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Wera KK SH 2 Plumbkit: all you need for sanitary/plumbing?

I AM usually very suspicious of kits of tools made up by people other than me because there always seem to be some tools that are there to make up numbers or others that are glaring omissions, writes PETER BRETT.

However, having reviewed the Wera electricians’ kit a while back, I have to be more circumspect. Several sparks that I know wouldn’t be without theirs and, combined with the 2Go cases, reach for theirs before any other tool.

So, with the KK SH 2 Plumbkit I asked the plumbers first and then used it myself for a while before I rushed to judgement.

 

Presentation

Wera packaging is so much more than merely stimulating point of sale interest. The design of all of Wera’s products is consistently excellent to reinforce the Wera message of challenging existing standards. This set is no different; a high-quality cardboard box contains the rigid textile box in which the 15 tools are contained. For extra security, a tightfitting clear plastic slip cover helps prevent opportunistic unpacking and thieving.

And of course, retailers like all of this too – both for the security and the clear desirability of the products.

 

The tools

Because sanitary and plumbing work sometimes needs a bit of electrical input, the inclusion of a small range of screwdrivers is an absolute must. The Wera Kraftform blade-holding VDE handle is accompanied by a PH1 and PH2 VDE driver blades. Phillips screws are more commonly used on electrical fittings because they are supposed to prevent overtightening. But they are also used on grub screws on taps too, so you get two functions for one.

The other two blades are a small (3.5mm) and a larger (5.5mm) slotted screwdriver used on many electrical fittings. Each of the included VDE blades features a reduced blade diameter; this allows access to sunken screws and spring elements that normally will not be accessible without stripping back the insulation.

As with all Wera’s VDE products, the user is safe from shocks up to 1000v when using these screwdrivers correctly.

A small voltage tester with easy clip on the handle is also included for the admirable ‘better safe than sorry’ safety reason that sometimes live current needs to be tested for its presence.

 

Hex L- keys

Housed next to the screwdriver blades are the four hex L-keys in 3mm, 4mm, 5mm and 6mm sizes. They are all ball-ended which means that they can still be used at an angle to the screwhead – sometimes very important in a fitting where space is limited. The ‘L’ ends have Wera’s Hex-Plus Profile which prevents rounding the corners of hex screw heads. These L-keys come with a ball-bearing on the long arm, which securely holds the screw onto the tool. This is especially helpful in confined, hard-to-reach spaces, where there is no room for a second hand to hold the fastener.

Colour coded identification of the L-keys makes finding and identifying them simple and even I can read the clear black writing and symbols etched onto the thermoplastic sleeves without my glasses.

 

One of my favourites

I have a large Wera Chiseldriver that goes to every job with me and it is invaluable, so I have no qualms in accepting the smaller 932A slotted chisel driver being included in this set. On the basis that you ‘never know when you might need one,’ it is a must. It still makes for a tough slotted screwdriver, even when it has been used to chisel up a bit of brick or mortar. It can be safely hit with a hammer because of the solid Pound Thru blade and integrated impact cap, so it is definitely up to the job – and probably more than should be demanded of it.

 

Interesting… and different

In the course of doing this review, I showed the kit to a few plumbers and general handymen. Without exception, they commented on the Wera Kraftform nutspinners. There are two in the set – to fit 10mm and 13mm nuts. But the big difference is that the shafts of these are hollow, allowing the extra-long bolts used on modern mixer taps to slip into the shaft so that the nuts can be tightened right up to the bottom of the worktop. A lot easier than using a ‘standard’ pipe spanner. Because there are only two, they are easily identifiable by size, but the white etched print on the base of the handle still provides extra identification if needed.

Not jok(er)ing… not an option

Wera’s Joker range of wrenches is famous for being innovative, time-saving and premium in quality. The two included in this kit (again 10mm and 13mm in size) have been carefully chosen to help out in a number of plumbing scenarios. Each has two different ends – an open end and a closed end with a 15 degree offset and a finely-toothed ratchet.

The open end has the very useful metal plate in the jaw, that securely holds nuts and bolts in place, eliminating the risk of dropping them. This allows the user to position the nut or bolt where needed, without the necessity of holding it in place with the other hand.

The closed end has a finely-toothed ratchet mechanism, so that even in small confined space (like underneath a kitchen sink) the nut or bolt can be tightened. The ratchet setting handle is so neat and unobtrusive that it won’t get in the way but is easily reachable with thumb or forefinger when needed. I just love these Joker wrenches – and the chrome-molybdenum construction is extremely resilient so don't worry about applying a lot of torque to them.

 

Why I like this kit

It is clear after a short examination of it that this kit has been put together with care. As part of the Wera system, it benefits from high quality and thoughtful design and manufacture, as well as superb functionality; it does what is asked of it and will often deliver more in skilful hands. The ‘Take it Easy’ tool finder system and clear size markings make the tools easy to identify, and it is easy to add the kit to the Wera 2go transportation system. By using the piece of adhesive backed hook and loop strip provided in the box, you can mount the kit on the van, workshop or toolbox for easy access.


www-de.wera.de/en/

Accurate insulation needed? Try the Festool

I HAVE seen lots of different styles of insulation – from the ‘stuff-it-in-andhope-for-the-best' method, through to the obsessively neat ‘no gaps at any cost’.

