Robert Cumings is clearly the sort of man who, when stuck with a lemon, makes lemonade. After college, he went to work as a salesman for a measuring tool company and came across a rather unusual product. It was an attachment that hooked onto a particular model of Skil saw and converted it into a beam cutter. He, too, was converted and invested some money into the venture, but it soon went sour.
“It was poorly made and rather unsafe,” Robert recalls, “and required that you virtually dismantle the saw to attach the thing. I invested some money into it before I discovered that it was a big scam. However, that made me realize that if someone could come up with a workable version, it would be worthwhile. I hired a design engineer to develop an attachment that would fit all saws, did not require you to take the saw apart, would cut well and accurately, and would be safe.”
With that, the Beam Cutter was born and, with it, a new company, Prazi USA. “I started calling on lumberyards and doing demonstrations, and the Beam Cutter started selling.” Soon, though, other innovative items were added to the eclectic mix you’ll find on their web site, thanks to Robert’s open mind and open door policy. “After about a year,” he recounts, “inventors started coming to me with their inventions. The first product I accepted was the Putty Chaser and that, too, did well.”
Today, Prazi carries seven products, all invented by people outside the company. Situated in Plymouth, Massachusetts, the company employs five people, including Robert’s wife, who run the company and do the shipping and assembly work from parts manufactured elsewhere. They sell everything direct from their web site, but also sell through over 5,000 retail dealers throughout the country, though not all dealers carry all products. Robert pointed out that they proudly offer a 100 percent guarantee on everything. “We’ll take back any product you are not happy with.”
Their first product, the Beam Cutter, is still their best-selling item. Once attached, it looks rather like a chainsaw cleaved onto a circular saw, but has advantages over both. “The Beam Cutter is more accurate than a chainsaw, which is completely controlled by your hand. With the Beam Cutter, a plate sits atop the wood, enabling you to not only get accurate cuts, but also to cut up to a 45° angle. The solid bar behind the blade both makes it safer and helps guide straight cuts. Basically, the Beam Cutter gives you the accuracy and versatility of a circular saw, but with a 12″ depth of cut instead of the 3″ – 4″ cut you get from a circular saw.”
Another popular item, The Grabit screw extractor, solves a common problem a bit differently than its competitors. “Each of the three bits in the set has two ends,” Robert explained. “One end prepares the screw by creating a new hole into the damaged screw or bolt, and the other extracts it with an ingenious cutter that grabs into the newly created hole. The upshot is that you can extract bolts or screws from either wood or metal without damaging the surrounding area, and The Grabit will work with anything from a tiny, number five screw up to a 3/4″ bolt.”
Perhaps their most unusual tool is a small gizmo called the Putty Chaser. It’s designed to remove old glazing putty from a window without damaging either the glass or the sash. This one, though, has to be used properly; specifically, it must be used with a drill that runs at least 2,000 RPM. Cordless drills typically do not run that fast and, in fact, not all electric drills do, either. “When it is used correctly,” Robert maintained, “it works great.” Unfortunately, it has gotten some bad press in the past from folks who tried to run it outside the speed parameters.
The newest offering is an intriguing item called the Quick Draw hammer holster, which quite literally turns the traditional hammer holster on its head. “With a regular hammer holder,” Robert explained, “you drop the handle down through a loop. The hammer is head up, and the handle tends to bang against your leg as you work. With the Quick Draw, which is adjustable for any size hammer, the hammer sits handle up so that you grab the handle instead of the head. Grabbing it is quick and easy, and nothing bangs against your leg when the hammer is in the holster. You can set it for either right- or left-hand use, and can even adjust the angle at which the handle protrudes to make it more comfortable for you.”
Selling a spate of unusual specialty tools has its advantages. “We really don’t have much in the way of competition,” Robert admitted, “because our tools are uniquely designed to fill niches that are void. We see problems, and come up with solutions to solve them.”
Best of all, “we” can include you, or anyone, since Robert still welcomes new ideas from budding inventors. “We’ll talk to anyone, and look at any invention, and if it’s good, we’ll run with it. In short, we welcome innovative new ideas.”