HiKOKI launches collectible limited edition ‘Catacomb’ range

HiKOKI Power Tools UK has launched a collectible range of Limited Edition ‘Catacomb’ tools, featuring an eye catching and funky ‘SKULL’ design.

The SKULL range includes the DV18DBXL 18V Brushless Combi Drill, the WH18DBDL2 18V brushless Impact Driver and the WR18DBDL2 18V Impact Wrench. The tools’ SKULL wrap looks stunning and will be an eye-catching edition to any tradesperson’s toolkit.

The SKULL DV18DBXL 18V Brushless Combi Drill has a high maximum torque of 136Nm and comes 6.0Ah Li-Ion batteries with a fast charger with 38 minute charge time. It has a Reactive Force Control (RFC) safety feature, brushless motor and comes with a high performance Röhm chuck with spindle lock. It has 22 stage torque settings and a built-in LED work light.

Meanwhile the SKULL WH18DBDL2 18V brushless Impact Driver features a high power brushless motor with maximum tightening torque of 207Nm (hard) and is IP56 rating for dust resistance and waterproofing. The Impact Driver has a triple hammer mechanism with three anvils for higher power and extended life. A 4 mode speed selection allows the tool to be used for a variety of jobs.

The max tightening torque is 305Nm for the 18V WR18DBDL2 and has a compact design for better handling, is highly efficient and has a tightening mode for a variety of applications. Its Friction Ring Anvil allows for smooth socket changes and it has a newly designed airflow system for optimal cooling efficiency. IP56 rated, this is a tough tool designed to withstand the effects of dust and water.

The SKULL Catacomb Limited Editions look set to become collectors’ items and are available from a select number of distributors and for a limited time only.


Budget drills a bargain? Getting good value for under £40

THE first review I ever wrote for TOOLKiT (then titled ToolBusiness Magazine) more years ago than I care to remember, was a roundup of cordless drills. They ranged in price from £12 to nearly £100. Lithium Ion had not been heard of and if you got 12v of power you were lucky - the norm was more like 7.2v or 9.6v. Nevertheless, it was enough to drive screws up to about 35mm (in softwood with a pilot hole) or drill holes up to about 10mm in diameter. Compared to using a pump-action screwdriver – the Yankee - using a cordless drill was positively controlled and easy.

I am not a believer in the notion that things were always better in the old days. Some things might have been better, but I wouldn’t swap my 21st century tools and fixings. They are simply better, quicker, easier, more accurate and possibly even relatively cheaper too. So it seemed like a good idea when the editor suggested that we evaluate some budget cordless drill drivers to try to get a perspective on how things have developed. Accordingly, I was given a budget of around £120 and told to scour the sources to find a representative sample of cordless drills to examine closely.

As expected, online offers are many and various but I wanted to find the tools where the delivery time was realistic, (not direct from China) and also where a non-specialist tool user might look if they needed a budget drill. I managed to find three samples from the high street stores Argos and Robert Dyas. These represented good value and the typical tools that an occasional tool user might buy. Wickes supplied the last sample.

All the drills had the now universally adopted, more powerful Lithium Ion battery packs. No more nasty, poisonous NiCads. But clearly the battery packs on the samples were at the cheap end of the market – 18v battery packs for top branded tools could easily cost £100 or more.

Great expectations

As can be seen from the specs, our expectations of these tools is high. Keyless chucks, softgrip handles, variable speed triggers and an LED are included as standard. These features make for a much better ‘feel’ from the tools and they have been expected on more expensive drills for years, so they can’t cost that much to include.

I was also struck by the fact that each drill seemed to handle well with a comfortable grip, easy-to-reach trigger mechanism and easy adjustment between modes. They certainly didn’t feel clumsy. I think this just shows how the knowledge and experience gained by designers of these tools has enabled them to shortcut the design process to come up with a good design first time. The tools certainly seem to handle and perform well, possibly even better than (if my memory isn’t too faulty) the pioneering cordless drills from the 1980s.

The tests

What I then needed was a set of standard tests based on the specifications of the drills to try each one in turn and see how each performed. With two 14.4v and two 18v drills to try, each test had to be fair to the capabilities of each tool.

First up is, of course, the drilling test. Ensure a fully charged battery is in place and then use a new drill bit (10mm is max size in each case) to drill as many holes into a test piece as you can before the battery runs out. I used quality drill bits because, although some drill bits were supplied in the kits, I wasn’t convinced that they would last well enough to conduct a fair test. Fortunately, I had enough 18mm plywood offcuts to conduct the tests easily. I could have used thicker stock for the tests but that would mean having to lift and clear the drill bit several times and that might affect the results. This probably means that the number of test holes exceeded my expectations but I did also try using the drills in 75mm thick softwood and they still

managed to drill through that without too much effort.