Obviously the nearer you get to the ‘no-gaps’ style, the better the insulation factor. The Festool ISC 240 is the tool to help you do it.

Two Blades for Different Insulation Types

If you think of a cordless jigsaw with much longer and specialised blades, then you have a basic grasp of the way in which the saw works – but this being a Festool, the simplicity is only skin deep.

For the most rigid types of insulation material like PU foams, the jigsaw type of toothed blade is required.

This blade is supported by a wide blade backing, which keeps the long blade straight for accurate cutting into insulation, that could be up to 25cm thick.

Longer blades are available - I am told.

For less rigid insulation materials like rockwool or woollen batts, a different blade formation is required.

This consists of two extremely sharp ‘wavey’ blades, one of which reciprocates up and down the other - creating a kind of scissor action cut, that shears through material which tends to give a bit.

And the extras…

To ensure users get a straight and accurate cut, Festool engineers have designed a couple of bases to go with each blade type. The first of these clicks on near the top of the blade.

The base has two channels on it, that can be fitted into the channel along the back of a standard Festool guiderail. These enable users to cut millimetre perfect straight lines in harder types of insulation.

Again, for softer insulation where accuracy may not be as critical, but is certainly desirable Festool engineers have designed a small-wheeled sled that runs in the grooves of a Festool guide rail.

This sled is attached to the bottom end of the sharp ‘wavey’ blades.

When cutting, the guide rail is slid underneath the insulation so the insulation rests on it, and then the saw is slid down the guide rail - where the small weight of the insulation helps to keep it down for easier cutting.

A word of warning though – the ‘wavey’ blades are so sharp - it is best to keep them covered with the supplied bladeguard when they are not in use.

Cordless convenience

While it looks a bit like and cuts like a cordless jigsaw, the insulation saw has several features that sets it apart. For example, most users would notice the fine mesh covering the motor ventilation holes – these replaceable filters are designed to keep out fine insulation particles that could spell an early death to an electric motor.

The on/off switch cannot be accidentally switched – a definite safety factor with extremely sharp blades in action. It needs two quick pushes to start.

Dust extraction is extremely good, via the port on top of the saw head – it needs to be slid back to allow blade changes.

And finally, Festool has included two of its latest Bluetooth batteries that allow remote switching of a compatible vacuum extractor. A truly good thing, as the last thing any user wants to do is inhale ne insulation particles.

There is much more to say about this insulation saw. Having used it, I am impressed with both the ease of use and the accuracy.

Add to that cordless convenience and Bluetooth switching, and you have a very user friendly tool.

Here’s to warmer houses, courtesy of the Festool Insulation saw.

www.festool.co.uk

National Abrasives - Mini Fill - Review

I do enough decorating jobs to know that filling and making good is the most important part of getting a good final result. Clients will often be surprised at how long careful preparation can take, especially if they think that it is simply a case of rolling on some emulsion once the wallpaper has been stripped….. 

Good preparation usually involves a lot of filling and sanding which is tedious and dusty work. Any way of making these jobs easier warrants a closer look in my view.

I also know that there is a huge range of plaster-based fillers out there, and I have used many of them. Choosing the right one for the job can be important for speed, efficiency, and getting the right sanded finish. So, when I saw the Mini Fill I was keen to find out if this all-in-one hole and crack filler would be effective and, more to the point, save me time and hassle.

Think of Sausages

The Mini Fill looks like a small wrapped salami sausage. Roughly 23cm long and 3cm in diameter, it has a sealing cap on one end with a built-in stopper and filler/spreader tool.  For the necessary long shelf-life the Mini Fill has a seal on the business end of the sausage that needs to be broken before use. This is done by simply pulling off the plastic strip and screwing in the cap to pierce the ‘sausage’.  Then just pull off the sealing cap and a gentle squeeze on the tube will get the filler flowing.

Texture and Look

Because it is gypsum based, the filler inside the Mini Fill is a greyish white when it is unset, drying to a plaster white when set. The texture is pretty well spot-on for most filling jobs – wet enough to spread easily, but with enough body not to slump when it is used to fill slightly bigger holes – say those about 15 to 20 mm wide.

It also feels as though it has had a plasticiser added because it feels a bit sticky and is easy to finish smoothly. It certainly feels a bit more like applying a well-mixed skim plaster rather than a hand mixed proprietary filler. The standard gypsum based fillers for the usual DIY or professional use can feel a bit lumpy and dry in comparison, depending on the expertise of the mixer. Either way, I found that the texture of the Mini Fill was a definite plus point and added to its ability to get a smooth finish with minimal sanding. 

The end of the sausage includes a white plastic spreader onto which the filler is ejected when the tube is squeezed. When filling small cracks and holes left by plastic plugs this spreader is perfectly adequate and indeed leaves a smooth surface that is easy to sand flush when the filler has set. I tried to stretch the parameters a bit by using the Mini Fill to fill in 6 to 10mm wide cracks left when replacing a window frame. Although application straight from the tube using the spreader was easy enough, I think the idea of a corner applicator that National are introducing in the coming months will make this job a breeze.

