Welcome again from sunny Las Vegas, where the tool-crazed journalists all travel in the depths of winter. But it’s not just the sunny warmth we seek, it’s really all about the tools, gear, and building technology showcased at the 2019 World of Concrete (WOC) trade show. From the latest in job site drone surveillance of your employees and subs, to a plain old jackhammer (albeit now equipped with worldwide-enabled GPS locating hardware), this is the place to reset your knowledge of the current state of construction tools and equipment. And unlike other expositions, the World of Concrete features a huge outdoor area so it’s the best place to get your hands on many of the bigger and messier tools and try them out. In this, its 44th year, the WOC show had over 60,500 registered attendees and featured more than 1,500 exhibiting companies. Of course I can never see all of it, but here are some of the highlights.
World of Concrete 2019 Tools
When I think about the World of Concrete show, I think of Hilti. They hold an annual media event there to showcase their latest and greatest. And since they’re not part of STAFDA, this is usually the best place to get caught up on everything Hilti. Including giant industrial machines like their show-stopping diamond abrasive cable cutter and wall cutters that I never see demonstrated anywhere else.
Let’s start with a real eye-catcher, the new SC 60W-A36 rear-handle cordless circ saw. We created a little buzz about this saw when a photo of it was leaked at a Hilti media event last fall, but now it’s here. The off-the-record prototype we got to handle last year was just a dummy, but since then the saw has Pinocchio-ed into a real saw at last.
Besides the brushless motor and 7 1/4” blade you expect to find on a premium construction saw, the tool also has a newly-designed framing blade and a sliding lock-off switch that doesn’t require the use of two (or more) fingers to operate the saw like those with a secondary thumb lever by the trigger. This particular feature helps you use the saw easier in a variety of hand positions, whether right- or left-handed. One early criticism of the saw is the no-load rpm speed being below some competitors, but to that Hilti said that the computer chip-controlled brushless motor allows the tools to keep up its speed under load.
As part of Hilti’s heavy duty cordless line, the saw is powered by their 36-volt battery packs. Though the saw comes standard with a 5.2 amp-hour (Ah) pack, it’s also a good fit for the brand’s latest 9.0 Ah (nominal) pack, one of the largest capacity power tool batteries available now.
Another standout tool from Hilti is their first SDS Max cordless combihammer, the 36-volt TE 60-A36. This large, three-mode rotary hammer comes standard with the new 9.0 Ah battery pack which gives it drilling power and speed on par with the brand’s corded TE60 combihammer, (we watched them race head-to-head). It serves as another good example of cordless tools being able to replace corded for ever larger tasks on the job site.
Optimized for tools like the new cordless combihammer are Hilti’s latest concrete bits. The new line of TE-YX bits feature 6 carbide cutters on the head for more efficient drilling with claims of 30% greater application speed and 50% longer life. The bits are made to fit in SDS Max tools, but since that term was coined by competitor Bosch, Hilti prefers to use its own designation TE-Y. Thus the name TE-YX bits. The bits come with a warranty—quite rare among concrete bits, and will be replaced as long as they are not too worn out. How is that determined? Grooves along the perimeter of the bit’s flutes tell the story. If the groove is still visible, the bit is still warranted. After that, the bit is too worn to make the correct diameter hole for anchors and is beyond its useful life.
Since I mentioned large wall saws, here’s Hilti’s new one. The DST 20-CA electric is claimed to be the first in its class that doesn’t need a power box to regulate its 480-volt three-phase supply. The integrated electronics simplify the saw’s setup and keep the weight of the saw head down to 71 pounds. The saw can be programmed for overall depth of cut, the depth of each pass, and the rpm of the 31” blade via the wireless remote control unit, which also provides real-time monitoring of the saw’s operating parameters. Once programmed, the saw starts its cutting and runs its program with no further input needed, allowing the operator to stay safer, cleaner, and drier at some distance from the action.