Biggest diameter holes test

Spade bits enable bigger holes to be drilled because they have very little friction. The downside is that the holes can be rough and inaccurate if you don’t take care. All the drills managed 15mm (copper pipe size under sinks) and I drilled sequentially bigger holes until I got to 32mm diameter – my largest spade bit.

Longest screws test

Self-explanatory really – there is little need to pull out a screwdriver these days – a good drill driver will drive most screws with ease. The best test is to try to find out what the limits are when driving increasing sizes and gauges of screws into a big wooden block. All drills managed to drive 4 gauge 70mm long screws into softwoods but things became decidedly more difficult beyond that.


To the outcomes……


Wickes Cordless Drill Driver 10.8v Lithium


Case: Plastic carry case

Chuck: Keyless chuck (2-handed) 10mm

Torque settings: 18+1

Speeds: Variable 2+forward/reverse

Battery Pack:1.5 Ah L Ion

Light: LED

Charger: 30 minutes

Battery: 3 light charge indicator

Soft grip handle



Torque 18Nm

Steel 6mm

Wood 19mm

Weight 0.97kg

Cost £35

The Wickes drill driver is the most compact and light of the set, but the design is more pistol-like with the battery stored inside the handle. It needed to be used in ‘slow gear’ to ensure that the 10mm holes were drilled – it stalled in ‘fast gear’. While it drilled its 138 holes it did become quite hot but never seemed at risk of failing. Its 14.4 volts of power seemed to be more than adequate for a drill that is compact and obviously looks like a DIY tool.

It managed to drill up to a 32mm hole in softwood with a spade bit, again needing to be in low gear to avoid stalling. The Wickes drove a 70mm long woodscrew into softwood well with no grunts or groans, but it became more difficult with anything much longer. Drilling steel was a slow process and needed a sharp new drill bit to achieve the results.


Challenge 14.4 Impact Drill from Argos


Case:  in a card box

Chuck: Keyless chuck (2-handed) 10mm

Torque settings: 18, Screwdriving and hammer

Speeds: Variable 2 speeds+forward/reverse

Battery Pack: One 1.3 Ah L Ion

Light: LED

Charger: 3 to 5 hours

Battery: 3 light charge indicator above trigger

Soft grip handle

Comes with double ended screwdriver bit



Torque 15Nm

Steel 6mm

Wood 15mm

Masonry 8mm

Weight 1.190kgs

Cost £30.00

The Challenge faced a challenge when drilling 6mm holes in wood in ‘top gear’. Up to around 4 or 5mm diameter holes were possible in this gear, but anything bigger necessitated the change to the lower and slower gear and that produced a creditable 106 holes on a full charge. The motor became quite hot but never seemed like quitting.

There was enough torque to make my wrists take note after 50 or so holes.

It too managed to drill 32mm holes with a spade bit – perhaps a bit slower than the others, but without obvious signs of strain. Driving screws up to 70mm long was achievable but after that a bit of coaxing was needed. Although the capacity in steel was stated as 6mm in the specs, I ran out of patience before the hole was completed.

As the only drill in the test with an impact mode I did try drilling a 6mm hole in a standard house brick, and it did do the job – so if you were putting up curtain poles in brick, the job wouldn’t take forever. A different story in concrete though, where the bit made very little impression after several minutes of trying.


Guild 18v Lithium Ion Drill Driver from Argos


Case: Supplied in a card box

Chuck: Keyless chuck (2-handed) 10mm

Torque settings: 16+1

Speeds: Variable forward/reverse

Battery Pack:1.3 Ah L Ion

Light: LED

Charger: 3-5 hours

Battery: no charge indicator

Soft grip handle

Comes with belt hook



Torque 18Nm

Steel 10mm

Wood 20mm

Weight 1.22Kg

Cost £30.00

The Guild from Argos manged to drill an amazing 212, 10mm diameter holes in hardwood ply. The motor got hot from continuous use but never missed a beat until the battery ran out. On the holes test I doubt whether many end users could complain about its capabilities – when was the last time you needed to drill 212 holes continuously? Similarly, although it has only a single gear, the torque levels saw it through the spade bit test and the screwdriving test quite well, where the slower speed but greater torque made a big difference. Screws up to 80mm long could be driven with care, but not much beyond that


