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Construction in America

Chris Grundy Thinks Knowledge Is Power (Tools) in His Construction Experience

“I’ve definitely made a ton of mistakes,” said Chris Grundy, host of DIY Network’s “Cool Tools” and Travel Channel’s “50/50,” of his lengthy career in “do-it-yourself” handiwork and construction. “But even when I make mistakes, I’m learning something new.” Grundy’s experience with DIY, construction, and power tools has built a solid expertise in the construction world.

Though Grundy has made DIY and construction his career, it started out as a passion project. Before he became a face on television, Grundy worked at IBM, selling printer, software, and network systems. DIY was completely accidental.

Shaky beginnings

“I owned a house,” said Grundy, “and I didn’t know anything about construction or remodeling or fixing the little things.” Grundy called his father-in-law, a welder and owner of a fabrication shop, for advice. Eventually, Grundy began to take on his own solo projects — he built an outdoor kitchen and forgot to support the countertop tile with a cross-beam, a mistake he’s in the process of fixing currently.

Grundy’s foray into DIY television was largely accidental. Grundy performed improv comedy at Second City. A producer of a construction show called to get his answers dotted throughout an episode. Years later, the producer of “Cool Tools,” who had seen the episode, reached out to him through a friend. Grundy went on to host “Cool Tools” from 2009 to 2013, before hosting the Travel Channel’s show “50/50” with co-host Samantha Brown.

An evolving market

Grundy’s experience both on- and off-television is invaluable in DIY and tools, a rapidly changing market. According to Business Insider, the power tool industry will hit significant growth between 2017 and 2023 with a compound annual growth rate of 4.6 percent. That growth stems from the increased mobilization of power tools and an influx of new DIYers.

“Obviously cordless tools have been a real freedom for people, in terms of not being plugged in and not having to work at a place that has existing power,” said Grundy. “These days, the batteries are lasting much, much longer. People are getting smarter with their allocation of time.”

Though cordless technology has been available over the last decade, the longevity of the charge and the power of the tools has evolved to rival traditional corded tools. More efficient tools set users up for success. “You’re able to save money, because you’re not hiring people for jobs that you could do yourself, and you’re saving time,” Grundy added. “You have more confidence with what you’re doing, which shows up in your end product. You’re saving money on fuel, if you’re charging them before you leave the house. You might be able to work a whole half day with just those tools and not start up an engine.”

The right tools

Picking the right tools can seem like a daunting task, but Grundy recommends breaking a project down into manageable parts and going from there. “You ask, ‘How can I put all these things together?’” Grundy says. “[Planning gives] you an indication of if you’re capable of doing the job.”

Though there are some tools that may require a more advanced hand, there are several things that every American household should have, according to Grundy: a hammer, a cordless drill, and a tape measure. At higher levels, Grundy recommends a reciprocating saw. Traditionally used as a demolition tool, it can also provide some basic cutting that can be cleaned up later.

Grundy advises staying safe on the job site by understanding the “power” behind your power tools. “A table saw’s one of the most dangerous tools on a construction site; more injuries happen from that tool than from anything else,” says Grundy. “If you haven’t done your homework on table saws … it can be dangerous. As long as you’re safe, it’s okay to bite off more than you can chew.”

Safety first

New advances in technology have made the industry safer than ever, such as nail guns that do not work without engaged safety features, or table saws that shut down instantly when coming into contact with skin. “Bosch has a table saw called the Reaxx, and if it’s touching your skin, it doesn’t even touch you. It has the technology to drop that saw beneath the table so it doesn’t cut you, and it doesn’t ruin the saw.”

Grundy has some simple advice for new and old DIYers: leniency. “People set such high expectations of themselves that it can ruin the experience,” he says. “But if you’re prepared to spend a little more money, prepared to take extra trips to the store, prepared for it to take a little longer, then I think it’ll be a positive experience and you’ll do it again.”

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