Bosch had the big party booth this year, with a lot of action that brought attendees in, like giveaways and an invitation-only afternoon concert by country music performer Lee Brice. And as expected, several key new tools made their debut at the show, including some surprise entries in the carpentry / woodworking category. You expect to see concrete and construction tools here, but their woodworking product manager was also in attendance with a few long-awaited tools. We’ll start there.
Long-absent from Bosch’s tool line has been a cordless miter saw. Well the wait is over with the new GCM18V-08 8 1/2″ sliding miter saw. The saw’s brushless motor runs on one 18-volt battery pack and features 47-degree miter capacity both right and left and left tilting bevel angles just over 45 degrees. It features a laser line as well as an LED light, and can be adjusted down to fit an 8 1/4” blade if the need arises. It should be available this August for a price in the mid-$400 range for the bare tool.
Also conspicuously missing from Bosch’s lineup, (in the USA anyway), has been a track saw. The GKT13-225 plunge-cutting track saw has been available in Europe, but now it’s coming to our shores this March. They only showed it briefly at the show one day so I missed seeing it in person, but what I know is that it’s a corded model, has a 48-tooth, 6 1/2″ blade, and will come packed in a rigid L-boxx case for $599, (tracks sold separately).
Also new in the wood-cutting department is the GKS18V-264GC programmable 7 1/4” circ saw – an 18-volt cordless construction saw with a definite European flair. What do I mean by that? Well, the saw has features similar to Euro track saws like front and rear bevel locks, an integrated vacuum port, and adjustable motor speed settings. The Human/Machine Interface (HMI) display module lets you scroll through six preset speed settings for the tool’s brushless motor, and you can adjust the rpm of each speed setting through the Bosch Toolbox app. This feature may be unnecessary for most wood cutting uses where full-throttle operation is the rule, but could come in handy for dialing in the proper speeds for cutting certain composite materials used in cabinetmaking without melting or burning the edges. Look for this saw in October with a price tag in the upper-$200 range for the bare tool.
All saws aside, this was the World of Concrete show after all, so the front of the Bosch booth featured their latest in 18-volt cordless rotary hammers. The biggie—the 1 3/8” SDS Max GBH18V-36C—is a new, high-tech model with a ton of advanced features. It has the more powerful “turbo” version brushless motor, an HMI display screen to warn about any error conditions, and an optional Bluetooth module to connect the tool to the Bosch Toolbox app for setting and storing favorite speed settings and performing tool and battery diagnostics.
For the nuts and bolts, the tool has 5.5 ft-lbs of impact energy and is noted as being the first SDS Max tool from Bosch with a reverse mode for helping to free a bound bit. Of course, if a bit does bind up, the tool has an improved electronic clutch Bosch calls KickBack Control to halt the tool, but that’s back to more whiz-bang wizardry… Look for it in September, price as yet undetermined.
But wait, there’s more… Bosch also has a new 18-volt cordless rotary hammer in the next size down, the GBH18V-26D Bulldog. This 1” SDS Plus model has a brushless motor that generates 1.9 ft-lbs of impact energy and features Bosch’s KickBack Control to protect the user if the bit binds. Available in April, bare tool priced at $219.
This new rotary hammer, along with other inline-design SDS Plus models from Bosch, connects to the GDE18V-26D SDS Plus dust extractor. This vac unit has its own onboard battery so it doesn’t rob drilling power from the tool it’s attached to. The vac has a HEPA filter, but since it doesn’t have a self-cleaning feature, it relies on objective data provided by Bosch for OSHA silica dust compliance. To make dust collection more efficient, it comes with two tip sizes to fit closely around the bit, and an extension tube to work with bits up to 10” long. The dust extractor is available for $139 as a bare tool.
Dust collection as per OSHA’s crystalline silica regulations is still a major focus for tool systems at the World of Concrete 2019 show, and innovations are still coming. Since concrete drilling doesn’t have any CFM requirements, these vacs can be on the smaller side and still achieve Table 1 compliance. Fitting that description is the new DWH161 DeWalt Universal Dust Extractor, DUDE for short, an ultra-compact, wearable HEPA vac that weighs in at under 4 1/2 pounds with the 2.0 Ah battery included in the kit form.
