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Reviews at a glance

The MudGun from National Abrasives No Fuss Drywall Taping and Repairs

National Abrasives has taken on the agency of the MudGun from Canada. In North America, filling plaster used in drywall construction is referred to as “Mud” – We have followed the trend in our building methods and it is fair to say that we now need the MudGun in the UK to help us fill the skills gaps as well as the gaps in our drylining.

The basis of the MudGun is the gun itself. It is like a larger sealant gun. This is the basic “mud delivery system”. Both kits come with two nozzles - one for flat joints and the other for inside corners. There is also a 7 inch finishing head, a T-adaptor, an inside corner smoothing tool and a cleaning brush.

The MudGun Pro differs slightly with two extra additions – a loading ring and a MudPak adaptor. This allows it to use the “sausages” of premixed Mud that are very quick to use for small repairs and filling. It is possible to mix filling plaster to the right consistency for the MudGun, but with a ready mixed bucket of Mud or MudPaks, users will always have the necessary at hand.

The loading ring is included in the Pro version so that bulk buy users can load the mud into their gun without exposing the mud to the air.  

The MudGun comes with a set of very comprehensive instructions that explain basic use and point out potential glitches.

I used the MudGun only with the MudPaks and the they are simplicity itself to use. I was impressed with the robustness and size of the trigger and handle mechanism. It is solidly made in metal and is able to resist the inevitable ravages of drying plaster and plaster dust.

The nozzles, both flat and corner, are easy to attach by simply screwing them on, and can be easily adjusted to the correct angle by just backing off the collar a bit.

The MudGun can be used for doing simple repairs of holes and cracks in plasterboard, and the instructions provide clear advice on how to proceed.

Where professionals would save time is by using the MudGun to tape and finish the joints between sections of drywalling. Using the T adaptor and the finishing head, layers of mud can be quickly applied to the edges of joints to even them out and also to fill in any slight gaps that might not have been covered first time round.

The finishing head can be adjusting via a sliding switch to vary the depth of the mud that is applied. The whole head and adjustment mechanism is made of plastic and the switch can be popped out for easy cleaning – because nothing sticks like dried plaster.

I wouldn’t say I became an expert after half an hour of using it, but I will say that I had improved enough to be able to do a good job. Keen DIYers and DIY property developers should be keen to take a look at it too.

Several Builders Merchants & DIY stores have placed orders at the recent trade shows as well as Belmore Tools, a specialist Drywall tool distributor.

WhyBuy..? 

  • Easy way to apply plaster
  • Quick and easy to use
  • Repairs, taping, and filling all possible with this
  • Robust construction
  • A good way of avoiding waste

CAMPINGAZ Garden Torches – Fiery Weed Control

I am the world’s worst gardener, and what I always look for is a quick and easy solution to weedkilling.Chemical weedkillers seem to offer what seems to me a thorough solution to regrowth, but they are sometimes not indicated when animals and children are around, so the CAMPINGAZ garden torch offered a different solution to my weeds.

I was sent two gas-powered garden torches – the CAMPINGAZ GT 3000 PZ and the CAMPINGAZ GT 2000 PZ. For easy display in shops the torches are blister packed. Both torches use the CG3500 gas cartridge - clearly labelled as Garden Gas and is a butane/propane gas mixture.

They are V-shaped with the burner end of the V elongated enough for the burner to reach comfortably to the ground while held by an average height user. In the middle of the V there is a plastic handle that provides grip and comfort as well as protection from any heat. On the other end of the handle is the gas valve onto which the gas cartridge is screwed. Also on the long end of the V is a small piezo button that, when pushed, provides a spark to ignite the gas. The V shape allows the user to balance the tools in the hand so that they can swing easily forward and back and from side to side to provide maximum coverage when killing weeds.

These gas burners work by scorching the leaves of the plants. This causes them to die back and become unable to absorb the light and nutrients necessary to survive.

I mostly used the GT 2000 PZ gas burner tackling the weeds growing up between the joints in my patio and on my front path. This burner is about 100mm long and 15mm wide and it causes the flames to jet out of the burner quite intensely.

The GT3000 PZ with its 50mm diameter burner claims that it is up to four times faster at killing weeds than the standard 22mm diameter burner nozzle. I used it on some stubborn grass growing on my path and patio. The burner also contains the flames from going too far so that you can direct them pretty accurately

I was able to use these garden torches over a period of several weeks and I did find the easy to use. Getting them out of the shed and attaching the gas cartridges takes only a matter of minutes. Accuracy is good too – it is fairly easy to avoid burning plants that you don’t want to target.

