2023 Gear of the Year

Words: Isa Stein

Editorial Note: The MCAA is grateful for another successful year in the masonry industry. As we wrap up 2023, we wanted to put together a list of significant innovations in masonry tools, equipment, PPE, and technology. Check out the features below.

Tools

Keystone Forged Masonry Trowels by Bon
Bon’s Keystone Forged Masonry Trowels are forged from a single piece of carbon steel that won’t weaken or crack. These trowels are heat tempered for a uniform hardness and finished with hand polishing that’s geared for the modern-day mason. The Keystones’  provide precision, unique balance, and enhanced control with an unmatched flexibility. Available in numerous sizes and types;  Narrow London (9”-13”), Wide London (10”–12”), and Philadelphia (10” -12”).  Each Keystone is available with the following handle types: Wood, Leather, Plastic, and Comfort Grip.

MARSHALLTOWN London Brick Trowel
Every mason carries a brick trowel in his tool bag—it’s an essential tool for all functional or decorative brick, block, and stonework. Using a MARSHALLTOWN London Brick Trowel yields quality, professional results, and with a wide variety of sizes and handle materials, it’s easy to find the ideal trowel for the job. MARSHALLTOWN London Brick Trowels are offered in lengths ranging from 9” to 13” and widths ranging from 4-1/2" to 5-3/8”.  There are several handle materials to choose from—smooth wood, grippy DuraCork®, comfortable DuraSoft®, high quality leather, or crack-resistant plastic. Each trowel is forged from a single piece of high carbon steel and polished to perfection, resulting in a clean finish to any job. MARSHALLTOWN London Brick Trowels are proudly made in the USA with global materials. Check out marshalltown.com for more information.

MARSHALLTOWN Magnesium Hawk
A hawk is an important tool for brick masons to have on the jobsite. It’s handy for holding mortar especially when repointing brick. MARSHALLTOWN Magnesium Hawks make mortar application effortless. Made of magnesium, these hawks are lightweight and durable. The score marks on the base of the hawk are machined to a uniform depth and specially shaped. This helps the blade remain flat throughout use and keeps mortar from sliding off. With a variety of sizes ranging from 8” x 8” to 14” x 14”, you can find the right size for your job. MARSHALLTOWN Magnesium Hawks are offered with two handle types — a smooth wooden handle or a comfortable DuraSoft® handle. All sizes come with a callus preventer for optimal comfort. The MARSHALLTOWN Hawks are proudly made in the USA with global materials. Check out marshalltown.com for more information.

BBL Blockbuster Large Masonry Saw by Norton Clipper
The Norton Clipper BBL heavy-duty block saws have become the industry standard for masons worldwide. Equipped in either electric or gas, these saws are available with single or three-phase electric motors as well as a more powerful 13 HP gasoline engine. Having a rugged all-steel frame design with forklift brackets, these saws resist twisting and damage during transport around a job site. A blade capacity up to 24" and features of extended water pans and open back frame allows cutting of larger materials. The balanced cutting head makes for effortless cutting depth positioning.

SOLA BIG RED Mason Spirit Levels For The Masonry Professional
SOLA mason levels are the perfect tools for the masonry pro. Level guards are attached to our world class BIG RED levels, offering protection of the spirit level from hits of a mason trowel.  BIG RED spirit levels feature the patented SOLA FOCUS vials, offering 60% magnification along with improved readability in dim lighting due to the SOLA luminous backing.  With the strongest profile and highest measuring tolerance of 0.017° in the standard position, you can be confident you are using the best level for the job.  Available in 24-inch and 48-inch lengths, the SOLA level guards are removable and replaceable, so you can use any BIG RED level as a mason’s level.  

SOLA METRON 60 Laser Distance Meter with Bluetooth Technology
With the touch of a button, SOLA’s METRON 60 laser distance meter will save you time and simplify the measuring process.  In just a matter of seconds, you can access various measuring functions, and with the integrated Bluetooth interface measured data can be saved, managed, and shared all from your smart device.  With nine measuring functions, you can calculate areas or volumes easily, and distances can be measured with very high accuracy.  The METRON 60 offers an operating range of up to 200 feet (60 meters) and includes a belt bag, charging/data cable and rechargeable battery.

