saw comes with a 9-inch diamond blade and a water-feed system with an onboard valve. The 2 3/4-inch depth of cut is enough to slice through landscaping bricks and pavers. When fitted with a bonded abrasive wheel, the saw can also be used to cut metal. Recent upgrades include a new depth-guide shoe and integral dust collection port required for dry cutting.
Stihl’s new battery powered blower is their most effective blower available – capable of outperforming even their corded electric and gas models. While not the tool for moving concrete dust out of your way, these handheld tornadoes are great for clearing the deck of sawdust and debris on a residential job site, and of course, landscapers seem to get a little use out of them too. A contractor could get by with a regular battery but a landscaper will likely need the backpack battery shown here.
Pullman-Holt / Ermator
I imagine business is looking up for Pullman-Holt / Ermator and other manufacturers of high efficiency vacuums made for the construction and abatement/remediation industries since more builders and remodelers will now be incorporating vacs in their work with concrete and masonry materials. Besides HEPA vacs for picking up dry materials, the company also makes slurry vacs for collection of water and debris from wet cutting and grinding operations.
Pullman-Holt is the division of Ermator that includes their smaller and simpler portable HEPA vacuums such as the popular model 45 series.
Claimed to be the single largest manufacturer of HEPA filters, Ermator is the brand name used on the company’s pricier machines, including their dust extractors (which differ from vacuums by containing debris in disposable bags rather than in a canister).
The model 45 series of vacs from Pullman-Holt share the same motor and filtration system, but vary as to tank size, wet or dry pickup capability, and the option of a tool-triggered switch. Standout features include a powerful 2-hp motor and a simple-yet-effective fabric cover over the filter which sheds dust off its smooth surface instead of letting the dust get sucked into the filter pleats where it is more difficult to remove.
The S13 and on size larger S26 HEPA dust extractors are among Ermator’s most popular models worldwide and feature three-stage dust collection including a cyclonic separator, a conical main filter, and a HEPA filter. An air pulse feature blows the main filter clean during use to keep the airflow of the unit up.
An especially innovative feature found on some Ermator dust extractors is their Longopac bag—a 72 foot long continuous tubular bag that is used not unlike a sausage casing. When a bag section is full, you seal off the top (and the bottom of the next section just above that) with zip ties, cut the full section off for disposal, and feed a few more feet of the bag down. This way, the user is never exposed to the dust and debris in the bags.
A wide range of aftermarket dust collection accessories are available to connect many brands of grinders and other tools to vacuum or dust extractor hoses. This way even older tools without integral dust ports can be used in accordance with the new silica dust rules.
At a show full of giant motorized equipment, it’s refreshing to see a booth of quality hand tools. Nothing is more near and dear to a builder’s or remodeler’s heart than his trusty hammer, and if it’s a hammer that can help reduce repetitive stress injuries, so much the better. Stiletto titanium hammers were developed to reduce elbow aches for longtime framers and they remain the premium brand of choice for many pros. The benefits of titanium are twofold; the lightweight hammers swing fast, and the stiffness of the metal allows it deliver more of the energy of the swing to the nail without the stinging vibration caused by the minute compression of a standard steel head.
Besides the flagship all-titanium hammers that are still made in the USA (pictured right), Stiletto also manufactures more affordable models with titanium heads and wood or composite handles.
As brutal as the life of a framing hammer is, every advantage counts. Stiletto’s latest black composite handle–as shown on this model TI14MCF 14 oz. framing hammer–is made of glass-filled nylon are designed to be longer lasting than the brand’s previous gray composite handles.
Blaklader is the Swedish clothing brand that made it cool to wear “techie” work pants. At the very least, they’re the brand that made many of us aware of Scandinavian-styled work clothes in the first place. Their booth is always riotous fun with loud music and a line of guys (and gals) competing to see who can hang from the legs of a pair of suspended Blaklader pants the longest. And hanging just behind the sideshow were racks of really stylish work pants and jackets with foreign flair and tons of practical features.
The cotton and cordura work jeans that premiered at last year’s show made it into the US catalog and have become a hot seller. Last year they were nicknamed the “$100 work jeans”, but now they’re simply called the 1659. Available in blue denim and black denim.
As a longtime wearer of Keen work boots and shoes and a big fan of the brand’s unique style and fit, I was happily surprised to find their booth at the show. It was their first time in attendance and the crew seemed to be pretty busy showing guys who spend all day on their feet the benefits of wearing boots that are shaped like their feet.
Keen is calling this spring their “season of the soft toe” with a lot more of their models being made available without protective toe caps for people who prefer work shoes and boots that cross over easily on the weekends for more casual or sporting uses.
New this spring is the Omaha model, filling the need for a work boot at a bit lower price point than the most popular Keen models. Available in mid-height, lows, and lows with soft toe for about $140, $130, and $120 respectively.
That’s it for our coverage of the 2016 World of Concrete. Stay tuned to Home Fixated for ongoing tool reviews and industry news!