It’s designed to be carried around with a shoulder strap, so it provides ideal portability when paired with a cordless rotary hammer (or cordless drywall cutout tool or sander or…). It’s easy enough to reach down to turn it on and off, but it can be activated via DeWalt’s wireless activation system whether triggered directly from a connected tool or from a remote switch fob. Two of the most thoughtful features are the universal HEPA filter — a single accessory part that fits all of the brand’s compact dust collectors, and the ability for the vac’s dust box to be cleaned out with an evacuator fitting by a larger vac without exposing the user to any of the hazardous dust. Available in June for $139 (bare tool) or $249 in kit form.
Cordless rotary hammers are a big hit at this show (get it?), and DeWalt has new SDS Max and SDS Plus models on the way. The DCH773Y2 is DeWalt’s new heavy hitter 2” SDS Max tool and is part of their 60-volt Max Flexvolt system. Features include a whopping 19.4 Joules (14.3 ft-lbs) of impact energy, (wait–is that correct? – wow!), a brushless motor, and DeWalt’s SHOCKS vibration control system. This combination hammer also has an electronic clutch and other internal electronics with various warning and service indicator lights. Expected to release in May for $1,099 in a kit with two 12.0 Ah Flexvolt packs.
DeWalt’s latest SDS Plus rotary hammer is the 1 1/8” DCH263R2, which is part of their 20-volt Max cordless line. This lightweight, three-mode tool includes the DeWalt SHOCKS anti-vibration system and generates 3 Joules (2.2 ft-lbs) of impact energy. The DWH205DH onboard dust collector makes this setup OSHA Table 1 compliant for drilling, and the arm on the collector works with bits up to 10” long. The new hammer will be available this April with two 6.0 Ah packs for $499, and with the addition of the dust collector as the DCH263R2DH for $649.
The DCD130 is DeWalt’s second mud mixing tool in their 60-volt Max Flexvolt line. But unlike the purpose-built mixer introduced a few years ago, the new model will be available in the US, and it also doubles as a big honking drill with high torque and electronic clutch protection. With a standard chuck, and a long side handle to brace against, this tool can switch from stirring mortar to driving long auger bits through timbers. Like most drills, this model has a simple variable speed trigger, (versus a speed-setting dial), so you have to develop good finger memory to mix different materials at their optimum rpm. Available in March for $219 (bare tool) or $349 in kit form with one 6.0 Ah Flexvolt battery.
We’ve already covered both of DeWalt’s battery-powered concrete pinners capable of shooting nails through wood or steel framing into concrete. These tools do a good job at replacing gas cartridge tools in the same applications, but their available power limits their uses. When you need considerably greater driving power for structural steel or setting threaded anchors in concrete, a powder-actuated tool (PAT) is still the go-to solution. DeWalt’s new DFD270 shoots .27 caliber fasteners up to 2 7/8” long, working as a single-shot tool or with a magazine for collated fasteners. To make it easier to get going with these tools, training and exams for PAT certification can now be done online and your license printed out at home. Look for the tool this June with the single shot model for $749 and the model with the DFD2703 auto-loading magazine for $849.
The new DeWalt DCF896 is the connected version of their premium cordless impact wrench. By adding DeWalt’s Tool Connect system to the tool, precision modes can be programmed like auto-shutoff of the tool after a set duration of impacting, and a thread tapping function that alternates forward and reverse rotation. Available this summer for $219 (bare tool) or $419 in kit form with two 5.0 Ah batteries.
Husqvarna’s construction division was a huge presence outdoors at the World of Concrete 2019 show, and when they operate their remote-control demolition robots it makes me hope they never turn on us in the future. “Crush, kill, destroy”…“deploying jackhammer”…I shudder to think… From their less-ominous indoor booth, I got a good look at their latest from their TWS (Tools Without Sentience) lines. Husqvarna bought Dynapac last year and added several of their plate compactors and a small roller compacter to their product line.