CoreLock by WIRE-BOND
WIRE-BOND's CoreLock rebar positioner line is experiencing an unprecedented surge in popularity, and it's not hard to see why. The CoreLock rebar positioners were designed to revolutionize the way contractors approach vertical rebar positioning within double core blocks, whether for single or double applications. These innovative wire positioners snugly slide down (1-1/4") into the core, anchoring the rebar securely and eliminating any possibility of misalignment – an absolute game-changer! Contractors will benefit from the following features of the CoreLock positioner:

  1. Effortless Installation: Say goodbye to complex installations! CoreLock is a breeze to set up, reducing precious downtime on the job.
  2. Cost-Efficiency: Time is money in the construction world. With CoreLock, you're not only saving time but also slashing costs, making it the smart choice for your project.
  3. Unwavering Stability: Remains in position even under stress of jobsite conditions and positioning of bars.
  4. Core Design:  Inside core design will prevent any knocking out of bed joints where installed.
  5. Code Compliance Guaranteed: With CoreLock, you're not just getting a rebar positioner; you're getting peace of mind. It guarantees code compliance, so you can build with confidence, knowing your project meets all the necessary regulations.

Make CoreLock your trusted partner and experience a redefined approach to rebar positioning. Your future projects deserve nothing less!

Equipment

NEW Hog Guard® Scaffold Safety Accessories by EZG Manufacturing
The Hog Guard is designed to block off openings that occur on scaffolding assemblies such as, door frames, window allowances or any large opening that may present a potential fall risk associated with typical masonry and block jobs. When using the Hog Guard components with your scaffolding, the uprights are to be positioned in the space of the opening allowance, hooking securely onto the walk boards. Once the end guard and rail assembly are in place there are slots at the top, bottom, and middle to insert 2x4’s that will act as the guard rails thus preventing workers from falling through an opening.

Hog Guard Features:

  • Interchangeable components are sold separately to custom fit your site needs for added safety.
  • Ready-fit design for simple assembly and breakdown.
  • Made to work with most existing scaffold systems.

To learn more visit ezgmfg.com or call 1-800-417-9272

BR V-3000 by FRACO
An economical and sustainable solution for masonry restoration, the BrickRecyc technology is a unique and patented innovation that allows the removal of mortar on brick without percussion, directly on construction site. It represents labour saving of 25% allowing cleaning of up to 500 bricks per hour. Simple, ergonomic and compact, the unit features an intuitive user interface and can be moved easily on scaffolding or work platform, directly on site, which improves urban safety and traffic obstruction. BrickRecyc offers a premium finished product that preserves the heritage image, while also contributing significantly to the circular economy through brick revitalization. Using BrickRecyc helps reduce construction waste and carbon emission which are great for the environment!

MULE Rail System by Construction Robotics and EZ Scaffold
Developed from customer feedback with the needs of the mason in mind, the MULE Rail System is an engineering collaboration between Construction Robotics and EZ Scaffold. This innovation allows a contractor using MULE to quickly and safely move each MULE down a rail system to work another wall section, effectively doubling the amount of wall covered by a single MULE. The versatile design allows the MULE Rail to be mounted anywhere on the platform, from side to side and front to back, and because the rail system mounts above the scaffold deck, it does not impede worker or material access. It can be used on any EZ Scaffold; Singles, Compacts, Twins and Crank Up.

