What happens in Vegas doesn’t necessarily stay in Vegas, not when it’s news from the World of Concrete 2017 trade show anyway. I’d share everything I saw at this wonderland of concrete and construction tools, gear, and supplies if I could. In the space allotted, I’ll cover most of the highlights, including some of the latest tools and products from DeWalt, Bosch, Makita, Hilti, Metabo, Stihl, Keen, Carhartt, Arbortech, Blaklader and more!
World of Concrete 2017 – Dusty Days are Numbered
Last year could be characterized as “the show of wondering what to do if the new OSHA regulations regarding worker exposure to crystalline silica passed”. But since the rule was finalized shortly thereafter, it made this year all business with regards to collecting concrete and masonry dust at its source. The countdown to enforcement day (June 23, 2017) provides a deadline-driven marketing opportunity for tool companies eager to outfit all of the late adopters out there with dust-collecting tools and accessories.
The most important hardware for collecting concrete and masonry dust at its source include dry vacs and wet slurry vacs, and dust collection shrouds or boots fitted to the working end of drilling, breaking, and grinding tools. Some specialized accessories are also becoming more popular such as water-feed systems that retrofit onto existing tools and hollow concrete-boring drill bits that attach to a vac for efficiently evacuating dust from a hole the instant it’s being generated. For the most part, these tools and accessories aren’t new, they’re just being taken seriously by a wider range of users due to the impending OSHA regulations.
Cordless tools are trendier than ever and one of the trends Makita popularized was using two battery packs instead of one for greater power. Instead of requiring users to buy into a new battery and charger system for the brand’s growing line of 36-volt tools, the X2 line, as it is called, utilizes two 18-volt battery packs. The same packs that Makita has been making for a decade or so and that work with over 150 tools in Makita’s current collection.
The brand new XSR01 circular saw was released fresh for this show and is the first cordless inline circ saw available. Called inline because the motor is parallel to the blade versus the perpendicular motor of the more common “sidewinder” circ saws. Many saws of this configuration are called worm-drive saws named after the transmission gearing, but Makita’s corded saws use a hypoid gear and this new cordless one has what is being called a “hectile” drive. Gearing specifics aside, it’s a really nice inline saw with lots of power for heavy duty job site work. Makita let show-goers use it alongside their mightiest corded saws in thick rip cutting and a lot of surprised and satisfied looks seemed to prove its worth.
This X2 tool requires two 18-volt battery packs, weighs in around 12 pounds, and cuts at a brisk 5,100 rpm. The saw takes a full-size 7 1/4-inch blade to provide the depth of cut (2 9/16 inches) to handle 3-by lumber. Available in March, 2017 for $199 as a bare tool, and also in a kit with two batteries and a dual charger.
For collecting concrete dust on the go, Makita offers a small cordless backpack HEPA vac, the XCV05. This 36-volt vac is sized for collecting dust generated when boring holes with a rotary hammer. When paired up with a cordless rotary hammer, a worker becomes a fully mobile anchor-drilling machine with no cords to slow him or her down.
As a genuine chain saw enthusiast, it was gratifying to try out Makita’s latest 36-volt X2 saw amid a show full of concrete tools. A rear handle saw was missing from Makita’s cordless line and the new XCU03Z saw fills the bill nicely. Along with the requisite safety feature of an active chain brake, (you shouldn’t use a saw without one), the saw also has premium features like steel bumper spikes, tool-free bar and chain adjustment, and an adjustable oiler. To comply with the latest safety regulations regarding triggers, the saw has a separate On switch so the trigger and trigger lockout button could be made more comfortable to use. The switch automatically turns off after 10 seconds of non-use which also adds a factor of safety to the tool when carrying it around or packing it in and out of your truck with the batteries left in.
The saw cuts at a respectable 66 feet per minute and comes standard with a 14-inch bar fitted with Oregon 90 chain. The saw will sell for $259 as a bare tool, and for $369 in a kit with two 5.0 Ah battery packs and a dual charger. Rest assured, Makita is assuredly not resting when it comes to developing more cordless outdoor power equipment (OPE), which is poised to be the fastest growing segment of the cordless tool market going forward. I’m excited about the developments I heard about for the next new saw…stay tuned!
