4 Power Tools That Helped Improve Worksite Efficiency
In this three-part series, we’ll be exploring the types of things that have and should increase productivity and efficiency on worksites, from inception to completion.
Second: the tools we take for granted today that save us time, fatigue and money — power tools.
TECHNOLOGY: Efficient Power Tools — the Big 4.
In construction, we of course know that a powered circular saw will cut faster and easier than a hand saw. And a power drill will create a hole much faster than a hand drill. And so on.
But as the decades have gone by since C&E Fein invented the first power drill in 1895 (which, by the way, weighed a hefty 16.5lb/7.5kg, required two operators and had a relatively weak motor), there have been other innovations in power tools that now help those in more specialised fields and applications gain more efficiency on site.
Here are just some examples from the 20th Century and beyond:
1. Powered Screw Gun
Everyone from professionals to domestic users would be aware of the nail gun, used in everything from carpentry to upholstering to art framing.
But fewer people outside of the professional realm would be aware that repetitive tasks for screwing into timber—particularly tasks which require bending down to secure decking planks to battens, for example—can be made easier with a power tool: a powered screw gun.
A popular screw gun is the Makita FS2300, for plasterboard (or ‘drywall’) applications, which can be embellished for vertical standing installation applications by attaching Simpson Strongtie’s Quik Drive system.
The Quik Drive system allows for far easier repetitive screw installation on floor projects via eliminating the need for the operator to get down on their knees or bend their back. With the auto-feed mechanism, screws are fed automatically from a collated strip that looks a little bit like a machine gun’s ammo belt, so the user doesn’t have to reach for and reload another screw with every screw installed.
2. Auto Chemical Anchor Dispenser
The correct installation of chemical anchoring products is a critical element for performance under load that meets engineering requirements.
Included in the list of processes is the quality of the hole drilled into the concrete and how thoroughly the hole is cleaned to remove any particles that may compromise performance of the chemical product injected as well as the stud.
Human fatigue on more repetitive jobs like those in civil infrastructure or high-rise building projects can be a dangerous factor. If a worker uses a mechanical/manual applicator, the repetition paired with the difficulty of extruding the thick chemical can be an injury risk; it’s also very time-consuming.
Enter: the powered chemical dispenser. These power tools dispense chemical anchor into holes with a light pressing of a trigger. And many of these tools have adjustments options for cutting off flow when each hole is perfectly filled as well as the force in which the chemical is extruded.
Hilti’s HDE 500-A22 was an early version of this power tool. Or, see the alternative ChemPower powered chemical anchor dispenser from Allfasteners.
3. Oscillating Multitool
Although this power tool seemed to only become available to the DIY market from the 90s onwards, its roots go back to the 1960s.
Invented by Fein as a reaction to the need for an ‘injury-proof’ ‘saw’ for removing plaster casts from people’s limbs in the health sector, what became the ‘oscillating multitool’ was then adopted in the automotive body shop trades for removing window glass from steel frames in a damage-free manner.
The oscillating motion means that only hard surfaces are likely to be cut whilst softer surfaces are more likely to resist it. And the motion style was seen to be compatible with different attachments such as scrapers and sanding pads.
Today, this tool is used for a large variety of tasks from cutting back old nail heads from timber or cutting into door frames (where a normal power saw could not fit) to accommodate the insertion of skirting boards and the like.
4. Powered Door Lock Mortiser
A mortised hole on the edge of a door frame for holding the lock box may be placed in several vertical positions, depending on where the bolt or latch is placed on the door itself. Often, neither the frame nor the door itself will come with the mortise or handle set holes pre-cut; the installer will have to do that themselves.
It can be a tricky process via standard routing methods to get the alignment 100% correct and the hole depth accurate, especially with trying to hold tools in place while they are operating.
A powered lock mortiser, like the 523 version from Porter Cable, secures to the frame itself, giving the operator a free hand to get it right. And the system places the router in a perfectly central position across the horizontal axis every time.
This system has become invaluable to those who have to perform this task on a highly repetitive basis every day, such as those who have contracts on apartment or office block projects.