2022 Gear of the Year

Words: Isa Stein

The MCAA is thankful for another great year in the masonry industry. As we wrap up 2022, we wanted to put together a list of significant innovations in masonry tools, workwear, and technology. Check out the features below.


BIG RED Digital Levels

The BIG RED digital levels are ideal to use anywhere where inclinations, slopes and angles need to be measured quickly and precisely. These digital levels are highly precise, with an integrated electronic inclinometer module and Bluetooth®, which interfaces with the free SOLA Measures app. The key feature of the BIG RED digital spirit levels is the integrated electronic inclination module (Solatronic module) with a measurement tolerance of 0.05° at 0° and 90° and 0.10° between 1° and 89°. The measuring results can be displayed via the “Mode” function either in °, in/ft, % or mm/m. Use the “Hold” function to “freeze” the current measured value in the display, and with the “Inc” (for “inclination”) function, it is easy transfer angles.


The digital GO! smart from SOLA combines the functions of a spirit level, an inclinometer and a protractor in a single device. Equipped with a backlit display and a magnetic base with a V-groove, this compact tool is great for a variety of applications. The GO! smart’s Bluetooth® interface means you have access to additional functions with the free SOLA Measures app. The GO! smart measures gradients and angles with maximum precision. Its compact size and integrated magnets make the device ideal for adjusting or confirming the angle of saw blades. Developed to meet the highest standards of accuracy, the GO! smart ensures precisely measured cutting angles for miters joints.

Thermal Brick Support (TBS) System
Hohmann & Barnard

Our Thermal Brick Support (TBS) System is a groundbreaking brick veneer support system that reduces thermal bridging in shelf angles, improving the energy efficiency of your building. TBS can be installed by the mason contractor, and kept on scaffolding, rather than hoisted up by heavy machinery. It is installed after the air barrier, reducing detailing time. TBS comes with shop drawings and all bolts, brackets and shims. The scope of work and profit for the mason contractor is increased considerably.

Bricklayer’s Apprentice Tool Kit

Aspiring masons looking for a complete set of high-quality masonry tools should look no further. With the MARSHALLTOWN Bricklayer’s Apprentice Tool Kit, masons have every tool needed from a brick trowel to a masonry brush. With these tools, a mason can achieve a professional finish on any masonry job. 

Every kit includes an 11” London Brick Trowel, a 6” x 2 ¾” Pointing Trowel, a 5” x 2” Margin Trowel, and a ½” x ⅝” Brick Jointer. Additionally, each kit has Wood Line Blocks, a Mason’s Line Winder with 250’ of braided line, a Masonry Brush, and a Joint Raker. Every kit comes with a durable nylon bag and easily fits all eight tools. The MARSHALLTOWN masonry trowels, brushes, and brick jointers are made in the USA with global materials. Check out marshalltown.com for more information.

Gatorback® Mortar Boards

Every mason uses a mortar board to hold mortar or stucco and transport the material to where it is being used. Mortar boards are designed to keep material at an optimal consistency while you are on the job. Oriented strand board (OSB) used to be the first choice for mortar boards, but now advanced polymer mortar boards are the standard, especially the Gatorback® Mortar Boards. 

The Gatorback® Mortar Boards have a heavy-duty construction with reinforced ribbed backing to withstand heavy loads of up to 150 pounds with little flex. Made of advanced polymer, these mortar boards are lightweight with an integrated handle for easy transportation and comfort. They are water-resistant and won’t soak up moisture (like OSB boards), which extends the workability of the material by as much as 30 minutes. Additionally, these boards are UV-resistant and will last in hot climates, as well as colder climates. These lime green boards stand out in the masonry industry because of their high-quality construction and features. Check out marshalltown.com for more information.

iQ Power Tools

iQ Power Tools presents the iQ1550™ the industry’s first 21.5” dry-cut masonry saw with integrated dust collection. It features a 21.5” Q-Drive blade with an 8” depth and a full 16” length of cut.

