|A newly invented pneumatic tool for laying floorboards should provide you with customers packed to the rafters…
It’s about time – for decades we’ve had the technology to send a man to the moon, but only now has reliable power-assisted floor laying become possible.
Caption: Pneumatic pressure helps produce consistent results in half the time
This new invention, marketed as Nobow®, is the brainchild of ACT resident Paul Gaunt, who started his career 18 years ago as a cabinet maker. Paul has since become a self-trained specialist flooring repairer and fitter, following employment at B&W Flooring in Brookvale, NSW, before he shifted to Canberra in the late 1990s.
Over the years, Paul says, one aspect of the flooring business always puzzled him: the need to use a hammer and chisel to block in and secure every floorboard during the laying process. He says the problem was particularly acute when dealing with recycled timbers such as blackbutt boards, which can be more than a century old and feature significant bowing, warping and bending.
Three years ago Paul conceptualised the Nobow® to reduce the time-consuming practice of manual clamping and straightening. Nobow® is a pneumatic device that forces each floorboard into position precisely and firmly. Following exhaustive research and development with Canberra-based Scandia Flooring and added consulting with Thor's Hammer, the first prototype was fashioned. Production is now up and running in Australia and an application has been lodged for an international patent.
The machine is essentially a horizontal, extendable/retractable brace. The user positions the base of the unit next to a wall or similar hard surface, and then activates the arm so it extends and pushes hard against the next floorboard to be laid. The flat head, which is configured with blocks to suit different board shapes and sizes, clamps each board in place.
When the length has been fastened, simply flick the lever to withdraw the arm; the next board is ready for positioning…
The device can work over large areas thanks to extension poles (up to 10m). Stainless steel clips (originally made for high-specification windsurfer applications) hold the poles in place as required. All the user has to do is remove individual extensions as the job draws closer to the base wall.
According to Paul Gaunt, Managing Director of Nobow ®Floor Tool, the speed at which the arm extends and retracts is adjustable, so the degree of force applied to each length of timber can be reset depending on the softness or “level of difficulty” of the timber.
“The good thing about Nobow® is that it can be used with air compressors producing 100 to 145psi,” Paul says, adding that a regulator keeps applied pressures constant and even. Furthermore, tradespeople with nail guns can operate these units in tandem – both tools can run simultaneously from a single compressor.
Paul has used the device on multiple flooring projects and has hired out to both professionals and handypersons, with positive feedback. The benefits, he says, are threefold: jobs are completed with greater accuracy and consistency; tasks take about half the time; and tradespeople with minimal experience can use the tool without the added costs of supervision.
All these savings in time and money help both contractors and customers, leading to healthier returns.
“I don’t advertise and I’ve got plenty of work,” he explains. “As far as professionals are concerned, the device will pay for itself after a couple of big jobs due to the time and labour savings. The results are better and I can go off to another job and leave a good worker behind safe in the knowledge that nothing will go wrong.”
Nobow® is suitable for professionals and top-end DIYers, though hire companies and wholesalers should also reap rewards from stocking Nobow® in their ranges.
For more information visit www.nobow.com.au
By John Power