My crew recently formed and poured the foundation for a 4,200 square foot custom home we would later be framing. It was larger than the homes we normally build — the perfect opportunity to try out a tool I had seen at the JLC LIVE tradeshow,...

the Max RB397 rebar tier. The RB397 is a battery powered tool that handles like a large cordless drill. But instead of drilling holes, it quickly ties the intersections of rebar. Tools of the Trade contacted the manufacturer and got them to send us a loaner. We used it to tie the rebar in the footings and stem walls of the 4,200 square foot house.

The rebar tier is fast — it takes about a second to wrap the bar three times with the wire and twist it off. There's no way we can match that speed tying by hand. And the ties are amazingly neat; each one is exactly the same.

The tool takes rolls of proprietary 21-gauge wire that comes in regular steel, electric galvanized steel, and polyester coated steel (for epoxy coated rebar). According to the manufacturer you get about 120 ties per roll. We paid less than $5 per roll of regular wire at our local supply house. It took about 10 rolls to tie the entire foundation.

I can't overstate how much we prefer using this tool to tying rebar by hand. It took about an hour to scatter and tie all the rebar in the foundation. It would have taken three hours to tie the same foundation by hand. It's not just the time saved — it's easier on the back because we spend less time bent over and easier on the wrist than twisting wire with lineman's pliers or one of those wooden-handled rebar tying tools.

The RB397 makes it easier to tie bar in walls because it can be operated one handed. You can hold the bar in position with one hand and tie it with the other — there's no need for a helper.

Max's rebar tier is a pricey tool and we do not do enough concrete work to justify the expense. But if we specialized in foundations I'd find a way to buy one because it saves labor and does very neat work.

Max RB397 Specs:
Weight: 5.2 pounds
Motor: Brushless
Battery: Lithium—Ion; 14.4 volts; 3.0 Ah
Ties per charge: 2,000
Includes: battery, charger, plastic case
Web price: $2,500