In my experience of using these garden torches, they are a very useful way of controlling weeds since they provide one more weapon in the armoury. I found that I had to “reburn” every couple of weeks or so to keep the weeds permanently down, simply because some weeds are very tough and need repeat treatment. 

 WhyBuy..? 

  • Chemical free way to weed
  • Easy to aim and apply
  • Quick too!
  • Gas canisters freely available
  • No need to bend over!

TIMco C2 Multi-Purpose Screws

TIMco (T I Midwood and Co Ltd) was established in 1970 and was in the business of importing and wholesaling screws, fastenings, fixings and power tool accessories. By 2016 it had a workforce of approximately 110 and a multimillion-pound turnover. The company also owns the Addax brand of specialist power tools and in 2010 acquired FirmaHold, a leading brand in collated nails and fuel cells. This shows that TIMco is a well-established supplier with deep connections in the fastenings and fixings business.

I was sent a few boxes of the TIMco C2 Multi-Purpose screws to test - they are a development of the popular TIMco Classic that has sold billions.

The C2 was evolved to meet current standards and preferences, reflecting some of the changes and developments in driving technology etc.

The C2 Multi-Purpose screw uses a patented twin-cut technology that in tests has achieved a 43% quicker screw time, using half the torque from the drill driver.

A close look at the tip of the C2 will show you the twin cuts. Right at the very sharp tip, a slot has been cut into the thread pattern - it acts like a cutting edge when the screw is driven, effectively drilling its own pilot hole. Another slot further up the thread not only cuts but also clears, allowing the screw to speedily cut through the material.

A sharp point on the end of a screw enables quicker starting. The C2’s point is so sharp that it can be pushed into the timber (especially softwood) for easy starts.

A close look at the thread will confirm that it is quite widely spaced but very sharp-edged. The thread is also well defined so that it will cut into the substrate material and hold firmly. It reaches almost all the way up the straight shank of the screw, leaving just a few millimetres clear between thread and head.

The heads of the screws have several “ribs” underneath that allow the screw to seat properly in a countersunk hole and make the screw self-countersinking. The “ribs” also help to reinforce the head for strength.

Another key element of the C2 design is the driver recess. The C2’s recess is deep and accurately machined and will hold onto a decent driver bit by friction alone.

I also tried a box of C2 Exterior screws with a silver ruspert plating. Designed to offer superior corrosion resistance to be used on decking, fencing to fixing external latches and hinges. Maybe I will get the chance to tell you how I got on with those in a year or so!

For retailers TIMco makes the packaging and display options easy too. There is the option of the C2 metal Trade case with over 1,800 screws in it – ranging in sizes from 3.5 x 16mm up to 5x100mm.

Standard cardboard boxes of TIMco C2 screws are marked for identification for size and gauge in easy-to-read black letters on a white background – my aging eyes are grateful for such clarity.

 

WhyBuy..? 

  • Premium quality screws
  • Comprehensive range
  • Corrosion protected
  • Easy start/drive design
  • Different variants for a multitude of jobs

Sanding Innovations from National Abrasives

Anything that helps to minimise effort, time and mess when sanding big areas is worth a look as far as I am concerned, and the kits from National Abrasives looked useful.

The Multi-Purpose Sander Quick Change System consists of a pole, a large, 220mm diameter sanding disc, a handle and a pole adaptor. Each of the pieces can be used in a variety of combinations according to need. The glassfibre pole can be used with both round disc and corner sander discussed below.

Because of its flexible universal joint, the adaptor allows the user to sand in every direction and follow junctions like skirtings and covings with ease.

To reach other areas, maybe lower down, simply remove the pole adaptor and attach the handle to have a big area of sanding literally at your fingertips.

Users have the option to attach wipe-down sponges or microfibre cloths to the disc (with pole or handle) for the final step.

By using either the gold aluminium oxide optional disc, you can sand fillers, wood, paint and metal quite aggressively.

The tungsten carbide disc can smooth concrete and masonry - not a job I fancy – but the small trial piece I did worked well.

All of the pieces of the kit can be replaced, including interface pads, thus making for a kit that can be added to as well as renewed as necessary.

The Multi-Use Corner Sander is a similar concept – its main part is the right-angled ABS plastic corner sander. Sanding sheets can be attached to either or both of the arms of the right-angled legs. When sanding right up to the edge of a floor for example, you can leave the abrasive off the angle facing the skirting so that it is not sanded.

For a softer touch on the sanding, there are additional foam pads with hook and loop surfaces.