The iQ1550™ can tackle any jobsite; dry cutting and eliminating the dust cloud, allowing workers to increase efficiency and productivity while maintaining a safe work environment.

Equipped with a 230v Super Duty 3 HP saw motor and 3HP vac motor, it can handle cutting through 8” wall blocks and capture the dust. Its integrated dust collection chamber holds 75 pounds of dust and with the automatic filter cleaning system... maintenance is simple. Highly portable, the iQ1550™ is equipped with high-floatation tires, forklift pockets, and a center lift point to make transportation easy.


M12™ Heated AXIS™ Hooded Jacket
Milwaukee Tools

The next generation of Milwaukee Tool’s M12™ Heated AXIS™ Jackets deliver heat built for lightweight insulation. Redesigned to reach full warmth in 2.5 minutes for 3X faster heat controlled with a one-touch LED, three-temperature setting button. The AXIS™ heated gear lineup provides full heat to the chest and back through durable, lightweight carbon fiber heating elements. Built to withstand the jobsite, the jackets and vests feature improved durability and construction with 5X more durable fabric than previous generations, reinforced high-wear zones, and a new hood design. When powered by an M12™ REDLITHIUM™ 3.0 battery, the jacket has 50% more run-time over the previous generations when on low power setting.

The next generation of heated gear demonstrates Milwaukee’s continued commitment to delivering purposeful user-driver innovation of best-in-class heated gear to meet the demands of the jobsite. With Milwaukee’s designed and developed materials, each innovation within the heated gear category delivers products that are jobsite built to conquer real-world applications. Learn more at https://www.milwaukeetool.com/Products/Work-Gear/Heated-Gear/205-21

Uplift Exoskeleton 
Fraco & Mawashi 

After a lot of R&D, and testing on site with bricklayers, Fraco is now ready to present the finalized version of the UpLift Exoskeleton, by Mawashi. The passive exoskeleton, designed specially for bricklayers, prevents musculoskeletal disorders by assisting the back, shoulders and knees without batteries or electronics. Its versatile system allows users to protect their body from injury, and enhance their endurance. Thanks to its design, it reduces muscular activation, muscular discomfort and there is up to 20% reduction in perceived effort. Its key benefits are less risk of musculoskeletal disorders, less fatigue, more endurance and more job longevity!

This product is a complement of the Fraco mast climbers that were designed to assist bricklayers in building walls. Fraco’s goal is always to protect and help end users, and their hope is that this suit will shape the future of masonry. Come see the Exoskeleton at World of Concrete, at Booth C3427.

Terra Sentry 2020 6” Internal Met Guard Boot
Terra Footwear

META-TOTAL PROTECTIONTough as they come, with combat boot styling that hints at the fortress inside: a full-length XRD® Internal Met Guard. The full-grain waterproof leather is seam sealed, so the elements don’t stand a chance. Finishing the job, a composite KRYPTOE® safety toe and composite plate combine with the TecTuff™ leather back panel and heavy-duty TPU outsole for safety, abrasion resistance and traction like never before. Feel free to call out our new website terrafootwear.com with shipping to Canada and the US.


SOLA Measures

Work more efficiently and save time with the free SOLA Measures app. The Bluetooth interface syncs the BIG RED digital spirit levels and the SOLA GO! Smart with the free “SOLA Measures” app, giving the user access to useful functions. For example, measured values can be transferred to a mobile device in real time and functions on the digital level can be controlled via the app. With each measurement taken, real-time data (such as date and time) are automatically recorded in the app’s measured value memory. It is also possible to upload notes, photos or videos for every measurement and to share these quickly and easily. The user-friendly menu navigation makes the app intuitive and easy to use.