Like a few other European tool companies, Bosch is making their latest and greatest battery packs with high density lithium ion cells with higher amp hour ratings. Besides the higher amp hours (Ah) translating into longer runtimes, we’re told that the more robust, premium cells also can also deliver more power at the same time. For tools that don’t need more power like work lights and other low-draw tools, the electronics in the Bosch tools communicate with the battery pack to modify the current output required. In this case, the extra juice will all translate into longer runtime.
Like in previous Bosch “Cool Pack” batteries, the individual cells are isolated from each other in plastic sleeves to both protect and cool the cells, and the batteries are connected with laser-welded contacts for durability. These latest 18-volt batteries are available in compact 3.1 Ah packs and in full-size 6.3 Ah packs with a list price of $149 each for the latter.
A new-school cordless recip saw with a funky bent shape really stood out in the Bosch booth. Designed for improved ergonomics, the GSA18V-125 features a long handle that allows for multiple grip angles to help keep the user’s wrist straight. A long rocking trigger made to match can be reached from the top or rear of the handles. The curve of the handle even lets you use the saw one handed with more control than a standard D-handle.
The new saw features an internal counterweight pendulum to reduce vibration, and three orbital settings consisting of two orbit sizes as well as non-orbital mode. Other features include an adjustable shoe to maximize blade life and a giant-sized blade release lever between the tool body and the shoe that can be managed with even the thickest of work gloves. Coming in April, 2017, the saw will be sold as a bare tool for $299.
Bosch’s version of hollow concrete bits is named Speed Clean. The bits have small holes between the carbide cutters and larger holes through the far end of the shank open to a vacuum attachment port. Besides providing silica dust collection at the source to comply with OSHA regs, the finished holes are clean enough to install anchors in without any further cleanup procedure required. Another benefit of dust collecting bits is that the lack of dust in the hole keeps bits running cooler and with less abrasion for longer bit life.
Hilti had its annual press event at the World of Concrete 2017 show to catch us up with what they’ve been doing since last year, along with feeding us breakfast and coffee. It looks like a busy year ahead as the company will be releasing 75 new products in 2017, that’s up from 35 last year.
The most notable announcements among their smaller scale tools included several updates to their cordless tool line. For one, the naming convention of their standard size tools will change from 18-volt to 22-volt. The Hilti packs have always had an extra cell per row which makes them add up to 21.6 volts, but in the past Hilti chose to adopt the more common 18-volt designation used in the US market. Now that anything goes with voltage claims among many brands, and also due to the fact that these same tools have always been called 22-volt in the rest of the world, Hilti has chosen to simplify their designation.
Along with a few other European tool manufacturers, Hilti is offering new premium battery packs made with high density lithium ion cells with increased amp-hour (Ah) ratings. Significant leaps in runtimes are claimed with these cells as the latest chemistry and electronics together allow the cells both deeper charge and deeper discharge limits. Hilti’s full size 22-volt pack (21.6 if you’re counting) is rated at 5.2 Ah, and the compact at 2.6 Ah. The new and old battery packs, regardless of named voltage or cell grade, will remain backwards and forward compatible with tools in the series.
Among the updated tools in the cordless line, the latest version of the SID4 impact driver features three speed/power settings and has four headlights surrounding the bit holder. The upgraded LEDs are said to be 13 times brighter than the previous ones. If I did my math correctly, that’s 48 more than before. Or is it 52?…Wait…
The brand’s latest cordless hammerdrill/driver, the Hilti SF6HA22, is a few inches shorter in head length than its predecessor and has an invaluable wrist-saving safety feature especially welcome in a high-torque drill. An electronic position sensor in the handle of the tool cuts the motor if a high rate of acceleration is detected, such as when the bit binds and the handle begins to whip around the opposite direction.
For dust management when using gas powered demolition saws, Hilti released a water feed system that fits the Hilti DSH700 and DSH900 series saws. The DSH-P has its own portable pump unit that can feed out of a reservoir as small as a bucket so pressurized water out of a hose is not needed. The accessory connects to a saw via a retrofit side guard with the requisite plumbing run through it.
