From the time the calendar rolls from December to January, we have World of Concrete on the brain. As the largest show we attend each year, it gives us the chance to use many tools that we’ll put through a full review later in the year. Narrowing down our list to the top 10 best tools at World of Concrete 2020 is about as tough as picking the top 10 fans that don’t want to see the Patriots win another Super Bowl. Fortunately, we’re up to the task.
The Top 10
- Skilsaw Cordless 10-1/4″ Worm Drive Circular Saw
- Makita Cordless 9″ Power Cutter
- Hilti Tracefast Smart Concrete Fasteners
- SkyMul Rebar Tying Drone
- Bosch Cordless Track Saw
- DeWalt Cordless 1-3/4″ SDS-Max Rotary Hammer
- Fraco Passive Exoskeleton
- Kato CES Battery-Powered Mini Excavator
- RedArt Technologies CNC Routing Concrete Art
- Rattle Stick Float and Screed System
Top 10 Best Tools at World of Concrete 2019
Skilsaw 48V True HVL 10-1/4” Worm Drive
On the heels of their 7-1/4” worm drive’s powerful entry into the cordless market, Skilsaw showed off their 10-1/4” model. It’s a true worm drive rather than the worm drive style saws that other manufacturers have.
Similar to the Sawsquatch but lacking a cord, this saw is capable of cutting 4×4 in a single pass. There’s definitely no lack of power and it’s remarkably easy to wield for such a large-diameter saw.
Look for it in October 2020 with a price around $799 with two 48V, 5.0Ah batteries.
Makita 18V X2 LXT 9” Power Cutter
Makita’s cordless power cutter shares similar features with other cordless models, but this model incorporates an electronic clutch control rather than a mechanical one. It also includes Automatic Feedback Technology and uses the same 80mm brushless motor as Makita’s 1-9/16″ 18V X2 rotary hammer.
We had the opportunity to do some cutting and it’s a remarkably smooth cutting experience. The chatter we expected simply wasn’t there. Much like Makita’s circular saws, its premium design is something you can feel when you’re using it.
Pricing is still TBA.
Hilti Tracefast Smart Concrete Fasteners
Hilti had several new innovations to show us, including their first cordless breaker. What impressed us even more was the announcement of a smart fastener system.
Hilti’s Connect App reads the unique Digital Matrix Code on each fastener end so you know where it’s installed. You can bring up specs to see exactly how much torque to apply and report with certainty that it’s correct.
It’s just the tip of the iceberg, though. As we move forward, imagine a system where you spec everything in BIM, fastening with a tool that dials in the torque, and that tool communicating with the system through your phone to complete reports and track progress as you go. Thanks to this new smart fastener system, we’re getting closer to realizing it.
SkyMul Rebar Tying Drone
The SkyMul rebar tying drone does exactly what the name indicates – it flies around a concrete build and ties rebar point by point. You layout the boundaries via computer and let single or multiple drones do the work. You just need someone to manage battery charging and wire refills.
This one is in the prototype stage and we expect retail prices to run around $35,000 when it’s ready to hit the market.
Bosch 18V Cordless Track Saw
We’re fans of Bosch’s corded track saw and now they’re ready to introduce a cordless model. The overall form factor and controls are the same, but there are a few improvements worth noting.
The big one in an electronic speed selection system to help you match your blade speed to the material you’re cutting. When you’re cutting soft or thin material, you can kick into Eco mode and get an extra 30% runtime out of your batteries.
In addition to this model, Bosch also showed off a couple of new cordless circular saws, one of which is track-ready and has a super-easy depth control on the handle.
Keep your eyes open for pricing and availability.
DeWalt 60V Max FlexVolt 1-3/4” SDS-Max Combination Hammer
In between DeWalt’s smaller FlexVolt rotary hammers and its cordless 2” SDS-Max powerhouse is where the new FlexVolt 1-3/4” SDS-Max combination hammer sits. With 10.5 Joules of impact energy (7.7 ft-lbs), it has an excellent combination of size and power that makes it a great option as your go-to cordless SDS-Max model.
It’s part of DeWalt’s Perform and Protect line with solid vibration control, an e-clutch to stop the tool in a bind-up, and integrated wireless tool control to kick a vac on without the need for a remote.
Look for it in March 2020, retailing for $599 bare or $899 with two 9.0/3.0Ah FlexVolt batteries.
Fraco Passive Exoskeleton
We’ve seen some glimpses of exoskeleton systems to help with lifting and now we’re seeing it face-to-face! The concept revolves around letting contractors work longer and with fewer injuries to help bridge the skilled labor gap. This hybrid system combines passive and quasi-passive actuation to support and assist the mason’s arm—reducing stress on the body.
The Fraco exoskeleton supports up to 15 lbs per arm (outstretched) and up to 26 lbs per arm at the elbow. There’s a lot going on that you can check out for yourself, but the video tells a lot of the story.
You can contact Fraco directly for additional details. You can preorder the upper body configuration for around $6,650. Eventually, the full-body version will be available for around $10,000.
KATO-CES VXB Lithium-Ion Mini Excavator
Compact Excavator Sales (CES) out of Elizabethtown, Kentucky had its 9VXB lithium-ion powered mini excavator on display. Firmly planted on my Christmas wish list, its 12” bucket has a digging force of 2360 pounds.
It’s capable of working up to 8 hours (roughly 5-1/2 hours of continuous digging). An hour of charging at lunch nets you about 3 hours of working time and you only need a 110V supply for charging.
This model runs right at $48,000 and it has a bigger brother that’s $57,000. Get more details from the KATO-CES website.
RedArt Technologies CNC Routing Concrete Art
There were plenty of decorative concrete concepts at World of Concrete this year, but none with the kind of results we saw from Red Art Technologies. Using a Makita router and a CNC design, it created images and text in its concrete pad that were simply outstanding compared to other methods.
The CNC Pro system runs $15,000. Find out more information here.
Rattle Stick Float and Screed System
The Rattle Stick connects between your float and handle to give it additional vibration. The benefit is that it gives you a smooth finish with more consistent results in just one pass instead of three or four.
It’s a time-saver that keeps your crew more productive and runs on DeWalt, Makita, or Milwaukee 18V/20V Max batteries with more in the works. The Rattle Stick EX Modern Finishing System runs $1570 direct from www.rattlestick.net.
That’s our Top 10 Best Tools at World of Concrete 2020. Did you see something from the show that we should have included? Tell us about it in the comments below!