Cana­di­ans cre­ate home­owner scaf­fold­ing

The Sudbury Star - - ENTERTAINMENT - Over the years Steve Maxwell has learned to be very wary of grav­ity. Visit him on­line for ar­ti­cles, videos and his fa­mous Saturday morn­ing news­let­ter at Bai­ley­

A num­ber of years ago I was asked to tes­tify in a law­suit in­volv­ing a fa­ther who fell off a lad­der build­ing a shed for his adult son. This man was su­ing his son for not pro­vid­ing a safe work­ing sit­u­a­tion.

“What would have been safer than the step lad­der the fa­ther was pro­vided with?” I was asked as part of the court pro­ceed­ings.

De­spite the fact that this man will­ingly and know­ingly stepped onto the lad­der – and I per­son­ally fig­ure he shouldn’t ex­pect an in­sur­ance com­pany to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for his bro­ken bones – I had to ad­mit that some kind of scaf­fold­ing, how­ever small, is al­ways much safer to work from than a lad­der.

Scaf­fold­ing al­most cer­tainly would have pre­vented the fa­ther from fall­ing. The prob­lem with scaf­fold­ing is that it’s big to store and few home­own­ers would use if of­ten enough to jus­tify. Cre­at­ing a safer and more ver­sa­tile sys­tem than lad­ders is what a Cana­dian com­pany has set out to do.

Me­tal­tech makes in­dus­trial scaf­fold­ing in its Laval, Que., plant and I’ve bought lots of their prod­ucts over the years. This past fall it launched what its calls a Scaf­fold Bench (me­tal­­fold­bench). It caught my eye be­cause it makes a lot of sense for home­own­ers who don’t like fall­ing off lad­ders.

When the Scaf­fold Bench isn’t pro­vid­ing a safe plat­form for do­ing el­e­vated jobs around the house and yard, it func­tions as a rolling work­bench. Need stor­age in your garage? This unit also comes with wire shelves that eas­ily lift on and off the struc­ture. This is one rea­son it’s more ver­sa­tile than or­di­nary scaf­fold­ing.

Imag­ine a six-foot-long scaf­fold frame on wheels. A special plat­form pro­vides a work sur­face on one side, and a quick-re­lease sys­tem for hold­ing a chop­saw to the plat­form on the other. There are also ad­justable out­feed rollers that pro­vide sup­port for long items be­ing cut and the whole thing rolls on large, lock­able cast­ers that work bet­ter than I ex­pected over less than smooth out­door sur­faces.

As­sem­bling the Scaf­fold Bench took me an hour in my drive­way. The fit of all parts was good and the en­gi­neer­ing is strong. My only con­cern with the de­sign is the ply­wood used for the plat­form. It looks like indoor-grade ma­te­rial and the ve­neer was bub­bling a bit and com­ing loose as I took it out of the box. Not a big deal, but I did no­tice it.

The Scaf­fold Bench is light enough that two peo­ple can eas­ily lift it. Rolling is a one-per­son job. If you’ve never worked from scaf­fold­ing be­fore, you’re in for a treat, even on rel­a­tively low sit­u­a­tions. Be­sides be­ing safer, it’s easy to be more pro­duc­tive, too. There’s room for your tools and you don’t have to be climb­ing down and mov­ing your setup fre­quently, as you do with a lad­der. Safety and ef­fi­ciency are the rea­sons I rarely work from a lad­der if I can help it.

The ba­sic Me­tal­tech Scaf­fold Bench kit I’m us­ing costs $380 from Home De­pot, but I sus­pect most home­own­ers would want ad­di­tional ac­ces­sories. The most im­por­tant ones in my book are more wire shelves.

The real ge­nius of the prod­uct is the fact that it can be used as more than just a safe work plat­form. Most of the time, for most peo­ple, the unit will prob­a­bly sit in the garage act­ing as a shelving unit, hold­ing the kind of stuff that typ­i­cally clut­ters garage floors. The ba­sic kit comes with one shelf, but the frames can eas­ily ac­com­mo­date more. An­other ac­ces­sory that caught my eye is the tool shelf. It hangs off one of the frames and pro­vides a sur­face to hold tools and sup­plies. All in all, I think the unique Scaf­fold Bench makes good sense.


The Scaf­fold Bench in use.


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