By Reginald Tucker
David Low, a floor covering installer with 25 years under his belt, had grown tired of pulling muscles, busting his knuckles and otherwise breaking his back when laying down wall base—particularly on large jobs. But he wasn’t quite ready to hang up his tools and knee pads altogether, so he decided to do something about it.
Using a little ingenuity—and a lot of imagination—Low crafted a crude dolly device that would not only hold rolls of cove base in place, but also allow an installer to easily transport the heavy rolls (usually about 70 lbs.) and unfurl the material while gluing it in place to the bottom of the wall.
Low looks back on the day the idea for his invention came to be. “I was doing a job for a lawyer’s office that had all these little rooms as well as big open office spaces. I said, ‘Man, there has got to be a better way.’ So I went to Home Depot and bought a Lazy Susan and three caster wheels. I had an idea in my head in terms of what I wanted to do, so I just fabricated a round circle to put the wall base on.”
The Base Blazer Pro can accommodate cove base rolls spanning 2-, 4- or 6-inches wide.
After experimenting with some different materials used to form the foundation of the base of the dolly, Low switched to a more durable plastic that would withstand the rigors of years of use on job sites without breaking the bank. “With the materials I’m using to make this product, it’s probably bulletproof. Heck, it can probably catch bullets. You could probably even drive a car over it.”
At first Low began making the Base Blazer using a CNC lathe. Later on, production shifted to a full-service machine shop in Graham, Wash., where his uncle—who has 35 years building all sorts of contraptions—lent his expertise. “I showed him what I wanted, then we started drawing the design using CAD,” Low explained. “Then I got some help from family members who helped me apply for the patent.”
Back saver, money maker
Just as knee pads lessened the pain and wear and tear for carpet installers when they were invented decades ago, Low’s creation—dubbed the Base Blazer Pro—aims to preserve the joints and muscles of floor layers who oftentimes have to install cove base in awkward positions.
“When you’re on your knees you have to throw the cove base, it can create what’s called ‘tennis elbow’ from the impact each time you toss your arm out,” Low explained. “Base Blazer Pro gives installers a tool they can push or pull around the room and still and work from at the same time. Using this product, installers can glue right up to an edge, pull it out a little bit and make their corners while it’s still on the dolly and just keep going.”
Aside easing the task at hand from a purely labor perspective, the Base Blazer Pro also allows installers to shave time off each installation—which, in turn, frees them up to take on more jobs and earn more money. “Installers see the possibilities with this tool,” Low said. “It basically transforms cove base as an accessory product into a profit center. And it’s going to help installers get home faster.”
Those who have utilized the product on the job site see the benefits. Low shared a story about how he loaned the Base Blazer Pro to one of his friends—another flooring installer—to see how he liked it. That friend, unfortunately, allowed another installer to borrow it. Problem is, he never gave it back. “That tells you a lot right there,” Low said. (Good news: Low ultimately gave his friend another one to use.)
Then there’s the case of Sam Penlesky, a professional flooring contractor and the owner of SJP Flooring, LLC, Tacoma, Wash. He said the Base Blazer Pro typically shaves off one-third the time it takes for him to lay the cove base. “Usually with roll base you have to use your hand to spin the coil, and over time your hands hurt. But with this tool you just put in on the base blazer and it does the work for you. I’ve had the Base Blazer Pro for a few years now, and I use it all the time.”
According to Low, this is the typical response of those who have used the product. “It’s like the first time you put on a pair of Pro Knees; you ask yourself, ‘Why didn’t I get one of these before?’ Once you have installed multiple rows of cove base with this tool, you’re not going to go back to the old-fashioned way of doing it. For the professional installer, it’s just another tool in their arsenal.”
The Base Blazer Pro retails for $179, not including shipping and handling.
For more information, visit BaseBlazer.com.