The focus in the DeWalt booth was really about dust collection; showing off dust-collecting shrouds and boots attached to existing concrete and masonry working tools. If it’s yellow and black and chips, breaks, drills, or grinds concrete, DeWalt probably has a dust solution available.
And if you have one of their first-gen DeWalt DWV012 HEPA vacs and need new filters for it, they are discontinued but there is a fix. An easy conversion kit allows you to use the filters that all DeWalt HEPA vacs now come with. Just ask for the DeWalt #5140174-71 part number.
Along with the brand’s dust collection solutions, DeWalt made a good showing with select tools from their recently released 60-volt cordless FlexVolt lineup such as their heavy duty hammerdrill / driver, rotary hammer, right-angle grinder, 7 1/4-inch circ saw, and their monster right-angle drill.
Metabo was the first tool company we knew of to adopt high density lithium ion cells for their premium cordless tool battery packs, and they’re putting them to good use in their heavy duty tools. A brand new strategy for Metabo is to offer their scant 36-volt offerings (only two right now) in single or dual battery options. It’s less trouble to pop in one 36-volt pack, but not as many users have these batteries and chargers so the models that fit two of the brand’s 18-volt packs may be the way the market goes here in the US, we’ll see. The 36-volt tools to-date include a 1 1/4-inch rotary hammer and the world’s largest-capacity cordless right angle grinder that powers 9-inch grinding and cutoff wheels like it was a corded tool.
Since they are so famous for their industrial grinders, Metabo also has a full line of dust-collecting grinder shrouds purpose-built for their tools. For some tools, there are top-of-the-line as well as standard-grade shroud accessories that can fit the same tool, depending on a user’s needs.
The last big news about Skilsaw was that it and sister brand Skil were sold to Chervon back in August by previous owner Bosch. Despite the change in ownership, it’s still business as usual for Skilsaw which focuses solely on the professional end of the business.
The new news is the Skilsaw Medusaw SPT79-00, claimed to be the first worm-drive saw for concrete (and masonry I assume). The guts of the saw share the specs of the brand’s other “mag” worm-drive saws such as 15-amp motor, 5,300 rpm blade rate, and magnesium construction throughout the housing, shoe, and guard. But where it differs is in where the magnesium hits the road, so to speak. You can use almost any circ saw outfitted with the proper blade to score control joints or demo borders in concrete, and I have, but it’s a real performance compromise. The shoe wears excessively from contact with the concrete, the cut marker is difficult to see, and you end up working in a cloud of soon-to-be-illegal dust. For $399, the Medusaw will do it right with a wheeled undercarriage sans lower guard that get in the way, a fold-down guide wheel to line up with your cut line well ahead of the saw, and both a water feed inlet and vacuum port for clean cutting wet or dry. It also has a plunge-cutting lock for accuracy and a GFCI cord for safety. It fits a 7-inch blade but comes without one so you can get the exact blade you need for your material.
Stihl’s line of new pressure washers was lined up across the middle of their booth, from the 2,500 psi RB200 up to the 4,200 psi RB800. Expect these pressure washers and a full line of attachments and accessories to be available in Spring 2017.
Need to add a selection of reputable vacs to your product line in a hurry and have some capital? The big news from Husqvarna construction tools division was their very recent purchase of the Pullman-Ermator and Pullman-Holt brands of commercial vacuums a week prior. In fact, the paint was probably still wet on the orange painted vacs that debuted at the World of Concrete 2017 show. To start, Husqvarna is adopting 13 of the more popular HEPA dust vacs and slurry vacs as their own while the Pullman-Ermator and Pullman-Holt brands will continue doing business as usual in their existing sales channels.
A feature of the HEPA vacs which impresses me greatly is the Longopac bag dispenser which keeps workers protected from the collected dust and debris while emptying the vacs. Essentially an endless tubular bag like a sausage casing, the Longopac gets pinched closed with two zip ties above the debris and the bag is cut away between the ties for disposal. The top tie then becomes the seal at the bottom of the next bag as the next few feet of the bag is dispensed. Simple and ingenious.
