Long before I became a builder, I used gasoline-powered portable cut-off saws in the Air Force for crash and rescue recovery work to cut through automobile and airplane wreckage and buildings. I left the Air Force long ago, but not the saws. Now I build homes in Santa Fe, N.M., and work with as much adobe, concrete, stucco, and re-bar as I-joists and OSB. My Air Force experience gave me a real appreciation for these tools, so anytime I have to cut concrete, masonry, or steel I reach for one. It also showed me that nobody in their right mind would look forward to using them?they're loud, expensive, and incredibly messy, whether wet cutting or dry. But when it comes to cutting tough materials, they're also the best tools for the job. More
Rookie framers always get stuck with the worst work, like cutting out doorplates and knocking down braces. They also get stuck doing work that's just plain miserable, like nailing off joist hangers. Anyone who's ever been sent into the dungeon to back-nail hangers knows what I'm talking about: trying to drive tiny nails in a confined space over your head. Pneumatic nailer manufacturers, however, seem to have heard our prayers (and curses), and are building tools that make the task of installing framing hardware faster and easier. More
I spent most of my career framing with solid-sawn lumber before the more stable, denser, and stronger engineered stuff started sliding off the truck. Now, my company, Framing Square in Albuquerque, N.M., works with engineered products all the time–laminated strand lumber (LSL), laminated veneer lumber (LVL), parallel strand lumber (PSL), and oriented strand board (OSB) to name a few. And sometimes we run into a problem working with them: Our air tools can't sink 12d nails in the tough stuff. I didn't spend big bucks on compressors and nailers so that my guys and I would be out there swinging our hammers, too. More
Western framers swear by their wormdrive circ saws, so we put six of the latest models to the test. More
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