Hilka PRO-CRAFT 18v Lithium Ion Cordless Drill from Robert Dyas


Case: Plastic carry case

Chuck: Keyless chuck (2-handed) 10mm

Torque settings: 16+1

Speeds: Variable 2 forward/reverse

Battery Pack:1.5 Ah L Ion

Light: LED

Charger: 3-5hours

Battery: X2 with 3 light charge indicator

Soft grip handle

Comes with 13 accessories (drill bits, driver, bit holder)



Torque 15Nm

Steel: not given

Wood: not given

Weight 2.4 Kg

Cost £39.95

The Hilka comes with two batteries and, on the basis of the holes test, it needs them because although it managed 128, 10mm diameter holes on a full charge, this was significantly fewer than the 18v Guild drill.  A tad worrying was the smell of hot connections inside the motor housing and the heat from the battery pack. Heat is the enemy of battery packs so it is always better to let things cool down and change the battery pack if possible. The spade bit test was similar to the others with it being necessary to adopt ‘low speed’ to have enough torque to drill the hole. Driving screws up to 70mm was achievable, but not much beyond that.

What’s to like and dislike?

The truth is, there is lots to like in these four samples I have tested. They all have enough power to do small jobs around the house at a very reasonable price – much less than my weekly grocery shop or a tank of petrol for my hatchback. Such tools will often be bought to complete a fencing job, erect a shed or to hang a few curtain poles. The motors have enough power and torque to drive screws up to 70mm quite easily, and this should be adequate for most domestic jobs.

When it comes to drilling holes, again there is enough power to do several holes, and even drill quite big holes using a spade bit. Big enough to deal with plumbing pipes and cables most of the time.

The drills are all comfortable to handle, easy to use via well-placed controls and are compact enough to fit inside kitchen cabinets for example, with LED lights to illuminate the workpiece. They are not too heavy so could be used by people with smaller hands or with odd twinges of arthritis, or above the head or working on a ladder.

In short, the technology and design of these drills is pretty well sorted and occasional users could buy one with confidence knowing that they would probably get value for money.

However - and it is a big however - what is saving the cash on these drills is the battery packs. In a professional tool, a big 18v battery pack would be expected to push out anything from 5Ah to 8 or 9Ah, so it should last the whole day at work. Also, it will be expected to charge in around 30 to 60 minutes, so workers never have any downtime from their tools. But such capacity costs money. The battery packs have complicated electronic monitoring systems so they don’t deep discharge, they can be partially charged safely, and believe it or not, the high quality Lithium that is used in them is more expensive compared to that used in smaller, less demanding tools. Even while doing this testing I found myself becoming very impatient having to wait three to five hours while the batteries charged between tests. (The exception here is the Wickes drill, which charges in 30 minutes.)

What will also add cost to professional tools is a smart charger, usually a custom fitted case and perhaps a couple of accessories like a belt hook and an auxiliary handle to help manage torque loadings well past the 30Nm mark.

So would I be prepared to swap my drill drivers for cheaper ones? The short answer is no. After trying out the budget drills I reached for my 18v name brand professional drill and did some of the tests again. What you get from a professional tool is speed and power and the sort of capability that makes jobs easy – like driving screws up to 180mm long for example. And it is so effortless – there is no need to coax the tool along. A real ‘Power to the Professionals’ feeling. These days there is no need to stick to 18v tools-10.8 and 12v professional quality tools deliver the compact size and power needed for many kitchen and shopfitters without having to wait five hours for a battery to charge.

I think that users of professional quality tools have been spoilt by the power and sophistication of them. So, unlike the very first cordless drills from the 80’s, we have all the power of the mains but keyless chucks and ergonomic designs that are easy to use safely. Workplaces are made safer too with fewer electrical hazards and no trailing cables. Professional users pay a premium for their very capable cordless tools, but DIYers also benefit from the R and D that went into them by cashing in on good tools at bargain prices well suited to their needs.

There is still a huge market for cheaper tools. Not everyone needs or can afford the best, so it is good to know that there are tools out there to fulfil a range of needs at a range of prices. Win, win I’d say.


National Home Improvement Month kicks off with a broadcast media fanfare

THE British Home Enhancement Association (BHETA)’s annual consumer-facing promotion, National Home Improvement Month (NHIM) kicked off on September 1 with a round of media on national and regional radio network interviews, highlighting the nation’s new love affair with DIY. 

National Home Improvement Month (NHIM) usually takes place in April but was this year postponed owing to COVID-19.