Usable working time was very respectable too, because it is often easier to fill bigger holes and cracks by applying the filler, and then waiting ten minutes for the filler to set a little before spreading it further and then applying the final filler coat.

Setting time can vary according to warmth and humidity, but I found that by the time I got around the room I was preparing, and back to the start point (a couple of hours) the filler was ready to sand. Sanding is easy enough, and you shouldn’t have to use anything rougher than 120 grit abrasive paper to get a smooth finish.

Cleaning up the Mini Fill is simply a matter of re-inserting the stopper to seal the tube and washing the spreader under the cold tap. I kept a half-used tube for a week to test the seal before I finished it off and the contents were still usable, so the seal is good.

Looking at the Economics

With 80ml of filler per tube, the Mini Fill, as the name indicates, is best used where the filling needs are not too drastic. The cost of the Mini Fill retailing at up to £2.98 inc Vat would be easily balanced by the ease of use, and hassle free application and preparation of the finished surface. It would also solve the problem of half a box of filler powder, slowly getting hard in the cupboard under the stairs waiting for the next decorating job to come up. The same can be said of ready mixed fillers in tubes and tubs, which generally go hard. The Mini Fill has a 5-year plus shelf life.

Like other fillers, Mini Fill can be painted, sealed, sanded, drilled and plugged, so it is a genuine replacement for the usual market offers – but I still point out that its biggest selling points are its ease of use and the good clean finish with minimal effort, the brilliant built in scraper and long shelf life.

For Retailers

The Mini Fill comes in a handy counter display box for easy display and explanation. I think customers will like that fact that they only need to buy the Mini Fill to do the job – no need for unexpected extra bits and pieces like scrapers - and then the tubes are easy to dispose of too when they are used up. It all translates into time and convenience that are on the side of Mini Fill. 

 

 

Head Torches from Ledlenser Review– Which is the One for You?

Peak buying season for torches is not-so-slowly creeping up on us, so while the rest of us enjoy our summer breaks, the torch suppliers are beavering away ensuring that dealers have enough stock to meet demand when the clocks go back in October.

I have become a fan of head torches after initially being quite sceptical. What converted me was having to work under a car bonnet one wet, dark and wintry evening, trying the find the catch to release the headlight housing so I could replace the bulb. I needed a beam adjustable from spot to flood, and a beam housing that could be moved downwards, so that I could hold my head at the correct angle to see what I needed to see. But end users have a variety of other needs too, so LEDCO UK sent me a couple from their new i-Series range to try out.

Top of the Range - Ledlenser iXEO 19R

Packed into its own padded black nylon case surrounded by an informative sleeve, it is clear that this 5-in-1 2000 lumen max super light (handheld torch, headlamp, helmet light, area light, emergency light) is aimed at demanding users, such as professionals in heavy industries such as tunnelling, construction and utilities as well as mountain rescue and the emergency services. Accordingly, it is IPX6 rated in terms of water protection – i.e. protected against strong water jets.

The kit itself is comprehensive, as it comes as standard with a self-adhesive helmet connecting kit, belt clip and extension cord, to give the option to hang the Li-ion rechargeable PowerBox on a belt or bag. A neoprene battery bag has a belt loop, and can be used instead of the belt clip if the battery pack needs more water protection. There is also a mains charger, and a USB lead so that the battery pack can be used to charge a mobile if needed. A nice touch is the soft cloth and brush to clean up the lenses occasionally.

It is worth a look at the battery pack to explore some of the ways it can be used. The plastic casing has a slightly matte black rubberised feel to it and has various catches and sockets. On one end, there is the inlet socket for the charger/connection lead and the USB socket. This has a rubbery cover that no doubt helps to achieve the IPX6 rating. A small lever is used to lock the battery connection lead into place so it is secure and waterproof. There is also a blue light battery charge indicator on this end.

On the opposite end is a plastic catch onto which the head of the torch can be attached making the whole thing into a handheld device. If this seems like a bit of a fiddly arrangement – it is, but after you have done it a few times it works better – it’s just a matter of getting used to the way in which the clips work. To make it easier, a short connection cable is also included so there is no need to remove the coiled cable from the elasticated headband. All the cables, apart from the short one, have lockable connections so that they are secure against movement and water ingress.

The iXEO 19R Torch Head

This torch head in sharp black, with bright yellow lens mounts and adjusting levers, looks a bit like a two-eyed monster when viewed full frontal, and the arrangement promises complexity. However, it really is quite simple to use. There is a single rubberised switch on top of the head. Press once on the top for dual half beam, press twice for dual full beam, and a third time for selecting the Optisense option that automatically controls the amount of light for the user. So on Optisense, a night worker would have near full beam when looking far ahead, but when looking at a map close up, the light would automatically dim so as not to dazzle.  A fourth press activates the dual strobe lights. However, press on the right side of the switch and the right-side light will come on in the same sequence as above. The same is true if you push the left-hand side of the switch except that the left-hand light will illuminate. An addition press in any mode of the front switch activates the maximum 2000 lumens, which literally turns night into day. More than enough light for even the darkest of environments.

