Choosing the Right Tool for the Job

Words: Dan Kamys

Saws>>> Case Study


Let’s face it, at one time or another, we have found ourselves overwhelmed on a project and, ultimately, falling behind schedule. When this happens, we try everything to figure out a way to get back on schedule. Sometimes we hire more people, sometimes we work longer hours, and other times we try to find a better tool to finish the job.

The challenge

Cutting about 60 openings for wall-mounted HVAC units can be a time-consuming job, and one can easily fall behind if the proper tools are not used. The contractor on this job was using a chainsaw to cut through eight-inch block with a standard four-inch brick veneer surface. The chainsaw was slower than anticipated, mostly due to the fact that the chainsaw required two operators to work on an opening. Both workers were needed so they could switch when one got tired from cutting, or could help when the chain required tightening and, of course, when removing the block and brick. Another issue that slowed the chainsaw was the encountering of rebar and pipes, which were not consistent with information at hand. All these factors were leading the job to fall behind on a tight schedule.

The contractor had to find a way to increase productivity and get his crew back on track. The first solution was to add another chainsaw, but the cost of operating it was prohibitive. Ultimately, the contractor decided he not only needed additional people, he also needed a different tool. Stanley Baldwin, owner of Baldwin Concrete Cutting, was called in to give the contractor a much needed boost. Baldwin is well-respected in the concrete cutting industry, with more than 25 years of working experience. His knowledge of masonry tools helped to determine exactly what was needed for this particular job. He came to the jobsite equipped with his Husqvarna K650 Cut-n-Break and K750 14-inch power cutters. “The Cut-n-Break is more than a power cutter; it is basically a new technique that changed the way I approach cutting an opening.” Baldwin says. “It is able to cut efficiently through the various materials, which saves time.” Baldwin adds that the K650 is unlike most power cutters. The two, twin 9-inch blades, along with the blade guard, allow the saw to cut deeper than most saws, up to 16 inches deep. The Cut-n-Break method, the technique used to cut with the saw, involves cutting in stages until the appropriate depth is reached. Each cut can be up to 2.5 inches deep and 3/4-inch wide. Due to the two blades, a core is formed in the saw cut and is easily removed with the accompanying breaking tool. When the core has been removed, successive cuts can be made until the required depth is reached. saw

The result

The use of both power cutters enabled the workers to finish cutting the openings for the HVAC units faster than with the chainsaw, simply because the tools were better-suited to this type of job and the cutting technique. Two workers were still required; however, each one could work effectively toward finishing the openings. The use of two power cutters allowed each worker to cut an opening. While the K750 removed the brick veneer from one opening, the Cut-n-Break would follow and finish the opening. When the operator was finished removing the brick veneer, he could then use the breaking tool and remove the debris that was manageable for one person. This enabled the Cut-n-Break to move around to each opening and cut without stopping. Both workers were more productive, and they could work more smoothly and quickly.

“All around, the Cut-n-Break far exceeded my expectations,” Baldwin says. “It performed the way that I needed it to, and working as a team the way we did, we were able to get the job back on schedule, which was the goal.” The chainsaw is a powerful tool and, in the right application, it is the best tool for the job. The chainsaw seemed to be the best tool to handle cutting these openings, but the unseen obstacles that presented themselves on the jobsite showed that this tool was not going to work. It takes experience and knowledge to understand that, sometimes, tools that appear not to fit a particular project are actually the best ones for the job when coupled with a good plan. Not only did the power cutters and Cut-n-Break technique save time and put the job back on schedule, but also the contractor saved several thousand dollars. Sometimes, the right selection of tools makes all the difference.
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