Supported by Homebase and Wilko, the campaign aims to inspire and enable consumers tackling home and garden projects or having fun with crafts and upcycling. National Home Improvement Month features the tagline ‘Love The Home You Live In’, and consumers can get involved by following #makeonechange and #loveyourhome.

This year’s NHIM follows on from months of lockdown, during which 39% of Brits have rediscovered DIY home and garden improvement, contrasting with only 1 in 10 who were confident enough about it before the effects of the pandemic were felt. What is more, with more time and more money on their hands, it seems a new generation of DIY-ers has been born.

In fact, over half of those who made changes to their home were found to be aged 24-34, with the second largest grouping being under-24s. Similarly, over two thirds of those aged 24-34 revealed that they felt more confident in their DIY skills because of the time spent tweaking their homes over lockdown.

With an 84% increase in online searches for ‘home décor’ over the summer – according to Google -  and a doubling in UK searches for ‘garden tools’ in the same period, NHIM is all about maintaining momentum on this DIY fervour. NHIM ambassadors Craig Phillips (TV presenter, DIY expert, and former Big Brother winner) and Georgina Burnett (TV presenter, property and DIY interiors expert) have both echoed the call. Moreover, BHETA’s marketing manager, Steve Richardson took part in 16 radio interviews on the renewed popularity of DIY to kick off the campaign.

Steve commented: “National Home Improvement Month is always an exciting time for BHETA and for the home improvement industry. It is great that suppliers and retailers are working together to help people all over the country. The emotional benefits of improving your home environment have always been immeasurable, and lockdown has illustrated that we all need a home that supports our day-to-day lifestyle.

“NHIM is offering consumers the chance to continue their enthusiasm, hone their skills even more, be inspired by the next project and boost confidence still further. #makeonechange is inspirational and achievable and to celebrate, we are challenging consumers to do just that with the opportunity to win over £1,000 worth of home improvement goodies from National Home Improvement Month sponsors Nilfisk, House of Mosaics, QEP, and Schneider Electrics. 

By uploading their project to [email protected]onth.co.uk, along with just 30 words on the reasons behind it, a great makeover prize can be won.”

Will Jones, chief operating officer of BHETA, added: “This is great news for BHETA and great news for BHETA members. With leading brand suppliers like QEP, Schneider Electric, Croydex, House of Mosaics, Nilfisk and Amtech (DK Tools) on board with NHIM, we will be working together to engage with consumers and stimulate retail sales throughout the autumn.”

Steve continued: “To ensure both suppliers and retailers get the most out of the NHIM campaign, there will be online features and coverage in national and regional consumer media, plus a full suite of social media - Instagram / Twitter / Pinterest / Facebook. NHIM also has a dedicated website of ideas and information, blogs and 'how to' videos. Marketing materials for merchants, retailers and wholesalers keen to join in include point of sale, posters, press ads, PR templates and social media opportunities.”

National Home Improvement Month is a BHETA initiative in a joint venture with The Relations Group which is a specialist broadcast PR company. 

For more information about getting involved with BHETA and National Home Improvement Month, contact Member Services at BHETA on 07946 078566 or email [email protected].

FEIN multitools become one MultiMaster family

POWER tools and accessories manufacturer, FEIN, has simplified its product range, grouping its multitools together to form one new MultiMaster family.

The MultiMaster 300, 500 and 700 series, formerly known as the MultiTalent, MultiMaster and SuperCut, will now form one unrivalled family of multitools.

Scheduled to launch this September nationally across the UK with the aim of streamlining product lines for end-users and dealers alike, the globally renowned range will now encompass the three oscillating power tools. Each product will also be available as both cordless and mains-powered options.

“The MultiMaster range provides a one-stop-shop for a breadth of jobs, be it cutting, sawing, sanding or polishing, due to its incredibly extensive catalogue of compatible accessories,” commented Raphael Rudolph, managing director of FEIN UK. “Whether you’re on site for eight hours a day or completing a quick DIY project, the three new products offer a range of performance classes, from entry-level to super powerful for the most demanding requirements.”

The MultiMaster family is compatible with a total of 180 accessories, enabling end-users to complete a range of jobs with just one tool. The MultiMaster 700 series, formerly known as SuperCut, has the ability to saw wood, metal and plastics, while also cutting out tiles, silicone joints and carpets rapidly to precision, and removing adhesive residues and tile adhesive. The 700 series comes in various packages, including up to 60 accessories, making it ideal for all levels of the construction process and everyone from general builders and roofers, to plumbers, carpenters and electricians.

“Due to its robust design, the MultiMaster 700 can cope with the toughest conditions and is able to operate with all Starlock accessories, including Starlock, Starlock Plus and Starlock Max,” added Raphael.