The two yellow levers on each side of the switch work independently and move the focus of each light from spot to flood – thus making it possible to have full flood or spot in either lights, or a mixture of one flood and one spot in whichever side you need. The levers work smoothly, as does the switch – you won’t find the torch moving on your head if the headband is adjusted properly and the helmet mount is very secure. It is possible to click stop the head of the torch from horizontal to nearly 45 degrees for close up viewing, and behind the lights themselves is a ventilation system that cools the LEDs, apparently making them brighter. A new bit of information to me.

Finally, by pressing the switch and holding for 5 seconds, the battery is locked so that it cannot be accidentally activated when it is packed in a rucksack, for instance - a useful feature.

This is obviously a choice bit of kit that is designed and made to the high standards of Ledlenser, and has the price tag to match. I don’t think it will disappoint the target users because it is genuinely powerful and capable – but take a good look at the instructions to get the best out of it, because it is sophisticated.

iSEO 5R

In the mid-range of i-Series head torches, the iSEO 5R is a lot more compact and cheaper than the above. Nevertheless, it is still part of the industrial series of head torches because of its IPX6 weatherproofiing and glare free red LED light option. It sports a180 lumen light output with a range of 120m at full spot. At full beam a completely recharged battery will last 10 hours, but with low power beam selected, this goes up potentially to a very useful 50 hours. Or, if you want, you can use three AAA batteries instead.

Charging is done via a short USB lead that can be plugged into a computer/laptop, or one of those new USB enabled mains sockets.

The switch is a simple button switch on top of the battery housing. One press selects full beam, another press selects low power, a third starts the strobe light, and a fourth switches the beam off. To select the red light just hold down the main switch for a few seconds longer, and another press will engage the red strobe light.

There is also the battery lock option to prevent accidentally switching the torch on – simply hold the switch down for 5 seconds.

Beam focusing is simply done by a twist of the outer lens bezel, and the light can be angled by a full 60 degrees by a stopped ratchet.

Although this torch is very light, weighing just 105g, it is supplied with the option of a self-adhesive hardhat mount with extra helmet clips for industrial users.

Ledlenser is proud of its quality control and manufacturing and this small torch does not escape the process. Such a light, compact and effective torch will surely gain fans. 

Stahlwille Quality Torque Wrenches Review - Torqueing it Easy!

The Background Bit…

I confess that I only knew of Stahlwille products peripherally because I rarely go into the world of spanners. More recently however, spanners and socketry have become more prominent in my work – it all depends on what jobs come your way I guess.

I had admired the huge Stahlwille presence at the Cologne Hardware Show last year, and was interested to hear about the products they were developing, but I don’t think I was fully aware of just what the company’s values and traditions are. But a chance to test one of its torque wrenches gave me the opportunity to look a bit more closely.

The company was founded in1862 by Eduard Wille and remains a family based concern. At the outset, the company focused on quality, but was also forward thinking enough to realise that quality has several components, including innovative ideas, a team of good workers and investment. It has tried to maintain this outlook and has survived and prospered for over 150 years, so it must have done something right.

The company has also insisted on maintaining production in Germany and has three production plants there. It was one of the first manufacturers to be certified with DIN EN ISO 9002 and later DIN EN ISO 9001 – fine indicators of quality.

But one final statistic might set you thinking – of all the 3.5 billion airline passengers who flew on aeroplanes worldwide in 2015, the airlines that carried them all relied on Stahlwille tools for daily and other maintenance.

Torqueing the Talk

The first torque wrench I ever used belonged to my uncle and it was a complicated beast whose setting alone was a trial. It needed to be checked and recalibrated quite quickly, and required quite a knack to get accurate results.

Roll on a few years, and the problem is that many applications now are torque sensitive – from electrical installations to automotive and onwards. So, what is needed are reliable torque instruments that are easy to use, recalibrate and are reliable – and in some cases even recordable so they can be checked on for warranty purposes. The Stahlwille Manoskop 730 Quick range consists of ten torque tools that vary in size and capacity. For example, the smallest in the range will deliver on ranges between 6 to 50 Nm while the largest and longest can deliver a range of 130 to 650 Nm. What they all have in common is that they are easy to use, easy to set and reset, and do not require a manual reset to zero.

Start with the Setting…

Perhaps the most crucial part of this tool, the setting, is indeed easy. It took me all of a few seconds to grasp, and therefore a trained mechanic could very easily use several settings on a single job without taking very much time. It certainly saves on the scenarios I have seen, where several torque wrenches have been used to apply different torque settings to a variety of bolts on the same job.

On the long length of the side of the wrench is a plastic-outlined window with a green sliding button and a plastic magnifying lens. Clearly marked are two scales in Nm and lb./ft. The torque indicator mark has a definite V-shaped mark in it that will line up with one of the clear vertical lines indicating the torque settings. I managed to read the scales very well with my glasses on – and the silver background and black scale marks are very visible.

To set the torque simply put your thumb into the handle end of the wrench shaft and you will find a small flat lever. Push this all the way down (if you don’t push it far enough the scale will not move freely) and use the green milled adjuster button to the setting you want. Release the thumb lever and the setting is set – it won’t move. 