If you need a serious yet portable wet vac / slurry vac, Husqvarna’s W70P has commercial features not found in typical wet vacs. Namely a sizeable evacuation pump. The internal pump can move up to 69 gallons of liquid per minute with a maximum lift of 30 feet. The pump can be run along with the vac to for continuous cleanup without interruption or the pump can be used periodically to empty the vac when the 15 gallon tank is full. Either way, you don’t have to manhandle a heavy tank of liquid or slurry to empty it.
Arbortech was at the show with the latest version of their special brick and mortar saw, the Arbortech Allsaw AS170, which features a stronger and more durable motor. The Arbortech saw makes plunge cuts into masonry with a unique dual-blade reciprocating action. Carbide-toothed cutters of different configurations let users carefully saw out mortar between bricks, chase caulk out of joints, and plunge cut deep into block and brick. I’ve even used mine with a general purpose blade for carefully grinding away small tree stumps several inches below grade. A built-in shroud at the business end connects to a vac for dust collection.
Long known as a maker of pruners, axes, and other outdoor tools, Fiskars has since branched out into hammers, snips, and other builder’s tools. Among their standouts are heavy duty sledge hammers with tough composite handles built to survive the job site. A signature tool in my opinion is one the brand designed after watching how guys modified their tools in the field, a short handled sledge hammer with a full size head. For working in confined spaces like trenches and crawlspaces where concrete forms are often located, this hammer packs a full-sized wallop but with a shorter swing. And the hammer measures 24 inches overall to help mark out a common width of footer forms while leaving your tape in your pouch and out of the mud.
Lighter and faster is the motto of some of Keen Utility’s latest work shoes. The new Asheville and Raleigh low models feature athletic styling and colors along with lightweight aluminum protective toe caps instead of steel.
The latest work boot from the brand is also surprisingly light. The Davenport mid is a hiker-styled, medium duty boot with plastic composite toes to reduce weight. Available with all leather or leather and mesh uppers.
Along with the constant progression of new footwear and the addition of more women’s work styles, Keen Utility is especially proud that more and more of their products are being put together in the USA in their Portland, Oregon production facility.
For high-quality workwear with a Scandinavian flair, look to Blaklader. The brand first stood out in the US market with pants that had a nail and tool pocket apron around the waist, but now that hardcore work feature only comes as an option on select styles to appeal to a wider variety of wearers.
The new model Blaklader 1690 pants coming this spring will feature summer-weight 7-oz. ripstop fabric and a diamond gusset of stretchy fabric in the crotch for maximum flexibility. Though made to work, these pants will likely replace the heavier Cordura-reinforced denim model 1659 pants that I have raved about in years past as my warm weather tool-traveling pants of choice. Available in stylish black and priced at $80.
As for jackets, a popular seller has been the casual looking Blaklader 4940 jacket, made of stretchy 11-oz. knit fabric in light grey or black for $85. For protecting against wet weather, the soft shell, breathable wind and waterproof Blaklader 4939 jacket has been a best seller. Though made of thin 9-oz. polyester, one of the fabric’s three layers is a microfleece lining for warmth. Available in gray or black for $110, and in a gray hoodless version, the Blaklader 4957.
Thick, heavy cotton canvas or duck has been the traditional fabric of workwear, but new-technology textiles are being added to improve performance. A good example of this synergy can be found in Carhartt’s latest jackets and coats with what they call “Full Swing” features. Made primarily of cotton duck outside, the garments have flexible internal segments in the elbows, under the arms, and between the shoulders which allow greater freedom of movement. Available in fire-resistant (FR) and non-FR styles in Carhartt brown or dark navy.
Carhartt’s “Force” fabrics feature moisture-wicking properties and among the hottest sellers of these products designed to keep you cool is the Force FR cotton hybrid shirt. For workers required to wear a collared shirt, this hybrid sneaks in the comfort of jersey t-shirt material with all the styling cues of a woven fabric shirt.
That’s it for now from World of Concrete 2017 in Las Vegas. Stay tuned to HomeFixated.com for upcoming reviews and coverage on some of the great tools and gear hightlighted here. And, if you’re not already following us on social media, find our social accounts in the top right so you can be the first to see great new tools, gear, woodworking and more.