There is also the option to attach either the handle or the pole adaptor. Using the handle I found it really easy to sand right up to doorframes since the abrasive reaches up to the corner and maintains its right-angled shape. Using the pole allows the reach for coving, corners or ceiling/wall junctions and it is efficient too.

There are some excellent accessories as well. A set of wipe-down sponges makes it easy to get the dust out of corners, and a made-to-measure microfibre cloth gives a good final wipe down in preparation for painting etc.

I found these kits a lot easier to use than I thought. The pole sanding options were actually much more efficient and easier to control because the backing discs are rigid and the hook and loop fixings are secure. The universal joint on the adaptor allows really flexible movement of the pad and discs, without losing control or accuracy.

WhyBuy..?

  • Very versatile – used on a pole or by hand
  • Reaches to ceiling height without a ladder
  • Sands right up to edges
  • Quick
  • Easy to control
  • Different surfaces sanded with different discs
  • Easy to swop abrasives via hook and loop
  • Economical way to sand big areas.

 

HYPERTORCHES from Campingaz

The two gas torches from Campingaz’s HYPERTORCH range are both suitable for skilled DIY and trade use – using a mixture of butane and propane gas to deliver enough heat for soldering copper pipes and removing paint etc. Campingaz claims that the mixture gives an extra 35% of heat energy compared to a single gas.

Both of the torches come in a simple and PZ version. The PZ version is lit using the piezo switch that provides the spark to light the gas, while the simple version will require a lighter.

The HYPERTORCH A2000 PZ has a pistol grip and small gas canister. It stands roughly 20cm high and is 27cm long with a brass nozzle that stands out to direct a flame onto the work area. The body is made from a solid plastic. Areas of ‘manual use’ are picked out in red – like the piezo switch.  The handle itself is large enough to fit a large gloved hand. It has some grippy checkering and finger grips and the piezo switch is placed where it can be flicked by a thumb. Just behind the switch is the adjustment wheel marked with a clear + and – to indicate on and off for the gas.  

The instructions and safety guidance provided with both torches are clear and explicit on how to use the torches safely, how to mount the gas canister and how to deal with some of the safety issues that might occur. The simple line diagrams are clear and referred to in the text so users can ensure they are doing the right thing.

Using the torch does not need a degree in engineering – all controls work easily.

The first time it took a matter of minutes to get it going.  The click-on plastic base is wide enough to provide a very stable stand for the torch. And it can be removed when the gas canister needs to be replaced. With the wheel valve in the closed position, the gas canister is screwed on slightly more than finger tight until it is sealed against the O-ring on the valve assembly. Then open the valve wheel and flick the piezo switch until the flame is lit. Once the flame has stabilised, use the valve wheel to get the sort of flame you need for the job in hand. Plumbers will be happy to know that this torch can be used in a full 360 degrees once the flame has been stabilised.

The HYPERTORCH A3000 PZ has a bigger (and therefore longer-lasting) gas canister and the long slim shape helps reach into spots where the A2000 cannot. Again, the plastic base means that it can be put down safely.

The torch head is solid plastic with working parts picked out in red and the piezo switch doubles as the gas valve – making one handed use a possibility. Ergonomically shaped bulges and bumps allow the user to hold the nozzle onto the work area while keeping fingers clear of the heat. There is also a loop stand to hold the torch flat. It could also be a hanging hook for the back of a van.

 It takes minutes to get this torch operational with a flame adjusted for work. It too can work in 360 degrees so the user can get the best angle to work.

Campingaz offers these professional torches with a limited 2-year guarantee, and from my experience of them they will withstand the bumps of a worksite.

 

WhyBuy...?

  • Light
  • Easy to handle
  • Full 360 degree burn
  • Cartridges easily available
  • Enough heat for trade use
  • Base stabiliser included

Draper 160L 230V Cement Mixer

There is a special logic to this mixer – the 160 litre capacity means that it can use one 25kg bag of cement per mix – making it much easier to get a consistent mix. A full load of sand/aggregate mixture, cement and water is roughly 90 litres so with an actual mixing capacity of 110 litres, there is more than enough space in the drum.

Self-assembly is the key to the pricing of this machine, but it is not difficult if you follow the correct sequence – USE THE INSTRUCTION BOOKLET!

Although single-handed building of the mixer is possible, it really helps to have a second person to lift the heavy bits and occasionally hold a spanner.

The tubular-steel tall stand is sturdy stand and has no trouble in supporting a fully loaded machine.

The frame that supports the motor and drum assembly is also made from sturdy steel tubing, and the wheels are big enough to cope with sites. Finally, the tilt bracket is a solidly welded construction that is used to tilt the whole machine when used on the tall stand.

