When he’s on the job, there can be nothing more important to the scaffolder than his scaffold spanners and other tools. If scaffold spanners fail or a spirit level drops off the scaffold, it will cost time and money to put that right. In some cases, it could be dangerous too. So how does a scaffolder go about choosing his tools?
Over the years, I’ve served hundreds of scaffolders here at Gilray Plant, some working for others and some running their own business. Either way, choosing the right tools is a vital part of their job. But it’s not an easy choice! Take the humble spanner for instance. We have around 30 different spanners on our books, each one capable of doing the same job. Cheap and cheerful for £10 or titanium for lightness and longevity at £60? Hex or bi-hex? Ratchet or not? 19/21 or 21/23? And don’t get me started on handles!
Round, flat, poka or shaped? It may be that cost will be the deciding factor, particularly for the younger scaffolder just starting out, but mostly it boils down to sheer personal preference. That’s not always the case though. Take the spirit level for example. A cheap one may cost as little as £6 whereas a Stabila with earth magnets would set you back £24. Here, though, there is a clear difference. Rare-earth magnets are strong permanent magnets made from alloys of rare earth elements. Developed in the 1970s and ’80s, rare-earth magnets are the strongest type of permanent magnets made, producing significantly stronger magnetic fields than other types such as the ferrite or alnico magnets you might find in cheaper levels. Obviously, a strong and reliable magnet is essential, so that they don’t fall to the ground while you’re trying to use them, and possibly causing human or material damage. So it may seem to be a huge difference in price, but my bet is that the Stabila would pay for itself in quite a short space of time. I’ve seen many a scaffolder come to the conclusion that cheap works out more expensive over time due to lost or broken tools.