The MultiMaster 500 series, formerly known as MultiMaster, can be adapted to complete a range of interior jobs such as sawing wood and metal, as well as sanding and removing tiles, and is available with different packages including, the AMM 500 Plus TOP with more than 30 accessories. Meanwhile the MultiMaster 300 series, previously known as MultiTalent, is designed for sawing wood, metal, plasterboard and plastics and can be purchased with a variety of basic accessories. Both MultiMaster 300 and 500 series multitools are compatible with Starlock and Starlock Plus accessories.

As part of the product range expansion, the company will also be offering up to £100 in Amazon vouchers to any customers trading in their old non-Starlock FEIN tools for the new MultiMaster 300, 500 or 700 series, when they register for the three-year FEIN Plus warranty. 

“The MultiMaster 700 series is one of the most powerful, precise and rapid multitools out there and we’re anticipating it to quickly become the market-leading multitool in the industry, due its advanced and innovative features,” continued Raphael. “The 300 and 500 series offer compatibility with an extensive mix of accessories to complete a roster of jobs, also at a great price point.”

Starting prices for the new MultiMaster 300, 500 and 700 series are £135, £150 and £210 respectively, with various add-ons available for each tool, from accessories to batteries for those opting for the cordless option.

“We were the first company to invent a handheld power tool over 150 years ago and our heritage, alongside our expertise, really have positioned us well to continue launching new, innovative and market-leading products consistently for more than a century. We’re excited to be unveiling this update to our already prominent MultiMaster family and know our customers and dealers will welcome it too,” concluded Raphael.

To find out more about the new MultiMaster 300, 500 and 700 series, visit fein.com/en_uk/

TRACER pens: Making their mark

WHEN it comes to everyday marking, I confess I most often make do with a carpenter’s pencil, and yes, it is sometimes stored behind my ear rather than in the neat little slip pockets provided in the holsters of my work trousers. The truth is, I am often just cutting bits of timber roughly to length ready for preparation, so I don’t need anything more sophisticated.

But I am always sure to bring along some other markers when I go on site – usually two or three different types – because you never know what materials you might come across and what level of accuracy will be required in the marking. Very often, any marker that improves accuracy is not only to be welcomed but embraced.

Introducing TRACER

Some readers will be familiar with the ACER markers reviewed in these pages some time ago. But in the tool trade, as in life, things change, so the new TRACER markers should be seen as an evolution and development of the originals.

As we can see on closer examination, the TRACER markers incorporate a lot of mini-improvements that are the result of consumer feedback and further development work by the Royd Tool Group team.

I would characterise the new TRACER markers as more grown-up and accomplished versions of the ACER markers that makes them easier to use, more efficient and more versatile.

The new TRACER designs keep all the subtle bits of design that made the ACER version easy to use. For example, you still have the pimpled finger grips on the cases and the tiny, but important, barbed hook on the pocket clips that keeps them in the pocket when the pen is pulled out for use.

Different pens for different marks

The TRACER marker that I used the most was the deep hole pencil marker. It has the virtue of being a simple pencil marker as well as having the potential to mark through a hole up to 50mm deep, and a lot deeper if you are prepared to risk the lead and extend it by pressing the button on the top of the marker. For my common usage, a marking depth of 50mm is enough for marking through the thickness of most battens that I fix to walls.

But it is the subtleties of the design that add to the user-friendly qualities of the pencil TRACER and make it a go-to.

Firstly, the case has been made just fat enough to fit snugly into the slit pockets on the front of many designs of work trousers. The snugness of fit means that when you pull the pencil out, the case doesn’t come with it and makes the possibility of losing it as you clamber around on site that much less.

But if you are wearing the pencil in a shirt pocket with a case, the subtle dot design on each side of the pocket clip means that fingers can grip the case easily as you pull the pencil out. I have already mentioned the tiny ‘barb’, common to all the markers, on the inside of the pocket clip that prevents the case from being pulled out of the slit pockets easily. Such detail in a ‘simple’ marker product – it is hard not to be impressed.

In a further refinement, showing how subtle the designers have been, It is possible to clip the pen to a shirt pocket because it too has a small clip. This of course risks getting pencil marks on the inside of your pocket, but that is up to you. I also really like the way the last few millimetres at the top of the marker flares out, making it easy to grip, even for gloved fingers.