Although the lever is on the open end of the wrench shaft, it is recessed enough so that it can’t be accidentally pressed or too easily become a victim of the ever-present greasy muck associated with workshops.

There is a rubbery plastic handle sited right on the end of the shaft for easy grip and maximum leverage. I wondered if some users might find it a bit small since my small hands had no trouble covering it.

The Working End

It would be pointless to have a quick setting torque wrench and not have a similar level of convenience when it comes to changing sockets etc. The Manoskop 730 Quick has a simple oblong socket into which spanner heads and square drives can be slotted. They are easy to release by simply pushing the green plastic button on the end of the shaft. I did have a small query about this arrangement because if the square drive is inserted ‘upside down’ the button release doesn’t work. Fortunately Stahlwille has provided a little hole where you can insert a pen/file/whatever to push down the release button.  I admit that this might not happen often because the orientation of the wrench is almost always the ‘correct’ way, but mistakes happen. 

What you can be sure of though, is that the QuickRelease Safety lock, while it is quick, will not release until you do it – it is safely held while working.

Accessories

There are several accessories that will fit either to the square drives, or straight into the end of the wrench. I tried the wheelnut socket and the spark plug socket on my car. A mechanic friend who gave the wrench a once over could really see the benefits of the ‘Quick’ aspects of the system, in terms of saving time and hassle for a busy mechanic working to deadlines.

He also liked the fact that there was no need for a manual reset to zero on this wrench made possible by STAHLWILLE’s unique triggering cam mechanism. This means the mechanism is not under any load unless a force is applied, even when it is left set, therefore you do not need to release the tension from the spring, as with conventional torque wrenches.

Once it has clicked as the torque is reached, the job is done and the wrench can be moved straight on to the next bolt.

Compared to the other old style torque wrenches I have used, the Stahlwille Manoskop 730 Quick is a more sophisticated wrench, that did the torque to the required spec with no hassle at all. 

New Range of Socketry from Draper

Socketry? Me?

If anyone asked me a few weeks ago whether I regularly used socketry I would have probably replied with a resounding ‘No’. But just to prove me wrong I have used socketry of various kinds on the last three jobs I have done – so it was really quite handy to have several samples of the latest Draper Socketry range to try out.

But a bit of background first.

Draper has been a supplier of good quality socketry for as long as I can remember – in fact I have an old imperial set in a metal case tucked away in the loft ‘just in case’ I ever have the urge to get myself a vintage car to restore. But things move on, and as Draper has become more involved with supplying larger items like workshop lifts and tyre changing kit for the automotive trades, it seems appropriate that a new range of socketry would fit nicely into the range and continue to be one of the cornerstones of Draper’s business.

Time to Try

Draper generously allowed me to choose a few sets to use at my leisure for a couple of weeks. I was more interested in smaller sets that would be used as part of my larger toolkit, and needed for maintenance and disassembly.

The first set I used on site was a Draper Expert 75-piece socket set that I chose because of its versatility – you can always guarantee that the worksite will throw up some little problem that is easy to deal with if you have the right tools, but is a right pain if you haven’t.

I was drawn to this set because of the choice of sockets – it has sixteen long ‘Go Through’ sockets in metric and Imperial and a further twenty-one shorter sockets – also in metric and Imperial

The sockets are all of the 6 point HI-TORQ type.

Alongside the sockets there is a collection of twenty-seven screwdriving bits in various formats like Hex, Torx, Phillips and Pozi. Using the adaptor, these bits can be driven using the screwdriver handle, the quick release ratchet, the flexible handle or the sliding T-bar. Sometimes, there is more chance of solving problems if you have a greater choice of weapons at your disposal.

Also included are three socket extensions with built-in ‘wobble’ for extra flexibility, a universal joint and a flexible extension bar.

The plastic case opens out flat revealing all of the tools at once. Only the long sockets in the lid are held so that they don’t fall out. Mercifully, all the other sockets fit loosely into place and don’t require a case-upsetting pull to get them out. Metal latches are indeed robust and the carry handle is comfortable with a rubberised overmould.

This set managed to solve me a problem the first time I used it – when I had to remove, recondition and replace the cables on an ‘up and over’ garage door. Specifically the long, slim Go Through sockets enabled the easy removal and replacement of the rails and the ‘wobbly’ extension bar provided enough offset that was needed in a tight corner.

What was also noticeable was that the quality of the kit was excellent. All the components felt well-made and professional with a modern design that felt good in the hand.

Kit No 2

This kit was chosen as a small ‘emergency kit’ – easy to carry, but with enough capability to be able to diagnose the problem – and possibly even fix it. It consists of 47 pieces of which 21 are metric sockets covering a range of 4mm to 14mm. There are 8 long slim Go Through sockets that are sometimes a problem solver.

There is also the range of 19 driver bits and an adaptor to fit the screwdriver handle and the quick release ratchet. Packed into a compact case that is just 25 cm long,18cm wide and 5cm deep, it can be tucked into a carry case or under an arm. For a few weeks I carried it around packed into a tool case where it was consulted a few times on various small jobs. A very useful addition to a general toolkit, and one that is small and lightweight, but very versatile.

