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10 underrated tools every contractor should have
Every contractor knows to bring a hammer, tape measure, and level to a job site. And most trade workers carry a multi-tool on a daily basis. But the best contractors know that their "secret weapons" in the field save them time and money.
Here are the top 10 tools every contractor should have on the job.
1. Moisture meter
Moisture meters monitor the water content, usually in wood. Some moisture meters can detect water in drywall and concrete, so depending on your trade, this could be an essential tool on the job site.
Pro Tip: Most meters are designed using pins to detect moisture. Other "pinless" designs use different technology, but companies like Calculated Industries make dual "pin and pinless" models. This allows you to double-check your results faster, and workaround common calibration issues.
2. Utility knife
Another universal tool for contractors: the utility knife. Investing in a high-quality utility knife pays dividends in the long run. Keep a pack of spare blades on hand and clean your knife frequently. A good utility knife can last a lifetime if properly maintained.
3. Laser level
Digital laser levels allow for easy adjustments and ensure precise lines. While a traditional level can get the job done in many instances, bigger projects often require more technically capable tools.
Pro Tip: If your work requires multiple level lines, many digital lasers can emit two or three beams simultaneously. Non-tech-savvy builders should go with a self-leveling digital laser. If you work outdoors, test out your level in direct sunlight before making a purchase.
4. Butane torch
How many times have you pulled out a lighter in your pocket to make a quick fix in the field? A pocket-size butane torch might be the professional upgrade you need for your toolbox.
5. Dust collector
Sure, a shop vacuum might do the trick for most jobs, but if you work in dusty environments on a regular basis, it may be time to invest in a dust collector. These machines collect particles in the air to keep your work site clean and safe.
Pro Tip: Not every job requires an industrial-strength dust collector. Concrete and other construction industries are often required to maintain safe air quality levels. If you have specific tools that are responsible for creating a majority of the dust, some collectors have attachments that connect directly to the tool.
6. Hammer drill
The hammer drill is an underrated power tool. Capable of drilling holes and screws into brick, metal, stone, wood and other surfaces, it's like a jackhammer, impact driver, and power drill in your hand.
Pro Tip: Ask yourself, what are the most important capabilities you require in a hammer drill? Lightweight or heavy-duty? Corded or cordless? "Hammer Mode" is best for concrete, brick, and stonework while "Drive Mode" is ideal for low-power applications like driving screws into wood.
7. Work light with stand
Still using a handheld flashlight? That will work some of the time, but experienced contractors know that proper lighting is essential in the field. A sturdy work light with a stand allows for elevated, mobile lighting and could save you from costly delays.
8. Voltage tester
Contractors encounter live wires all the time. Whether it's an old house with a mystery line in the wall, or a shoddy DIY renovation, it's important to have a way to safely test electrical wires.
Pro Tip: Non-contact voltage testers are the safest way to go. Some models have infrared thermometers, led light indicators, and auto-shutoff features. Get a voltage tester that can test a wide range, as some models have trouble detecting very low voltage.
9. Personal protective equipment
Not only is personal protective equipment (PPE) required by law in many instances, it also shows your clients that you are a professional company that prioritizes worker safety. Technology has made great strides in improving PPE. Review OSHA's PPE requirements and ensure that your company is compliant.
10. Digital drawing and estimation tool
If your company is spending a lot of time drawing site plans and generating quotes, the traditional pen-and-paper method might be slowing you down. Digital drawing and estimation tools make creating drawings, automating estimates, and collaborating with team members and clients easier and more efficient.
Pro Tip: ArcSite's digital drawing and estimation tool takes pen and paper out of the equations. With your products and prices built into your site plans, generating a professional proposal is done with the tap of a button.