The leads seem to be soft enough for making easy marks but hard enough to last a while without needing sharpening. TRACER designers have solved the problem of the disappearing lead sharpener by making it integral to the top of the pocket case clip. I think it’s a great idea simply because, on reflection, I have lost all the sharpeners on almost every marker pencil I have ever used, so I rely on a sharp utility knife blade to do the honours. This can lead to some crude pencil points and lots of wasted leads.

Of course, it is always handy to have a spare lead around for replacements. Housed in a case that is very similar to the markers, users can buy a selection of leads in a couple of different colours, and these are easily dispensed via the revolving top.

I like this pencil and it has gone straight into my daily ‘must have’ tool workbox.

Deep hole marker with ink

Sometimes when deep hole marking (like onto glass or other very smooth surfaces), a pencil is no good because it will not make a mark. It is then time to reach for the deep hole ink marker, which is very effective at marking on laminates, glass, etc. As I write, my right forefinger still bears the mark of an encounter with the pen tip. A quick ‘swipe with a wipe’ will get rid of it, but the point of this marker is to provide a clear, longer lasting and visible mark, and it does this very well.

Clog-free markers – Never mind the dust, rust and dirt

The three clog-free TRACER markers I was sent to try look, at first glance, exactly like the pencil marker. But a comparison reveals that the pocket case has a shorter point to allow for a thicker pen body and the ink reservoir for the sturdy felt tip marking point. Since felt tip pens need a case to hold the ink and protect from drying out, the pocket case needs to be sturdy and effective – which these ones are.

The markers come in three colours – black, red and blue – so users can choose what colour is most likely to show up clearly on whatever material they are using. The marks on my fingers after playing around with the pens on different surfaces, show that the ink is semi-permanent, but will come off quite easily with soap and water or a multi-wipe.

I tried marking on dirty, rusted, dusty and slightly oily surfaces and the pens came up trumps – they do deserve the name ‘clog free’ because dust and other stuff simply doesn’t seem to affect their ability to make a usable mark and the marks dry quickly enough so as not to smudge too easily.

Evolution works

I have never doubted that evolution can often be better than revolution. ACER to TRACER is a case in point – a basically sound product has been thoughtfully improved, and I am sure this will make end users even more likely to choose it.


(K)New from Knipex – Gripping and cutting sophistication

I NEVER cease to be amazed at the ways in which what seem like ‘standard’ tools in ‘standard’ forms can be re-imagined and reshaped in ways that (usually) result in a performance improvement.

Sometimes the changes in the tools reflect the changes in fixings or the need for more exacting standards in areas like specified torque levels. More sophisticated manufacturing, better materials and greater understanding of how these materials perform, probably means that no manufacturer can sit back and become complacent.

Modern users simply don’t seem to accept that their tools can’t be better. A hundred years ago trades weren’t as spoiled as we are, maybe?

Pliers wrench

Out of the eight Knipex samples I was sent for review, it was the biggest that caught my attention first – a 300mm long Pliers Wrench.

The name indicates its functions – it can be used as pliers and as a wrench or spanner. These functions are made possible by the ingenious design of the bottom jaws that not only slide up and down to adjust to the size of the fixing, but these jaws continue to remain parallel, making it much easier to get a good grip on a hex nut or the parallel faces on a particular fixing. A friend of mine with a 35-year career in the gas industry, from shop floor to management, declared that they were the perfect tool for gas and smart meter fitters because of this feature.

I must admit that it was the sheer ease of use and cleverness of the jaw design that made this tool a favourite for me. It is as good as a spanner in many situations, much better than a traditional adjustable spanner, and, in use, the handles stay close enough to allow me to use just one hand, and not two to operate it. The bottom jaw slides on a very accurate ratchet and can be moved by pressing the spring-loaded button on the top handle.

Operation is smooth – no catching or jerky adjustment on the ratchet teeth and it can stretch to a massive 68mm wide. Laser cut marks, metric on one side of the ratchet and imperial on the other, allow the user to set a size to suit the fixing.

Plastic jaws are available that fit tightly over the steel jaws to prevent marking on more sensitive or softer surfaces.

These Plier Wrenches come in a few sizes, in black and chrome finishes and different grips. Definitely a tool that I would want to add to my toolkit.

PreciStrip 16

I am sure that there are many electricians out there who strip the ends of wires quickly and efficiently with a pair of side cutters, but the Knipex PreciStrip16 brings predictability, accuracy and versatility to the task.

Not to mention speed. As I worked the handles and watched the wire stripping process each time, I couldn’t help but admire the accuracy and ease with which the jaws worked – and it didn’t matter if it was 0.8mm wire or 16mm wire. All the user has to do to ensure that all the stripped ends are the same is to insert the wire to the set depth on the jaws – adjustable all the way to 20mm.

