cartridge fixing tool

Cartridge fixing tool

A brilliant piece of equipment developed for fixing timber to concrete, steel and other hard building materials.

Essentially, it is a firearm that shoots nails instead of bullets,with the nail being propelled by specially developed  .22 rim fire cartridges that come with three different power settings. 

old style cartridge fixing tool - pre safety devices

old style cartridge fixing tool – pre safety devices

Withsafety a key priority, the cartridge fixing tool has been developed over the years so that they will only continue to penetrate if they feel resistance; the barrel has to be pressed against something in order to activate the firing system. For instance, if you try try to shoot a nail through something very thin, such as hardboard ,once the nail has penetrated the material, it will sense no further resistance and fail to activate.

Back in the day, this was not the case- 30 odd years ago I was working on a site with my old pal Mick. We were stripping some vertical tiling from a wall that had started to come loose because the timber battens holding them had come adrift from the wall. It soon became clear that  the battens were loose because the fixings holding them were inadequate.

The walls of this property were built using class B semi engineering bricks ( very hard)  This was a job for a local authority and, working on a tight budget, we had the option of drilling, plugging and screwing the huge quantity of timber or finding a quicker solution. We departed for the local hire shop to look at the cartridge fixing tools  1 hour later, returned to site with what was basically then a deadly weapon.  This was an era pre health and safety (that came in after Piper Alpha  in 1974.) and risk assessments had not been heard of.

The main issue facing us was the requirement to work ‘blind’, since  the wall was covered with a felt vapour barrier which meant we could not be entirely sure where each nail was going.

Then – along came Iska ( strange I still remember her name to this day) . Iska was a lovely, old lady who made us tea every day  and we would often go and chat with her because   she was a bit lonely and enjoyed the company. We were very fond of Iska.

The area we were working in included 3 or 4 flats one which was Iska’ s.

The cartridge fixing tool was fantastic, with its only drawback being the need to  re-load after every nail was fired into place.  As a result, it took a long time but was still preferable to fixing using screws.

So there we were – two young guys with no ear defenders ,no goggles ,no specific training-just getting on with it- (Today you would need a filing cabinet full of paperwork before you even got out of the van)!!

Having fired this tool hundreds of times, we both knew at an instant on this one occasion that something had gone wrong- the nail just disappeared, leaving a clean hole through the wood. OMG we looked at each other with , “ that’s not good”  expression on our faces.

We ripped back the felt to see what had happened, only to discover an air brick. For those who don’t know  – An air brick is a brick that’s full of holes to allow the free passage of air into a building. This air brick was about knee height and went right into Iska’s sitting room. I felt instantly that  this may end up being more serious than just not getting any more tea and biscuits.

Potentially lethal equipment handle with care

Potentially lethal equipment handle with care

We both rushed down the ladder and made our way up to Iska’s front door.  I can remember  praying that she would answer the knock. Iska came to the door without a care in the world just thinking we had come for tea.  We were two very relieved lads ! We made an excuse to take a look round to see if we could find any evidence. After a few minutes we discovered  a perfect hole in the shape of a nail sideways on. It had gone right through a solid wood door out the other side and knocked a chunk out of the wall behind. On a serious note this was one of our more scary moments and we had many. Actually, when I think back,it was a miracle we both survived we sure had some close shaves.!!!!!!!

Dear old Iska ,a bit deaf and totally unaware, continued to make us tea until we finally finished the work. However, from that day on we made sure we knew where all the air bricks were.

We have Continued to this day using cartridge fixing tools on many occasions as for specific tasks there is no better piece of equipment.