Arbortech AS160 Brick and Mortar Saw
Arbortech, an Australian company, has come out with the most innovative tool we've seen in a long while: the Arbortech AS160 brick and mortar saw. It's a really cool looking item and it's got a lot going for it. It cuts brick, wood, stone, fiber cement, and plastic, and it is capable of a plunge cut that your grinder can only dream of making.
The backbone of the AS160 technology is the manner in which it cuts. The tool uses two blades, situated right next to one another, that cut and hammer in an orbital, forward-facing pattern. This not only gives great versatility as far as cutting and plunge-cutting go, but according to Arbortech, this configuration also creates much less dust than a traditional grinder and allows the cut to be done dry.
Although the AS160 works with a variety of materials, its specialty is brick and mortar. The AS160 can plunge cut to a depth of 4-3/4" which blows away any grinder we've ever used. Not only is the depth impressive, but because of the blade set-up, the saw can cut a clean square corner in situations where a grinder would either leave material in the corner to be hammered out later or would have to be over cut, creating a cut line to be dealt with later.
Another bonus of the unique blade system is that it cuts through hard materials, but is less effective on soft ones, like flesh. We're not saying it would be wise to jam your hand into the blades, but we'd wager that you'd fare better with a nick from the AS160 than with one from a 4-1/2 angle grinder. We also imagine that the AS160 doesn't have that "wrestling a pit bull" feel that we get when we use grinders on brick and stone; that continual struggle between control and losing a hand.
There is no doubt that the Arbortech AS160 is an incredible tool, but to get one, you've got to pay incredible tool prices. The AS160 retails for $1,065. This price puts the tool out of the reaches of the occasional DIYer and into the hands of the serious professional or hobbyist. If it looks like something that you would use, we'd wager that the cost/save analysis works out in favor of the AS160 fairly quickly. It looks to be safer, cleaner, and more versatile and efficient than traditional methods.
The AS160 comes with:
1 set of general purpose blades
1 set of plunge blades
1 set of tuckpointing blades
Switchbox blades and wood blades are also available.
Make sure to check out the cool movie that Arbortech has of the AS160 in action.
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Posted by Doug Mahoney at May 8, 2007 5:10 AM