As per OSHA’s Table 1 dust regulations, anything called a “saw” has to be used with wet cutting methods to tame the dust. So to adapt to dry dust collection options, companies shy away from calling their cutting tools saws. Luckily for Husqvarna, they use the term “power cutters”. Their latest K770 Vac power cutter is a version of their K770 with a shroud that encloses part of the cutting wheel and a large dust port on its guard. Using a 12” wheel the tool is designed for, you can use it with a HEPA vac that produces at least 300 CFM for Table 1 compliance. There are a few plastic-bodied job site HEPA vacs from other brands that fit the bill, but Husqvarna also has larger multiple-stage HEPA vacs in their catalog to use with their new saw, I mean power cutter.
Want to cut concrete and masonry without the noise and exhaust of gas power and without being attached to an electrical cord or air or hydraulic hose? Of course you do, and now for cutting up to 3” deep, Husqvarna has a battery-powered solution. The new 9” K535i XP power cutter fits the same 36-volt battery packs as Husqvarna’s tree and lawn care tools, and their latest 9.4 Ah pack may be the largest capacity battery currently available among construction tools. To tame dust, the tool has an onboard water delivery system that can be connected to a portable pump, but there is no dust port on the guard to enable dust collection for dry cutting.
I covered the heck out of Makita’s new tools in my last STAFDA report, so there wasn’t too much new for us here at their World of Concrete booth, but a few goodies that weren’t quite done then are worth a second look. Plus, c’mon, it’s Makita! They have over 200 tools and related gear powered by their 18 volt battery packs so I’m sure you’ve already forgotten half of them by now.
The new AWS remote wireless unit was “off the record” the last time I saw it so this is the first real look at it. Makita’s AWS (Auto-start Wireless System) is a communication system between enabled cordless tools and cordless vacuums which lets the tools activate the vacs for automatic dust collection duties whenever the tools are used. To use AWS with larger corded dust collection vacs, there is now a receiving unit that plugs into a vac’s onboard outlet which triggers the vac on and off.
A brand new framing nailer from Makita is truly news. At a pound less than the previous model, the AN924 lightens up the nailing experience but still shoots 3 1/2″ nails up to .148” thick. The 21-degree nailer features a top-loading aluminum magazine and an adjustable-length hanging hook that can point right or left. And to make it easier to switch between sequential and bump firing, a switch on the tool lets you make the change without swapping out the trigger. Here in February in the $229 to $249 range.
The XDT16 Quick-Shift Mode impact driver we showed in the last STAFDA report is now available, and this sample had its control pad printed in English instead of Japanese so it was a little easier to figure out. To review, it’s Makita’s latest high tech impact driver with a multitude of modes including four speed/power settings, two T settings for self-tapping screws of different sizes, Assist mode for starting long screws slowly, and an auto-stop mode in reverse. This last setting helps when backing out a bolt or nut without flinging the fastener into oblivion. The tool halts shortly after it stops sensing resistance and with a little practice, it looks pretty easy to stop a nut before it comes all the way off a bolt or stud.
A one-touch “favorites” button above the trigger can be manually set with your most used setting so that a quick push of the button toggles the tool between the chosen setting and normal operation. And if you’re not in the mood to fiddle with settings (or just forgot your glasses), shifting the impact driver into Quick-Shift Mode lets the computer chip in the tool’s brushless motor decide “the best balance of speed and torque for each application for more efficient fastening”. If the thing is this smart, I wouldn’t leave it next to my cell phone during lunch in case it figures out how to order itself some fancy bits online.
