The reciprocating saw is the most popular corded power tool among CONTRACTOR readers with 90.6% of respondents to the 2005 CONTRACTOR Power Tool Study saying that they use the tool; 63.4% say they also use a cordless model. Close behind is the corded circular saw with 90.1% usage among readers; 56.5% of respondents also use a cordless model.
The survey also asked readers about the amount of usage of each power tool. So, while 90.1% of respondents say they use corded circular saws, only 15.7% describe themselves as heavy users of the tool. In contrast, 56.2% say they are heavy users of corded reciprocating saws, and just 10.1% describe themselves as light users of the tool.
Among users of cordless saws in the survey, 28.4% say they are heavy users of reciprocating saws while 7.2% describe themselves as heavy users of circular saws. More than a third (34.7%) say they are light users of cordless circular saws compared to 15.2% who say they are light users of cordless reciprocating saws.
Overall, the most popular cordless tools among respondents are power drills and drill drivers, with both tools being used by about three of four readers, 76.9% and 74.9% respectively. After the saws mentioned above, the next most popular cordless tools are hammer drills (51.5%), rotary hammers (22.9%) and demolition hammers (16.5%).
Half the respondents (50.4%) say they are heavy users of cordless drill drivers. That’s just a little more than the 46.3% who say they are heavy users of cordless power drills. Among users of cordless hammer drills, 14.6% describe themselves as heavy users.
For the cordless tools, most contractors prefer an 18-volt battery pack, which is used by 81.3% of respondents. Other popular battery packs are: 14.4-volt (used by 42.5% of respondents), 24-volt (28.6%), 12-volt (24.1%) and 9.6-volt (14.4%).
In the corded category, after the saws, the next most popular items are: hammer drills (used by 89.6% of respondents), power drills (85.6%) and demolition hammers (78.5%). Other corded tools in common use among CONTRACTOR readers are: drill drivers (73.7%), rotary hammers (72.7%), pipe-threading machines (72.2%), pipe-cutting machines (63.8%), drain-cleaning machines (49.6%) and floor drivers (34.9%).
In the corded drill category, 43.3% of respondents say they are heavy users of power drills. About a third describe themselves as heavy users of hammer drills (36.5%) and drill drivers (32.2%).
Among users of other corded power tools, about a quarter say they are heavy users of pipe-threading machines (27.8%) and pipe-cutting machines (25.3%). About 16% of respondents are heavy users of drain-cleaning machines.
CONTRACTOR readers spend, on average, $18,805 a year on power tools, according to the survey conducted earlier this year among the magazine’s readers.
Most of those purchases are made through the traditional supply chain: 42.6% of power tools are bought at industrial supply houses and another 11.5% through plumbing wholesalers, the research states. That number is down, however, from our survey last year when 49.3% of respondents told us that they bought their power tools from an industrial distributor and 15.5% said they purchased them from their plumbing wholesaler.
Retailers appear to be capturing a bigger share of the professional power tool market: 28.1% of contractors in this year’s survey say they purchase their tools at retail compared with 20.2% in 2004. Contractors buying tools over the Internet also is rising with 6.5% of respondents saying they buy tools online, up from 5.7% last year. Catalog purchases have remained steady with 6% of contractors saying they buy tools that way, a slight dip from 6.5% in 2004.
CONTRACTOR sent the survey by e-mail to 16% of its readers. Two-thirds of respondents list their title as owner, president or vice president. Among the goals of the research was to determine:
- The annual expenditure on power tools and where they are typically purchased;
- The level of use of various corded and cordless power tools;
- The voltage of battery packs used to recharge cordless tools;
- The types of contracting work the reader is engaged in; and
- The percentage of the respondent’s work that is new construction vs. retrofit/remodeling.
The respondents to the survey say that 60.2% of their construction activity is remodeling or retrofit work and 39.8% comes from new construction. The average number of people employed by the respondents is 53.
With obvious overlap, 78.4% of respondents say they perform commercial work and 77.9% say they do residential. Results from the same questions show that 36.6% work on industrial projects and 27.4% perform institutional work.
Two-thirds of respondents say they do plumbing work, and 45.8% specify that they remodel baths and kitchens. More than half (53%) work on hydronic heating systems; 38.1% of respondents specify that they do radiant floor heating; and 17.8% say they install or service snow-melt systems.
Among all respondents, 24.5% do process piping; 18.3% derive business from private water systems; and 12.4% work on fire sprinkler systems.