The business of building is nothing if not a daily exercise in problem solving, and when an answer is not to hand then the trades are adept at fashioning their own. Most of the time these bespoke toolbox additions remain the exclusive preserve of their creator, but occasionally a determined individual will have the drive to develop the idea for the industry at large – and one such is certainly Gary Nicholls and his Profiler+®.
The Surrey-based tradesman was already well-versed in the need for the right tools for the job, operating a successful bespoke kitchen and bedroom installation business with his cabinetmaking father from the mid ‘90s. “We provided a design, manufacture and install service on a whole range of custom-made cabinetry,” explains the 50year-old inventor, “and it was when working on the family firm that the idea for the Profiler+® first began to evolve.”
“We were fitting a kitchen into a rather rustic rural property, where all of the internal walls featured exposed stone. When it came to installing the infill panel between the tall oven unit and the wall, we ended up spending a good couple of hours trying to mirror the shape of the wall onto the material in order to then cut it. It’s something that no doubt many tradespeople can identify with when on this kind of project, and it was then that I thought there must be a better way.”
At that stage Gary’s only concern was to fashion a makeshift device that could help out on that particular job, and that very evening he improvised with the cardboard from a Cadbury’s chocolate box to do just that. With all his previous experience of scribing, however, it didn’t take long to realise that a rather more refined version would attract much wider appeal. “This was before the age of the internet, so it took some time to research what was already out there, but a tool with the kind of functionality that I envisaged just didn’t seem to exist, and even today many trades will still be resorting to a block of wood and a pencil, or a drawing compass.”
That theme of improvisation was reflected in Gary’s own early prototypes, graduating first from cardboard, to a block of wood with an old Scalextric wheel attached, before a cousin contributed by creating a working model in metal. “When I had something that looked more professional – and was able to present the idea to the patent office – that was the point at which I realised there was actually a commercially viable product here. Of course, since then the Profiler+® has been repeatedly improved, and I probably went through at least ten versions until we settled on the definitive edition.”
Like many fledgling inventors, Gary quickly discovered that the process of patenting and finding a manufacturer was far more onerous than he could have envisaged. It’s been a long journey, but his scribing tool has been finding favour with the trades since its launch in 2015 – but just how does it work?
“The guiding principle of the Profiler+® is simplicity, not only for the end user, but also so it could be manufactured by injection moulding cost-effectively. There were certain criteria it had to satisfy, such as adjusting to different sizes of pencil (2 – 12mm), and when running the tool down a wall it was important that it didn’t damage a painted or wall-papered surface. The design needed to be compact, durable and easy to grip, with smooth action wheels that could effortlessly glide over long lengths. Accuracy is always king for a carpenter, and a precision tip that could cope with complex profiles was also a must. A drawing compass means you can create perfect circles, whilst a moveable pencil holder gives you the ability of setting the exact distance you’re looking for.”
Gary’s first ever prototype solved a particular problem on an infill panel, but there are a multitude of applications, whether that’s on worktops, plinths, gables, or wood and laminate flooring. If you’re tiling and paving then the Profiler+® will be your friend, whilst it will equally find a place in increasingly popular van conversions. “When you have no experience of manufacturing it’s quite daunting to try and project manage that process,” Gary concludes, “and that’s without considering the like of distribution and marketing. Watching it grow, and the feedback I get from end users, is the reward. That’s what kept me going – the positive reactions I get from anyone who’s used the tool.”
For further information on the Profiler+® visit scribe-tool.com/