And the VDE…

I work with an electrician sometimes so I chose this 18 Piece Draper Expert VDE kit for him to use and evaluate. His initial comments were that that, “quality looked great” and I think that even though I rarely use VDE stuff, just playing with the set and trying out the fit between the various components, I could appreciate that it is well made.

The kit comes in a bright VDE Red plastic case with plastic latches, and consists of 13 sockets ranging from 4mm to 14mm. Each socket is completely encased in insulating plastic, with the only metal bit to see being the socket end. A long sleeve that fits right into the ratchet handle means that there is no gap between socket and ratchet, and it safely covers the ¼ inch square drive on the ratchet.  On the end of the150mm long ratchet handle is a corrugated black button, used to lock and release the sockets by simply pressing down on it. Turning it left or right will change the direction of drive, and there is clearly no way that a user’s hand might touch an exposed bit of metal on the tool itself.

Also included are 4 extension bars – a 6 inch, a 4 inch, a 3 inch and a 2 inch.

All components are safely held in the case by a custom fitted layer of closed cell foam that protects them in transit, as well as helping ensure that the user will quickly see if any part of the kit is missing. My electrician friend endorsed his first impression of the quality of the kit after using it for a few days, and he also liked the compact case a lot because it kept all the kit together and well organised, as well as being light and easy to carry.

And So…

It is clear that Draper has put together a range of socketry that will fit the need of any number of end users. Not only is the quality excellent, but the choice of kits and the way they are encased provides a huge choice for them. Add to that Draper’s Lifetime Guarantee and a choice of finishes and they are definitely in the mix for users looking for high quality and versatile tools. It looks like Draper’s ‘Strength in Quality’ strapline points the way.

Mirka DEROS and Abranet Ace Abrasives - Perfect Partners?

DEROS – Direct Electric Random Orbital Sander

The Mirka DEROS 5650CV 125/150 Orbit 5.0 Case UK – its full title – is a well specified and thoroughly modern sander – and its price reflects this. But it is also very well made, versatile enough to fit into a large number of work scenarios, both on site and in the workshop, and it reflects most of the current developments in sanding technology. So once again it is a case that you get what you pay for.

A Brief Run Down of Specs

  • Integrated vibration sensor
  • 5mm oscillation
  • Powerful brushless motor
  • Constant speed electronics
  • Built-in motor brake
  • Soft start
  • Motor speed control lever
  • Improved dust collection backing
  • Left or right handed use – or two handed use
  • Lightest machine on the market
  • General or specialised sanding
  • 125 or 150mm sanding pad options
  • Performance comparable to a standard 500w electric ROS

It has an integrated vibration sensor that can be connected via Bluetooth and the myMirka app (downloadable via Google Play and the Apple app store) that monitors exposure to vibration. Sanding machines rely on a vibratory movement in order to work, so it is clear that users will be subject to some hand/arm vibration. 

And it is actually so compact and light that it is simply easier to handle and manipulate when sanding. The on/off switch is inset into the body and the operator simply pushes down the lever on top of the body to start sanding. This lever invites left or right handed use, and when it is released the sander stops very quickly due to the motor brake.

The Abrasives?

Mirka is well known for its development of net-based abrasives. The hook and loop backing is efficient enough to give a good grip on the sanding pad as well as allowing dust to be vacuumed clear.

I was given three types of abrasives to compare – Abranet, Abranet Ace and Abranet Ace HD – but users have an excellent choice depending on what they are sanding. I have used simple Abranet discs a lot, even on my other random orbital sanders and I have always managed to get an excellent and, more to the point, quick finish on my work. An easy task it would seem, since I mostly sand wood and manmade boards. If I have a small criticism of the discs it would be that I mess up the rims of the discs because I sand too close to edges.

Abranet Ace abrasives were developed for more demanding sanding applications. I tried it on beech, elm and oak and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I could get a decent result. If I could put a figure on it, I reckoned I could get a comparable result about 20 to 25% quicker than using my ‘standard’ abrasive discs on my ‘standard’ ROS. 

The Abranet Ace HD discs I was sent even looked slightly different from the above mentioned ones. The ceramic grains seemed to be a bit more prominent and attached to the disc so that the abrasive surface was more noticeable. On the back the net also looked woollier and deeper with very pronounced gaps in the net structure that would clearly allow the sanding dust to be quickly cleared through it. I tried some 40 and 60 grit discs to sand down a large area of wall that had to be prepared for painting. I have to say that the results were very impressive – to the point where I actually went up a few grades so that the sanding wouldn’t be too aggressive and destroy the plaster surface. I tried something similar on painted wood and the job literally took a few minutes to clear the frame of a door back to the wood through several layers of old paint. Impressive – and time saving.

Perfect Partners?

The answer is of course, a definite yes. Having a lightweight and very efficient sander combined with some hard working and effective sanding discs is a winning combination. In truth, I am going to miss the DEROS a great deal when it goes back because I can genuinely say that it has saved me time and effort on the jobs I did with it. Hopefully I can hang onto it a few weeks longer……

 

 

Why Buy?