The motor is shrouded in its own plastic waterproof housing. It is simply lined up with the drive shaft and bolted into place onto the frame with no electrics to connect other than a standard UK plug. The motor is amazingly quiet and there wasn’t much noise from the drive gear.  

Getting the mixer onto the tall stand is a one-person job if it is empty and the ground surface is not too slippery. The instructions provide an illustration of how to do it safely, and the height off the ground is good even for loading some of the bigger barrows.

When testing I bought bags of ready mixed concrete and added these to the drum that had some water in it. This was then followed by the rest of the water and after a few minutes I had a perfectly smooth mixture of concrete ready to pour. This I did by simply using the wheels to manoeuvre the mixer to the hole and then tipping the required amount into it.

Cleaning mixers can be problematic - there always seem to be bits stuck that result in the lump-hammer solution to drum cleaning!  I prefer plastic drums – they stick less and don’t respond so badly to lump-hammer cleaning methods.

The Draper, with new paintwork and smooth drum interior, was fairly easy to clean with a jet nozzle – but it does use a lot of water to do a thorough clean.

Why Buy..?

  • Well priced
  • Good capacity
  • Two operating heights
  • Big wheels for easy moving
  • Compact enough for a van 

 

JCB Cagelow Safety Trainers

Why Buy..?

These JCB Cagelow B safety trainers from Progressive Safety felt comfy after about half an hour, and by the end of the day I wouldn’t have been able to tell that they were new shoes. This is because the fit is wide and the toes rounded without looking clumsy.  I found myself adopting them for everyday use even when I wasn’t working in the workshop or on site because they looked fine with their black uppers and flexible grey mesh covering that provides comfort and ventilation. The dual density heels and soles cushioned the feet nicely.

The trainers are easy to put on and take off and the padded tongue and ankle pieces make feet feel comfortable and secure. A loop on the heel can be used to pull the trainers on to avoid muddy hands in the case of dirty shoes.

Since my work is mainly indoors or in my workshop, I prefer the flat soles whose ridged patterns don’t collect as much mud as cleats, and are easier to wipe off on a mat. The grippy pattern of ridges and bumps on the soles provide a secure feeling when walking, but won’t leave a trail of gunk behind you.

The soles are also antistatic rated for reducing, removing or preventing static build up. They are also tested to the highest levels of slip resistance (EN ISO13287 (2011) so should give you a firm footing. But they are also flexible so that when I was kneeling down and my feet were bent, the soles were able to accommodate the movement.

The Cagelow Trainer’s non-metallic sole offers protection from penetration from a force up to 1100 Newtons.

Without giving you a ‘lumpy-toe’ look, the toe protection provides protection up to 200 Joules and an energy absorbing heel.

I found that the comfort and protection offered by these JCB Cagelow Trainers suited me very well and I am happy to recommend them. 

WhyBuy..?

  • Comfortable
  • Meets safety specs
  • Sole doesn’t gather mud etc
  • Mesh makes for flexibility
  • Good ventilation

Sanding Innovations from National Abrasives

Anything that helps to minimise effort, time and mess when sanding big areas is worth a look as far as I am concerned, and the kits from National Abrasives looked useful.

The Multi-Purpose Sander Quick Change System consists of a pole, a large 220mm diameter sanding disc, a handle and a pole adaptor. Each of the pieces is able to be used in a variety of combinations according to need. The glassfibre pole can be used with both round disc and corner sander.

Because of its flexible universal joint, the adaptor allows the user to sand in every direction and follow junctions like skirtings and covings with ease.

To reach other areas maybe lower down, simply remove the pole adaptor and attach the handle to have a big area of sanding literally at your fingertips.

Users have the option to attach wipe down sponges or microfibre cloths to the disc (with pole or handle) for the final step.

By using either the gold or aluminium oxide optional disc, you can sand fillers, wood, paint and metal quite aggressively.

The tungsten carbide disc can smooth concrete and masonry - not a job I fancy - but the small trial piece I did worked well.

All of the pieces of the kit can be replaced, including interface pads, thus making for a kit that can be added to as well as renewed as necessary.

The Multi Use Corner Sander is a similar concept –its main part is the right-angled ABS plastic corner sander. Sanding sheets can be attached to either or both of the arms of the right-angled legs. When sanding right up to the edge of a floor for example, you can leave the abrasive off the angle facing the skirting so that it is not sanded.

For a softer touch on the sanding, there are additional foam pads with hook and loop surfaces.