QUICK HEADERS – REMOVABLE, REUSABLE STRUCTURAL MASONRY SHORING
Light-weight and simple to use, QUICK HEADERS are a patented, structural masonry shoring system that eliminates the need for wood bucks or precast lintels. Removable and reusable, QUICK HEADERS provides a substantial increase in job productivity, efficiencies, profitability and safety. QUICK HEADERS are hollow C-channel steel beams with extendable trays on each end. Sizes range from 2’ to 16’, available in one-foot increments. Two trays, each 7” long, add an additional 14” of extension to the length, providing great flexibility.  A post shore is required for openings greater than 6 feet wide. For greater flexibility, the QUICK CONNECT accessory will field-link any size double-trayed QUICK HEADER together forming unlimited lengths for any size opening. Brand new in 2023, the 90-QUICK CONNECT links QUICK HEADERS at ninety-degree corners of a structure. Masons can quickly set a QUICK HEADER in place safely by adjusting the tray to fit the opening, setting the 1” tabs on the block edges, prop if required, and the 6-inch-wide setting surface is ready to set block over. Installed in minutes compared to hours for building a wood buck or cumbersome precast lintels; and removed in even less time to reuse again and again, users are left with clean, true openings for downline trades. QUICK HEADERS are changing the industry standard for masonry shoring. The age-old shoring method of building a “wood buck” or “steel lintels” are a thing of the past. We no longer need to waste valuable time, money, and natural resources. 

Call 801-675-5572, Visit www.quickheaders.com. 

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

APEX Type 2 Safety Helmet
The Malta Dynamics APEX Type 2 Safety Helmet with WaveOn Technology meets ANSI standard Z89.1-2014 and features a six-point suspension system for improved impact protection with adjustable head and chin straps for ultimate comfort and fit. Equipped with WaveOn Technology, a contactless chip provides readily available access to documentation. Simply wave a smartphone over the WaveOn decal and register the product. WaveOn links a registered helmet to a worker’s training documentation, all in one place, without the need for safety managers to download an app. Malta Dynamics is field-tested and worker-approved to keep you and your crew safe.

Technology

CrewTracks Construction Management Software - Individual Data Entry
CrewTracks field management software has evolved with masonry in mind for years, and we keep innovating based on our vision and your feedback. With our individual data entry feature, field workers have the ability to clock themselves in and out, track their own production, review and fill out documents, and submit their own notes and photos all from their own devices. All that information is sent, in real-time, to the foreman to review and catch any errors made by employees and then submit. It is then available instantly for supervisors to review and approve in a single, easy-to-read, daily report. This feature can be turned off if you want your foreman to record all information on the job site. For more information on this feature and our other features, check out crewtracks.com to learn more, or give us a call at 801-742-5555 to speak with an account manager.

Tekla Structures
Tekla Structures is a building information modeling software able to model structures that incorporate different kinds of building materials, including masonry, concrete, steel, timber, and glass. Tekla allows contractors, drafters, and engineers to design a building structure and its components using 3D modeling, generate 2D drawings, and access building information. Whether the focus is solely on Masonry or it is part of your larger offering Tekla offers a comprehensive BIM for masonry solutions. Tekla's masonry tools expedite laying out hundreds or thousands of units and make placing these objects quick and easy. In addition, Tekla provides a masonry-specific configuration to support and enhance workflows with masonry units. This includes accurate quantity reporting, drawing creation, and clash detection directly from the 3D model. Combined with other project, safety and site planning tools such as the Task Manager, Robotic Total Station layout or scaffolding features, Tekla Structures enables masons and contractors to enhance their existing workflows and adopt new technology to stay competitive.

MCAA App
The Mason Contractors Association of America proudly introduces its latest innovation: a cutting-edge mobile application. This app was developed for event coordination, seamless attendance tracking, and more. Upon logging in, users can personalize their profiles by adding their photos and essential information, fostering a more engaging and personalized networking experience. Furthermore, users can conveniently access the complete attendee list, providing valuable insights into associated companies. Attendees will stay in the loop with real-time push notifications, ensuring that they stay informed on any potential changes or updates. The app also allows the ability to download and save meeting details, notes, and more. Join the growing community of industry professionals and unlock the full potential of MCAA events. Experience seamless integration, enhanced networking opportunities, and unparalleled event immersion like never before by downloading at http://app.masoncontractors.org. 

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