  • Lightweight
  • Modern
  • Controllable
  • Monitorable
  • Very efficient
  • Combine with discs for excellent results
  • Easy to use
  • Symmetrical design for L and R users

 

Mirka DEROS and Abranet Abrasives - Perfect Partners?

Sanding is not nearly as much of a chore since the invention of random orbital sanders and longer lasting abrasives. Chuck in a few dust control and collection regulations and some new materials to be sanded, and what the various manufacturers' R&D teams come up with can be truly amazing. I was impressed with the Mirka CEROS sander I tested a few years ago, so I looked forward to trying out the Mirka DEROS to see how far things had come.

DEROS – Direct Electric Random Orbital Sander

The Mirka DEROS 5650CV 125/150 Orbit 5.0 Case UK – its full title – arrived in a bright yellow, custom-fitted sustainer case. It all felt a bit lightweight for an industrially rated sander – but fear not, the lightness is very much a virtue, and by no means a reflection of the performance of the tool. It was also accompanied by a variety of net sanding discs so that I could compare the performance of the machine and discs in various sanding applications.

The DEROS is a well specified and thoroughly modern sander – and its price reflects this. But it is also very well made, versatile enough to fit into a large number of work scenarios, both on site and in the workshop, and it reflects most of the current developments in sanding technology. So once again it is a case that you get what you pay for.

A Brief Run Down of Specs

  • Integrated vibration sensor
  • 5mm oscillation
  • Powerful brushless motor
  • Constant speed electronics
  • Built-in motor brake
  • Soft start
  • Motor speed control lever
  • Improved dust collection backing
  • Left- or right-handed use – or two-handed use
  • Lightest machine on the market
  • General or specialised sanding
  • 125mm or 150mm sanding pad options
  • Performance comparable to a standard 500w electric ROS

Anyone who appreciates sanders will look at the above list and immediately get the point that the DEROS is a cut above. But there are a couple of features that caught my eye as significantly important to follow up on. 

For instance, the DEROS has an integrated vibration sensor that can be connected via Bluetooth and the myMirka App (downloadable via Google Play and the Apple app store) that monitors the exposure to vibration of its user. Sanding machines rely on a vibratory movement in order to work, so it is clear that users will be subject to some hand/arm vibration. Most users stop sanding when their fingers tingle – but this is not a safe indicator – so a vibration monitor that gives accurate timings is going to be a good deal safer.

The other thing that is obvious is that the DEROS is actually so compact and light that it is simply easier to handle and manipulate when sanding. The on/off switch is inset into the body and the operator simply pushes down the lever on top of the body to start sanding. This lever invites left- or right-handed use, and when it is released the sander stops very quickly due to the motor brake. It is very easy to get used to the ease and sophistication of this sander and it will make you think about how other random orbital sanders work.

The Abrasives?

Mirka is well known for its development of net-based abrasives. These have the advantage of not having to have holes pierced into the sanding discs in order to allow the collection of dust. The hook-and-loop backing is efficient enough to give a good grip on the sanding pad, as well as allowing dust to be vacuumed clear.

I was given three types of abrasives to compare – Abranet, Abranet Ace and Abranet Ace HD – but users have an excellent choice depending on what they are sanding. I have used simple Abranet discs a lot, even on my other random orbital sanders, and I have always managed to get an excellent and, more to the point, quick finish on my work. An easy task it would seem, since I mostly sand wood and manmade boards. If I have a small criticism of the discs it would be that I mess up the rims of the discs because I sand too close to edges.

Abranet Ace abrasives were developed for more demanding sanding applications. By using ceramic abrasive grains, tougher hardwoods, like oak, are easily and quickly sanded. But it can also be used fruitfully on various industrial finishes and primers. I tried it on beech, elm and oak and was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I could get a decent result. If I could put a figure on it, I reckoned I could get a comparable result about 20 to 25% quicker than using my ‘standard’ abrasive discs on my ‘standard’ ROS. 

The Abranet Ace HD discs I was sent even looked slightly different from the above mentioned ones. The ceramic grains seemed to be a bit more prominent and attached to the disc so that the abrasive surface was more noticeable. On the back the net also looked woollier and deeper with very pronounced gaps in the net structure that would clearly allow the sanding dust to be quickly cleared through it. I tried some 40 and 60 grit discs to sand down a large area of wall that had to be prepared for painting. I have to say that the results were very impressive – to the point where I actually went up a few grades so that the sanding wouldn’t be too aggressive and destroy the plaster surface.

I tried something similar on painted wood and the job literally took a few minutes to clear the frame of a door back to the wood through several layers of old paint. Impressive – and time saving.

Perfect Partners?

The answer is of course, a definite yes. Having a lightweight and very efficient sander combined with some hard working and effective sanding discs is a winning combination. In truth, I am going to miss the DEROS a great deal when it goes back because I can genuinely say that it has saved me time and effort on the jobs I did with it. Hopefully I can hang onto it a few weeks longer...

Wera 2go Helps us to Get Organised

Why Buy..?

  • Stylish and practical
  • Well designed for easy carrying of a range of tools
  • System built for versatility
  • Strong nylon manufacture for long service life.

Regular users of Wera tools will know that the brand is well known for its systemisation. The tools are designed to work together to help users to maintain some semblance of organisation. Wera does this with careful tool presentation in wallets etc, and by making tool identification as easy as possible.

