New Saws for Changing Needs
Advanced technology, dust collection and portability define the next generation of masonry saws
By Brett Martin
Mark Michaels, director of product management for Olathe, Kan.-based Husqvarna Construction Products North America, says his company is currently working on new saws that will be available in the second half of 2008. The saws will answer the market demand for lighter weight masonry saws that are easier to transport and easy to use, yet rugged.
"The contractor is seeing a need for better portability, although toughness and durability are still important," Michaels says. "Our development now is on good portability and good versatility. The saws need to cut a variety of material."
New Technologies, Better PerformanceSTIHL Inc. has an advanced air filtration system on its new 12-inch TS 410 and 14-inch TS 420 saws that delivers 99.96 percent clean air to the machines and eliminates the need to clean the filter.
"One of the most significant advancements on the new STIHL Cutquik cut-off machines is the X2 air filtration system," says Adam Hanks, industrial product manager for STIHL in Virginia Beach, Va. "It's virtually maintenance free: When the operator notices a drop in power, they simply replace the filter. For an average user, that's usually up to one year."
Hanks says a newly designed, anti-vibration system cuts vibration almost in half. A larger fuel tank offers a longer run time than previous models. New engine technology also increases fuel efficiency while cutting emissions.
"When compared to previous models, operators will appreciate the 43 percent reduction in vibration, giving them greater comfort and reduced fatigue, as well as the improved fuel efficiency and an increased runtime of 20 percent," Hanks says. "The stratified charge technology also yields a 44 percent reduction in emissions."
"There is so much larger stone being cut," Steiner says. "It's specialty stone work, but it's expensive stonework."
Capable of making extremely accurate cuts — to within five-thousandths of an inch — the saw offers a 24-inch-square cutting cart with an extension that accommodates slabs up to 24 X 36 inches. The saw handles rip cuts up to 38 inches, and it rotates up to 90 degrees for precise angle cuts.
"With the growing use of large tile and more expensive stone materials, the time for a saw like the Rocket has come," he says. "It's not for everyone, but contractors who get into these larger jobs absolutely love the combination of precision, capacity and portability the Rocket delivers."
Moving Toward Dust-free CuttingManufacturers are finding ways to contain dust. MK Diamond Products Inc. in Torrance, Calif., has a new dry-cutting saw, the BX-4, that eliminates dust by using a water mist, says Brian Delahaut, company VP and general manager. The mist doesn't get the masonry materials wet.
"It uses about one and one-half gallons of water over an eight-hour period and cuts down about 70 percent of dust," Delahaut says. "The mist is going to cut down on the dust and still have the benefit of cutting dry."
An open back and 14-inch blade let the saw cut blocks up to eight X eight X 16 inches. After a full day of cutting, there's no slurry to deal with.
"At the end of the day, the mist dries, and you just have debris in the bottom of the pan," Delahaut says. "You don't have to throw out any slurry. You basically clean out the pan, but you don't have the disposal issue. There's really no reason to have a flood system any longer."
"There's a huge movement toward 'dust free' in masonry. Masonry contractors realize that they can't just let the dust fly anymore," Guth says, noting that his dust collectors contain about 98 percent of the dust on a dry saw, depending on cutting conditions.
"Dust collection is a definite benefit to the workers and to the employer," he explains. "It gives them the advantages of dry cutting, and they can keep the saw close to the work area."
Guth says dry cutting eliminates a giant headache. "Water is the easiest way to deal with the dust, but the water creates other problems," he says. "We developed our dust collection system so contractors could keep the advantages of dry cutting, while using an effective means to contain the dust."
"Our challenge is to make it easier for the customer," Michaels says. "We want to make a saw the customer will appreciate and like to use, and not view it as an inconvenience to meet regulations."
Masonry contractors aren't asking for a big dust collector, but if the job requires it, the demand will be there.
"Less noise and less dust are the big issues," Michaels says. "The environment and regulations also play a role. We're seeing more concern about dust. It's our responsibility to control that dust for the customer."
Portable, Versatile Hardscaping SawsMaking saws portable is increasingly important, especially for hardscaping contractors who need to move saws around the jobsite. Manufacturers are focusing on designing easily transportable saws. Diamond Vantage Inc., in Grandview, Mo., has an optional cart for moving its DVIBB 14-in. masonry saw.
"The pro cart makes the saw mobile and versatile," says Graeme Gilmour, president and CEO of the company. "The height is adjustable, and you can move it around the jobsite very easily."
That saw and the 20-inch DVIGMS saw are available in gas or electric. Since the saws are made in America, masonry contractors can quickly get replacement parts.
Hardscaping is a growing market for masonry saws, says Husqvarna's Michaels. Hardscaping contractors want a saw that's less expensive than saws used in traditional masonry, and it has to be lightweight so workers can move it around the jobsite, such as along a decorative sidewalk.
"Landscaping has been a fast-growing industry," Michaels says. "Landscapers want a less-expensive saw with more portability."
"It allows you to cut your pavers all day and not get the material wet and end up with slurry," Hommey says.
A garden hose hookup is included to provide a clean water supply, if masonry contractors want to wet cut. A fixed engine platform minimizes vibration. The masonry material is moved through the saw, instead of the other way around.
"Our blade is fixed so the engine is not moving," Hommey says. "This allows the engine to perform with optimum power. The saw lasts longer, and you get a smoother cut, less vibration and a cleaner cut, time after time."
Gilmour says Diamond Vantage saws also offer a fixed platform cutting system. "It isolates the engine from the cutting," he says. "You're not tilting the engine, which lets it perform better."
Editor's Pick: New Rat-Tail Angle GrindersAngle grinders provide an option for cutting some brick and pavers. Last year, Mount Prospect, Ill.-based Bosch Power Tools and Accessories added two new five-inch, lightweight Rat-tail angle grinders to its lineup.
The 1821 and the 1824E weigh slightly more than 5 pounds, says Ryan Anderson, Bosch product manager. Electronic Kickback Protection in the 1824E model provides extra protection against kickbacks. Electronics monitor for a quick drop in RPMs, caused by a wheel binding in the material, and shut it off to eliminate kickback. Mechanical clutches allow the wheel to slip to further reduce kickback.
"An anti-vibration handle cuts vibration by 60 percent," Anderson says. "The handle is much easier to hold for long periods of time. You can use the tool all day without getting tired or fatigued."
About the Author
Brett Martin is a freelance writer located in Shakopee, Minn. with several years of construction and writing experience.