There is also the option to attach either the handle or the pole adaptor. Using the handle I found it really easy to sand right up to doorframes since the abrasive reaches up to the corner and maintains its right-angled shape. Using the pole allows the reach for coving, corners or ceiling/wall junctions and it is efficient too.

There are some excellent accessories as well. A set of wipe down sponges makes it easy to get the dust out of corners and a made-to-measure microfibre cloth gives a good final wipe down in preparation for painting etc.

I found these kits a lot easier to use than I thought. The pole sanding options were actually much more efficient and easier to control because the backing discs are rigid and the hook and loop fixings are secure. The universal joint on the adaptor allows really flexible movement of the pad and discs, without losing control or accuracy.

WhyBuy..?

  • Very versatile – used on a pole or by hand
  • Reaches to ceiling height without a ladder
  • Sands right up to edges
  • Quick
  • Easy to control
  • Different surfaces sanded with different discs
  • Easy to swop abrasives via hook and loop
  • Economical way to sand big areas.

JCB 2CX /G Suede and Mesh Boots Perfect for Winter?

I hate having cold and/or wet feet while working but these boots are as modern looking and as stylish as work footwear can get without being impractical. Taking them off and putting them on is made easier via metal lace loops. The strong nylon woven laces slide through these without catching. It would be great to have hooks on the last couple of to make it even easier.

Comfort

My foot comfort in work boots relies heavily on having the boots lined with a sympathetic but insulating material – and in this case the box is more than adequately ticked because comfort and warmth is taken care of by a heel to toe lining that is thick enough for warmth and good padding.

It took only about an hour or so to go from “new boots” to “comfy boots” and the fit is wide enough for adequate room for your protected toes.

Cleated soles are great for muddy grip, but they carry a lot of mud – the soles on these didn’t – a great feature.

Safety

When it comes to protections though, the relevant EN ISO 20345:3011 standards apply so you will be protected against slipping, penetration, electrical currents, water absorption etc. 

I am happy to report that I found these grey suede boots all of those and they will therefore be joining my small collection of work shoes that I definitely will use again and again – especially in winter. 

www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUBrTtyQ9h4
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Draper STORMFORCE 10.8v -Choose What You Like

The Draper STORMFORCE collection is a set of cordless tools that offers users lots of choice. There are five tools in the range so far – a Drill/driver, a Combi hammer drill, an impact driver, a reciprocating saw and a cordless ratchet.  

Commonly powered by a 10.8v Lithium Ion battery they can be bought as a complete kit with charger and spare battery, or “bare”. you can acquire a decent range of tools without having to buy any “unwanted extras”.

The Kit

The combi/hammer came as a complete kit packed in a custom fitted plastic case, with a place for tool, spare battery and charger. It has a good quality 10mm keyless chuck, rubberised protection “bumpers” on the body and a very comfortable handle. The 1.5Ah battery pack slots into the bottom of the handle and there are nice touches like the big LED light above the trigger that comes on automatically when the trigger is pulled.

There is a battery charge indicator on the top of the handle, a reversible belt hook, two speeds, a twenty-one position torque setting collar with drill, drive and hammer position.

The charger takes an hour to charge a battery and the tool will drill 25mm diameter holes in timber, 10mm in masonry and 10mm in metal.

The “Bare” Tools

I was sent the drill and impact driver. Packaged into compact boxes, they look much the same and share the features like LED worklight, battery indicator etc.

The drill has the same 10mm keyless chuck as the combi, but the collar for selecting torque for screwdriving has 20 steps and a drill setting. It has two speeds and a specified 25Nm of torque on tap. It will also drill 25mm holes in wood and 10mm holes in metal – the same as the combi above.

The Draper STORMFORCE impact driver has a magnesium nose, a spring collar collet chuck and will deliver up to 80Nm of impact torque, so 80mm screws into thick softwood was no trouble at all for this little machine.

The “bare” cordless ratchet with its 3/8” square drive it will fit standard sockets. Controls are simple – a trigger and forward/reverse. A small switch can be used to lock the operating trigger in case of manual usage and there is a handy LED light, battery charge indicator and a useful 45Nm of torque on tap.

This STORMFORCE recip saw has a quick release blade fitting, a decent worklight, battery charge indicator and trigger lock function. With its 130mm long blades it has a lot of capacity packed into its compact body – it will cut 65mm in wood, 50mm in plastic and up to 8mm in metal.

So……

Some will find excuses to buy all the pieces of the kit and store them in the handy kit bag that Draper supplies.Spare batteries and chargers are also available separately should they be needed.  

www.youtube.com/watch?v=QKdB1Zp44RE

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