Makita had many cordless metal cutting solutions showcased in their booth from their new chop saw a compact circ saw with a debris-collecting guard to their rebar shear. But one I’m not sure I’d seen before was the XCS06 cordless “steel rod flush cutter”. Built like an angle grinder with a carbide tooth blade, the guide/guard at the end aligns securely against the rod you are cutting so it’s not at all like the jerky freehand cutting with a cutting wheel on a grinder. With this tool, you can cut up to #8 rebar (or other 1” steel rod) within 1/8” of the surface it is protruding from, and with the carbide blade, the cuts stay cool to the touch.
And the most fun thing to play with in the Makita booth was their XRT01 cordless rebar tying tool. Just place the aiming “horns” of the tool over a rebar junction and pull the trigger. Whizzzz ka-chunk, whizzzz ka-chunk, whizzzz, ka-chunk. In about one second (as fast as it cycles), it has you wondering “how’s it do that?”. Pretty neat.
You couldn’t walk into the Metabo booth without tripping over a new rotary hammer. The brand is introducing a line of full-size corded SDS Max hammers and the additions are designed to “leave no holes in our product line” according to our guy at Metabo. Four rotary hammers in 1 9/16”, 1 3/4″, and 2 1/16” sizes as well as two demo hammers will premier in May. Most of the tools feature AC brushless motors, used for their increased efficiency and the ability to adapt to drops in voltage from a job site supply that could damage a conventional AC motor. The premium hammers feature an active counterbalance mechanism and damped handles to reduce user-felt vibration.
And as predicted a few years ago, the US market is adopting the twin 18-volt battery version for Metabo’s large 36-volt rotary hammers. You can see that the battery packs are connected to a low profile adapter. In place of the adapter, the brand’s 36-volt battery pack can be used on the tool, but that battery is not common in our market.
Skilsaw’s Medusaw concrete cutting saw is usually used with the attached water feed system, relying on water to tame the dust to comply with OSHA’s dust regs. At this year’s WOC show, Skilsaw connected their saws to vacs made by Flex (another brand in the Skilsaw family.) Both the handheld and walk-behind versions of the Medusaw already had a dust collection port built in. For this operation to be covered by OSHA’s Table 1, Skilsaw would have to change the classification of the tool away from being called a saw, and users would have to use it with a vac with at least 175 cfm. Or the brand could test it to the OSHA requirements and provide objective data for the suitability of dry cutting. It will be interesting to see what Skilsaw and Flex do with this to provide users with another dust control option. In my tests the Medusaw was a very effective cutter and easy to use, but the wet cutting limitation could be an issue on some remodeling jobs.
Gear and Safety and World of Concrete 2019
Last year I mentioned getting a sneak peek at upcoming boots by KEEN that were a radical departure from their trademark look and now they’re out and selling well. Of course, I’m talking about the all-leather styles designed without KEEN’s signature rubber toe cap. They’re kind of like KEENs that don’t look like KEENs, but they still have asymmetrical right and left toe designs and legit work boot features as part of KEEN Utility’s lineup.
The San Jose is designed with a moc-toe upper and wedge sole, and features KEEN’s LUFTcell midsole claimed to contain 100,000 air bubbles per cubic centimeter (we’ll take their word for it). Available in a few colors and with an aluminum protective toe or soft toe styles for $155 and $150 respectively. The Seattle is another all-leather model with the looks of a traditional work boot. It has a boot sole with a heel, an aluminum protective toe, and comes in three color options for $160.
Another new boot from KEEN with a leather upper, but without the traditional work boot look is the decidedly sporty Manchester. It represents another new look for KEEN with a sleek wedge sole design and only the tiniest vestige of the KEEN toe cap in front, sort of the vanity plate version. Available in several colors with a protective aluminum toe for $160, or soft toe for $155.