But wouldn’t it be good to have a quick method of carrying the tools – perhaps gathered from the workshop as well as the van – in a way that keeps them all organised, together and in an easy-to-carry (including up a ladder!) format? As ever, Wera designers are ahead of us, with the launch of the new 2go System.

I will start with what I think is the basic piece, the 2go 1 - a semi-rigid piece of strong black nylon fabric folded in the middle with four faces. Inside and out it is covered with big patches of hook and loop material. Over the fold there is a loop handle sewn in, and to this can be attached an adjustable shoulder strap. In this form the 2go 1 is a blank canvas onto which many other things can be easily attached. Users who already have other Wera tools, like the rigid-walleted Zyklop and socket sets, will be able to attach these to the 2go 1 on both sides, since they have the necessary hook and loop strips on them.

The most distinctive part of the 2go set in my view is the 2go 2. It consists of three pieces – the shoulder strap, the tool caddy pouch and the big, rigid box. This case is 35cm wide, 34cm tall and 11cm deep. The front, back and sides have hook and loop material attached. The front panel can also be folded down for easy access, and the folded panel also has hook and loop attached. This increases the user’s ability to attach the wallets needed, as well as being able to work from the open case.

A similar arrangement on the lid, which can be folded right back flat, means that wallets can be attached here too.

The fact that the case has a big, flat base to enable it to stand upright on an even surface is also really helpful.

It wouldn’t be out of place to carry a small cordless drill driver and spare battery in the spacious main body of the case, but the third part of the 2go 2 comes into its own here. This is a tool caddy with adjustable compartments and its own nylon handle that is perfect for carrying the myriad different screwdrivers we need to have with us these days. And since the screwdrivers can be arranged handle-up, we can take advantage of the fact that Wera drivers can be easily identified by the engraved marks on the tops of the handles, and their new Tool Finder colour code system, thus saving time and hassle.

The padded, adjustable shoulder strap has strong nylon lock-on clips that attach to the tool case so that it can be carried easily, or even taken up a ladder.

The last piece of the set is the 2go 3. This is simply a large, rigid wallet, about 32cm long, 14cm high and 8cm deep with its own small carry handle sewn in. It is a great ‘hold all’ for spanners, pliers, cutters and even a small hammer. A wide strip of hook and loop on the back of the case means that it is equally at home attached to the 2go 2 or the 2go 1, or attached to a space in the van or workshop.

Fein-Dustex-35-MX-AC-Extractor

Portable M Class Extraction for Improved Dust Safety

WhyBuy..?

  • Portable M class dust extraction
  • Highly mobile
  • Powerful suction
  • Will clean up your site as well as extract from machines
  • Good set of tools as part of the package

Cleaning up on many worksites and workshops still consists of a sweep round with a broom, thus actually raising the dust levels considerably. More recently, trades have been adopting vacuum extraction for power tools and then for the final clear up of the client’s floor. What we need are M or H class vacuum extractors if we really want to do a good job of cleaning up dust from source.

What impressed me with the Fein Dustex 35MX AC was the power of its suction. It really is an efficient machine with lots of airflow to keep the work area clean – whether it is from a circular saw or a static machine like a router table. It is also remarkably well behaved and easy to use because it has been well designed and thought out in the first place. It is the sort of machine that will be used because it is not a hassle to get it connected, or change from one function to another.

It has 5 metres of a ‘proper’ tough 35mm diameter corrugated hose and about 7 metres of heavy-duty rubberised electric cable, making the ‘working circle’ about 12 metres – enough for much site work. These also make it easy to position the vac out of the way for avoiding trip hazards.

Controls on the 35 MX are easy to understand and operate. There is a dial for adjusting the hose diameter if needed - up to 50mm diameter down to 15mm for use on small hoses needed for smaller power tools. The suction rate can be adjusted too – some things don’t need full power to extract properly. There is also a switch for auto cleaning.

Movement of the machine is pretty easy on its four wheels (front wheels are braked) and the back wheels are big enough to run over rough stuff and be easier when going upstairs.

Another little touch is that the top of the filter housing is shaped flat to hold a typical Fein toolcase so that tools and extraction can travel together.

Accessories are generous and suitable for workshop or site use. The two-part tubular pole can have a floor cleaner, nozzle or brush fitting on it and all the press fits are safe and secure, and dust free. The base can be lined with a plastic bag or paper dust bag for safer emptying and disposal of waste, and of course you can collect water with it straight into the base.

I used it both on site and in my workshop. In the workshop it kept the router table surface clean and dust free despite having to be connected via an adaptor. The noise levels are not bad and cleaning floors at the end of the day was a doddle. On site the client asked to have a go with it because her domestic cleaner was making no impression on the dust left by the decorators and their rather pathetic vacuum cleaner. Even the decorators asked about it once they noticed how efficient the clean-up was and it gave me an opportunity to tell them a bit more about adequate dust protection. A paper mask won’t always cut it!

There are lots of things to like about this machine and in my view it should definitely be on a shortlist of M class vacuums now that we should all be doing something about workplace dust.

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