Apparently, the ease of cut is made possible by the parabolic blades that enclose the insulation better than circular ones as they cut. The blades can be easily replaced in one hit as they are contained in a cassette. The downside of sidecutters when they get blunt is that they have to be discarded.

It is fiddly and time consuming to change tools for different jobs, but the PreciStrip has a wire cutter on the fulcrum to ensure a neat end before starting the stripping process, so no need for another tool.

My electrician friend was predictably non-committal when I let him use them on a job, but his comments afterwards showed that they worked well and made his job easier. If you can impress the old timers, then I think Knipex has got it right. A definite thumbs up for the PreciStrip16.

Pipe cutters

I am used to cutting plastic pipes, mostly 20mm plumbing pipes, and I use the standard pipe cutters with the bypass blades that look like garden secateurs. Well forget them, what you need is a pair of the new Knipex plastic and aluminium pipe cutters.

The old expression ‘like a knife through butter’ applies here – they cut pipes from 12 to 25mm in diameter with an ease that will astonish. I was able to cut 5mm long sections off the end of a pipe with ease and the ends were perfectly straight and accurate because the blades cut so easily that the pipe did not deform when cut. I am sure that this speed and ease is almost entirely down to the super sharp hard steel blade and the design of the handles for easy cutting pressure to be applied. The blade is replaceable by simply unscrewing two screws, making it easy for this tool to be a long term and greener investment than older designs.

For cutting multi-layer and pneumatic hoses, the same ergonomic handle set is used with the addition of a different anvil/pipe support that makes it easier to ensure that the pipe is cut precisely at right angles. Again, this made cutting so easy and accurate that I think the old bypass designs will be binned quite soon. I just hope that the replaceable hardened steel blades for both tools are not overpriced.

CoBolt cutters

The CoBolt family of cutters was designed to be smaller but not less capable of cutting bolts, hard wires and braided cables. The offset fulcrum design is the key to its cutting power and users have a choice of 160, 200 or 250mm lengths to suit their trade needs.

The cutting edges are well matched and hardened so even the small 160mm version was very capable of cutting bolts, cables and screws up to about 5mm in diameter. The handles are shaped to protect fingers and also increase cutting pressure. Another feature is the gripping surface behind the fulcrum that can be used to grip and pull wires.

Another pair of cutters that became a favourite is also 160mm long and light – so an easy fit into a trouser pocket. I mostly used it for cutting cables and wires which it did with ease. The cutting edges are designed in a series of small scallop shapes that spread the cutting load, so making it easier to snip away neatly.

Like the cutters above it has shaped handles to aid grip and cutting power and the simple dipped plastic handles aid comfort and handling.

TubiX pipe cutter

There is no doubt that the new TubiX pipe cutter is a more sophisticated way of slicing pipes. It can accommodate pipes from 35 to 6mm in diameter and can cope with copper, brass and stainless steel pipes courtesy of the ball-bearing quality steel cutting wheel that is mounted in roller bearings.  

It didn’t take me long to get a series of cuts going on some copper pipe because the design follows a familiar pattern to standard pipe slices. To start, you simply place the pipe into the upper jaw against the rollers and then push the spring loaded cutting wheel against the pipe where with a bit of practise you can get it quite firmly bedded first time, every time, because the rollers are big with good bearings. Then twist the whole tool over the pipe and tighten the adjuster to push the cutting wheel into the pipe. As you get good at it, it takes only about 25 or 30 seconds to cut a 20mm copper pipe. A final deburring on the inside of the pipe is done by flicking up the deburring tool on the back.

Once I got used to the TubiX I found that I was able to cut and deburr pipes very quickly and I began to wonder whether I would ever want to go back to my simple pipe slice.

Crimping pliers

For most small electrical jobs I do, ‘crimping’ usually just involves twisting the end of the wire by hand, but these days with ever smaller junctions and connections, this way may not be accurate enough.

Knipex has a range of crimping tools but the one I was sent for review worked in a way that I was unfamiliar with. It is adjustable for crimps from 0.08 to 16mm by simply lifting and twisting the adjustment button to the right size. The results of this crimping tool are very neat, tight and square-shaped wire ends that fit easily into the contacts – and all of this is achieved in seconds. My guess is that once used, electricians might even use the crimps on basic electrical tasks like socket fitting to save time.

I have always rated Knipex products and I have used various Knipex cutters, pincers etc in my work for many years. But I am also happy that things move on and this range of new tools is definitely worth a look. I think they are greener and more sophisticated and, used correctly, they will be real time savers. Definitely lots to like.