New Feature:
Select Which Status A Job Is In

CrewTracks Field Management Software

CrewTracks field management software has evolved with masonry in mind for years, and we keep innovating based on our vision and your feedback. These are some of the features we’ve added: job types and templates, simplified photo exports, upload photos from web, web document editor, mass and auto-allocate time, clock status report, job notifications, photos in documents, view jobs by customer in mobile app, edit photos in mobile app, and select all copies of a document for export. And our newest feature, job status. This allows companies to see which status the job you are working on is in. For further information about these features, visit crewtracks.com/blog and use the search bar to find a feature.

Panasonic Connect

The TOUGHBOOK 40 from Panasonic Connect is a fully rugged, modular laptop designed to address the evolving needs of today’s mobile worker. The TOUGHBOOK 40, along with its suite of intelligent software solutions, delivers enhanced processing power, wireless capabilities, and battery life. Combined with state-of-the-art design, optimized thermals, and MIL-STD-810H and IP66 build, it keeps utility, field service and masonry workers connected in any environment, from extreme heat to cold rain. Workers benefit from 95db speakers, 5MP infrared webcam, and tetra-array microphones for optimal performance whether on-site, in-vehicle or in-office. The TOUGHBOOK 40 allows workers to focus time and energy on what truly matters: customers. For more information on how the TOUGHBOOK 40 can empower your workforce, visit: na.panasonic.com/TOUGHBOOK40.

Hourly App

This simple-to-use app allows employees to keep track of their hours while on the job, enabling a manager or business owner to run payroll with a few clicks of the mouse. Then, the software can be used to make an exact payment to workers’ comp—eliminating the guesswork and potentially saving money and time. The data collected by the app on labor costs allows managers to assess the current state of a project and ensure that budgets are being adhered to and work is progressing as it should.


By combining Bluetooth® asset tags, cloud-based software and Field Resource Management Solutions ON!Track allows you to solve problems related to asset and workforce management, including managing assets, consumables, service and repair needs, workers, and safety certifications - anywhere, anytime, on any device. “There’s no question the construction industry would benefit from being digitalized,” said Samantha Smith, Hilti Tool Services Product Manager. “We must keep up with the technology available to us or risk falling behind. Solutions like Hilti ON!Track help enable jobsites to operate smoothly while saving time and money.” For instance, project managers are now able to monitor tool utilization rates, recognize when assets are no longer needed and transfer them to another project, eliminating the need for unnecessary purchases.


Trackunit’s second-generation Spot device will transform the non-powered construction equipment segment with a range of enhanced and new features including Bluetooth 5.2, fast setup, instant connectivity with next-gen capability of battery-powered assets. The Spot IoT device bridges the connectivity gap between Trackunit's Raw and Kin products. Trackunit’s Spot is engineered to meet the rugged environmental demands of the off-highway sector. The self-contained, battery-powered device works independent of machine power and provides customers a 5G-ready solution that is easy to install and immediately connects equipment of all shapes and sizes. The new Spot device doubles battery life and increases connectivity and visibility to the full fleet, significantly reducing operating costs and increasing utilization of every single machine in real-time enabling Equipment and Site Managers to quickly locate assets at depots and worksites using the Trackunit platform. Visit Trackunit.com to learn more.

Are Your Employees Safe While Working In Hot Weather?

As the temperatures rise outside during summer months, so do the risks that employees working in hot conditions may be harmed by the dangerous effects it can have. Exposure to high temperatures can be deadly.1 It’s your responsibility as a business owner

Maximizing Efficiency with CrewTracks

In the masonry industry, efficient project management is crucial for success. CrewTracks addresses this need by streamlining various aspects of daily operations.

SOLA Innovation: Digital Levels

In 2021, SOLA introduced a new generation of digital levels at the World of Concrete. Because it was in the midst of Covid it wasn’t the most well-attended show, but we were optimistic. We attended, showcasing both our SOLA and Keson brands. The standout

Bonding with Masonry 2024 Q2

This issue’s questions come from an Architect, an Engineer. and a Mason Contractor. What questions do you have? Send them to info@masonrymagazine.com, attention Technical Talk.