Two more new models that are KEENs that look like KEENs with the signature rubber toe cap and more industrial styling we’re used to are the St. Paul and the Dover. The St. Paul is an all synthetic, waterproof boot with an imposing Darth Boot color scheme, and lightweight carbon fiber protective toes. The Dover also has carbon fiber protective toes, as well as “all the bells and whistles” in the words of a KEEN spokesman for the brand. These include body-armor-inspired raised plates in wear areas along the side of the boot, EH-rated outsoles, KEEN’s LUFTcell midsoles, and many more technical features. (It sounds packed so full of innovations, hopefully they left enough room for your feet.) And KEEN is especially proud that the Dover will be manufactured at their US facility in Oregon. Both of these new boot models will be made with a sliding cord around the heel, called KONNECTFIT, which is designed to snug them down a little better. Both will premier in April, with the St. Paul at $190 and the Dover at $195.
Miller by Honeywell
Miller fall protection is designing sleeker and more comfortable harnesses and this evolution is especially apparent in their upgraded Aircore and premium Revolution product lines. An eye-catching model in a limited production run is the Patriotic Aircore harness with a stars and stripes design that outshines plain orange or yellow webbing any day.
Another core safety product category of Miller’s is temporary anchors and connectors used to attach a worker’s lifeline or lanyard to something solid. From common nylon and polyester webbing anchor slings to specialized chains, cables, and wire hooks, Miller has the goods to keep you from hitting the ground. One thing they’re proud of but you’d never know is that their steel carabiners, required by ANSI to have a gate-load rating of 3,600 pounds, are actually able to withstand 5,000 pounds of load on the gate. So you can trust your carabiner with more confidence regardless of what position it may end up in in the event of a sudden fall.
Dropped-object prevention goes hand in hand with fall protection, (actually more like harness-to-lanyard than hand in hand), and a lot of industries look to Ty-Flot to outfit their dropped objects safety and foreign material exclusion (FME) programs. FME is like dropped-object prevention but geared specifically for keeping something out of something, like a worker’s wrench out of a nuclear power plant’s cooling tank.
To help workers at height stay organized and safe with all of their tools and attached tethers and lanyards, soft-sided tool buckets are used. These buckets are load rated to be hoisted overhead or attached to scaffolds or railings above other workers. Ty-Flot’s latest is the (TB1519100BZMOL) MOLLE Bucket, inspired by the military MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) system of backpacks and tactical carrying gear with multiple external loops serving as connection points. This way instead of everything being piled inside the bucket, you can clip your most-used items to the outside for easier access. The loops are load rated at 15 pounds each, and can be loaded with up to half of the bucket’s overall load rating of 100 pounds. The plywood-over-leather bottom of the bucket holds its cylindrical shape, and a sturdy zippered top keeps contents from spilling out if the bucket is tipped over. There are a few different top strap attachment options for the MOLLE Bucket, and it can even be accessorized with an interior LED ring light to illuminate its contents.
And as usual, I saved my favorite for last. This isn’t a concrete tool, and it’s not even considered a construction tool by most measures. But A.) I’m a chain saw nut, B.) It’s my show report, and C.) See A and B.
The Home Fixated “Coolest thing at the World of Concrete 2019 show” award goes to…
Stihl’s new pro forestry saw, the MS 462 C-M. It was well hidden in the back of their booth, but I can sniff out the essence of quality bar and chain oil from 2 or 3 chains distant. This saw first caught my eye when I spotted it in encased in a glass display box at last fall’s GIE show. My curiosity grew when I saw it again at the TCI Expo show, still sealed up and illuminated, just beyond my grasp. My admiration was confirmed at the World of Concrete show where the saw sat on a shelf, uncelebrated, yet real to the touch. Yep, it’s cool.
The real deal with this saw is that it’s part of trend of new higher-efficiency saws being introduced with smaller engines, but more power output than some larger existing models. This 72.2 cc, 6.0 horsepower saw is replacing the 76.5 cc MS 461 with no loss in power but a weight reduction of 1.6 pounds. It’s also replacing the 70.7 cc MS 441 C-M with a similar weight benefit while adding nearly 1/2 horsepower. The MS 462 C-M saw has Stihl’s M-Tronic system to automatically adjust ignition for different fuel, air, and environmental conditions instead of requiring the operator to fiddle with high and low adjustment screws while they’d rather be cutting wood.