Snickers Workwear - Cool and smart this summer

LIGHTWEIGHT shirts, shorts and trousers make working on site a breeze this summer.

Everyone needs to be cool, dry and safe at work this summer - to maintain wellbeing and working efficiency on site. That’s why Snickers’ new topwear will make work this summer a real breeze!

There’s also brand new LITEWork trousers and shorts, plus special offer ‘Two-pack’ 100% cotton T-shirts. Choose from three different easy-care colour and design options to compliment whatever you’re wearing - at work or play.

There’s also new hoodies, sweatshirts and hi-vis ProtecWork protective wear in a range of styles and colours that are super-light and quick drying with advanced ventilation to keep you cool when it’s warm.

They’ve all got superb, body-mapping designs for an amazing fit, outstanding functionality and long-lasting comfort – all day, every day.

Getting information on the Snickers’ summer workwear range is easy. You can call the Hultafors Group  Helpline on 01484 854788. You can check out the website and download a digital catalogue at www.snickersworkwear.co.uk or email [email protected]

Hellberg Safety – Advanced Personal Protective Equipment

SPECIALIST PPE for highly advanced hearing protection, face protection and communication solutions.

Using high quality materials, all Hellberg Safety products are developed and independently tested in “real-life” situations for optimal performance to deliver products that are comfortable and reliable in any risk environment.

The SECURE series features everything from standard passive ear defenders available in 3 protection levels to advanced electronic communication solutions.

SECURE ACTIVE allows you to communicate with your colleagues, hear warning signals and other important information while protected from hazardous noise. SECURE RELAX protects your hearing while you enjoy listening to your favourite radio station, while SECURE REACT allows you to listen to AM/FM radio and communicate with your colleagues while still being protected from harmful noise.

The SAFE face protection range offers customised visors solutions for protection against a variety of hazards. The visors and carriers are ergonomically designed to be practical and effective and are fully compatible with the SECURE system.

Getting information on the new Hellberg Safety product range is easy - call the Hultafors Group UK Helpline on 01484 854788, checkout the website www.hellbergsafety.com or email [email protected]

Hultafors Tools’ new range of screwdrivers

PRECISION, quality and ergonomics are the hallmarks of these superb new products.

Hultafors Tools has launched a new range of Screwdrivers for professional craftsmen and women. With VDE Screwdrivers specially designed for electricians – including tested and certified SL/PZ and VOLTAGE TESTER models - theres over 80 other SLOTTED, PHILIPS, POZIDRIV, TORX® STUBBY Screwdrivers, plus Hex Drivers and Bit Holders that can be bought individually or in sets – or by size - to suit the jobs you have in hand.

Researched and developed with craftsmen and women for professional use, they all have a superb ergonomic design for optimal comfort. The long rubber-coated handles ensures grip for precision and maximal transmission of power. The handle is made from durable PPC plastic with a coating of age-resistant and easy-to-grip rubber.

The permanent marking of type and size on the top as well as the handle’s colour make it easy for the user to select the right screwdriver. Blades are manufactured from high-quality hardened steel for long life. The handles have a hole for hanging or securing with a design prevents the screwdriver from rolling on inclined surfaces.

Getting more information on the Hultafors Tools product range easy. You call the Helpline on 01484 854788 or check out www.hultafors.co.uk and download a digital catalogue.

EMMA Safety Footwear just got safer for you and the environment


NEXT Generation Safety that takes your wellbeing and the environment as seriously as you do!

Now part of the Hultafors Group’s PPE portfolio, EMMA Safety Footwear is a fully EU accredited range of excellent values shoes and boots that satisfy a wide range of user needs and workplaces - including light and heavy industry sectors plus office and retail environments.

Complementing the Solid Gear and Toe Guard range, EMMA safety footwear includes all the Hultafors Group hallmarks of hi-tech designs that combine top quality materials for ultimate comfort, maximum safety and wellbeing at work.

What’s more, if sustainability is a priority for you and your company, every product in the EMMA range is made entirely from recycled or recyclable materials. It’s a 100% ‘circular’ manufacturing, usage and recycling process for every shoe and boot produced under the EMMA brand.

So, to make a positive footprint in your workplace, if your ordinary safety footwear just isn’t up to the job, you can be sure there’s an EMMA product that is.

You can view the EMMA catalogue HERE.

To get more information on EMMA Safety Footwear, visit the website at www.emmasafetyfootwear.com , call the Snickers Helpline on 01484 854788 or email [email protected]



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