Carpenter, Harry Radford talks to Professional Builder’s Lee Jones about a new invention for the trades
Builders are certainly no strangers to tight spots. A compact conservatory space or loft can present particular difficulties if you’re in the business of cutting lengths of OSB, ply or plasterboard, for example, but one tradesman thinks he has a simple and very effective answer.
Like any time-served chippie, for Harry Radford a guide rail is an indispensable piece of kit for accurately cutting board materials with a plunge saw but it’s not always a straightforward proposition to find a convenient area in which to manoeuvre the workpiece into a flat position. His solution – which he has called Rail Stay – is a simple clamp system that attaches to the guide rail and the workpiece. An angled bradawl point ensures that, as you pull on the rail, the device clamps tighter, without damaging the material, and it is fastened with exactly the same Allen key that would be used to adjust a circular saw.
“If you can’t find a horizontal and secure space to cut sheets, then you’ll frequently need to be doing the work away from the job, and that’s not ideal, especially if you happen to be up scaffolding, or a few flights of stairs. The answer is to be able to use a plunge saw with the board in an upright position and that’s what our product facilitates. It means you can make rip and vertical cuts on a length of OSB to the right dimensions pretty much anywhere and, at the same time, be sure in the knowledge that it will be accurate. We’ve also found it very useful for cutting doors that have already been installed, and a low profile of just 18mm means you can make the cut without interfering with the sheets beneath.”
Harry had the germ of the idea more than two years ago, and has since proved its efficacy with a home-made prototype that has given him valuable service on his own carpentry projects. When he showed it to other builders the Gloucestershire-based tradesman was convinced that he’d found a solution for the industry at large, and not just those working with wood, as he explains: “I know dryliners and spreaders who will use a guide rail to score and cut plasterboard because, unlike a 6ft straight edge, they will fold down, and are far more transportable, so this is something that would work for those trades as well. In fact, anyone using board material of some kind would find a use for it. We’re in the process of securing a patent on the product and already have three tool stores on board to stock with many more interested. Like all the best solutions it’s a relatively simple thing, but it’s still been two years of work to perfect the design.”