If you’re like many homeowners, you probably don’t realize what improvements in power tool technology means for you, even if you don’t do any of your own work. Better cordless tools, speedier delivery of new tool designs to market, and more integrated feedback loops between tool users and manufacturers are all creating tools that allow more work do be done at higher quality and in less time. The bottom line for you is either lower cost renovations, or the ability to do more tasks yourself. Either way you win, and one striking case in point affects the way water supply pipes can be connected these days.
Faster, safer pipe connections
Milwaukee’s ProPEX 2432-22 expander tool allows very fast, foolproof and inexpensive connections to be made in PEX water pipe. This up-and-coming flexible, plastic tubing is used for more and more radiant infloor heating applications, water supply lines and fire sprinkler installations.
Place a PEX ring over the cut end of PEX pipe, place the tip of the expander tool in the hole in the end of the pipe, then switch the tool on. My video shows how the metal fingers of the tool stretch the pipe, making the opening larger. Remove the tool after a few seconds, then insert the fitting immediately into the expanded pipe, holding it there for a few seconds until the PEX shrinks back to size around the fitting. The connection is rock solid almost instantly, and water-tight after just a little more time.
More compact mitre saw
Sliding compound mitre saws have been a mainstay of the construction business since they were invented by Hitachi in 1988. That’s because they combine portability with a large enough crosscutting capacity to handle cuts on the widest trim and deck lumber. Up until now, the biggest problem with sliding compound saws was size. Even though they’re portable, traditional sliding designs are big, especially when they spin 12” diameter blades. Bosch has changed all this with the GCM12SD. Instead of long, cumbersome sliding rails, the GCM12SD uses two beefy articulated arms. As the motor and saw blade moves forwards and backwards during use, these arms never extend beyond the back of the saw. I know from hands-on experience that the system works well.
Better deck board installations
Anchoring deck boards invisibly yields a much better deck than screws, but there are two problems with this approach. Most invisible anchoring systems are expensive, and many are slow. Some are both expensive and slow, and that’s why the HID-Fast deck board nailer impresses me. It’s hard to imagine any kind of fastening system that could work more quickly. The air-powered, hammer-actuated design is the reason why.
The HID-Fast looks and operates like a pneumatic hardwood flooring nailer. Place the tool against the edge of a deck board, then thunk the trigger pad on top with a rubber mallet. This triggers the release of air pressure that fires a stainless steel fastener through the edge of the board and down into the top of the underlying joist. The T-shaped head on each fastener maintains a consistent 1/8” gap between rows of deck boards as they go down, while anchoring spurs extend beyond these heads for gripping into the first side of the next row of deck boards to go down. The result is a very fast installation of deck boards that also looks great.
Perhaps the most surprising thing about the advance of tool technology is how knowledge of these options doesn’t always filter down promptly to professional users. That’s why it pays to know something about the tool options that are out there, and ask about them when it makes sense for renovations at your place.