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Draper's sleek Storm Force tools make able cordless companions

DRAPER’S blue and black Storm Force range of cordless tools is now well established on the market and provides end users with a comprehensive choice of 10.8v and 20v cordless tools at very competitive prices, writes PETER BRETT.

My experience of these tools is that they are competent and well made with most, if not all, of the bells and whistles required by end users these days.

A couple of months ago I reviewed the 20v combi, SDS and hammer drills and now it is the turn of the 20v angle grinder and reciprocating saw to go under the magnifying glass.

The angles on the grinder

For me, an angle grinder is one of those indispensable tools that I use infrequently but when you need one, no other tool will do.

The top three features that I look for in an angle grinder are balanced handling, a safe and easy to operate switch and a cutter guard that is easy to adjust, preferably without tools. In my view, this Draper Storm Force delivers on these so we are off to a good start.

Balance, in a cordless tool, is a lot about where the battery pack is placed and the Storm Force follows a lot of other designs by having the gearbox head and the battery pack at each end of the body to counterbalance each other.

Combined with the three-position auxiliary handle, most users will be able to find a position where the cutting disc can be safely applied to the work and held securely for maximum efficiency.

This is helped by the fact that the body of the grinder tapers gently down from the switch to the battery pack and so can be easily gripped by even small hands like mine.

It is also helped by generous and grippy rubber moulding strategically placed at the top and bottom of the body.

The slider switch is easy to operate with your thumb by left or right handed users but, as we all know, the real test will come after many hours of work when the combination of brick dust and metal filings created by the cutting discs start to clog the switch sliders.

Ideally, we should all take better care of our tools but experience tells us that isn’t always possible. The good news is that the Draper’s switch stayed easy to lock off and on during my trials of it.

Getting the right angle on the cutter guard is very important to protect the user from the spray of sparks or dust coming from the cutting disc when in use.

Sometimes the guard has to be adjusted several times in the same cut depending on the circumstances so it is important that it is easy to adjust.

The Draper uses a clip system that is simply sprung open to move the angle of the guard and then sprung closed again to secure it.

The clip has a small adjustment screw on it to take into account wear and use, and the collar on which the clip is mounted is wide enough to achieve easy movement.

The collar also has a groove cut into it to secure the spring clip when it is loose, so it will not simply fall off during readjustment.

Details like these are tiny, but are actually very important for making a tool hassle free to use.

A black-coated alloy gearbox head incorporates the spindle lock. It engages positively and then the removal or replacement of the cutting disc with the two-pronged pin spanner supplied is easy.

Just a quick mention of the auxiliary handle: it too has generous grippy rubber and a substantial collar around the end to prevent fingers being exposed to the cutting disc.

In use, the things I really liked about this angle grinder proved to be the easy handling and adjustments made possible by the slim body and balance of the tool.

Using the cutting discs supplied for the test I was able to cut stainless steel rods, mild steel sheet 6mm thick and some hard face bricks.

I chose to use the grinder with the bigger 4Ah battery packs which lasted well, but it is possible to use the smaller (and lighter) 2Ah packs that are an option in this ‘bare’ tool.

Recipe for recip?

One of the things I like about the angle grinder above is the slim and easy to grip body, so I was pleased to note that the theme continued on the Storm Force 20v reciprocating saw.

It is actually very light and compact, and while it might be said that it lacks the bulk of some of the competition, I think that its compact size could be an advantage – particularly getting into smaller spaces where size and weight can make for di‑ culties both in access and in deft handling.

That is not to say that this recip saw lacks features. Fitting the blade is done in an instant by simply twisting the knurled knob on the recip arm and inserting it.

Blades can be used with teeth facing up or down for greater versatility.

The shoe is moved by unlocking the grey lever which allows users to regulate how much of the blade can be used in the cut and also solves the problem of getting the most use out of the teeth.

On the left of the body is another small grey lever that selects either simple straight cuts or an orbital cutting action that is much faster when cutting softer materials like timber and MDF.

Safety-wise, the on/off trigger is locked as the default position – the user has to use their thumb or forefinger to push the sliding switch to one side for the trigger to be depressed to the start position. An excellent feature in my view.

Handling is good courtesy of the black rubber overmould on the D-handle and on the slim body profile.

Balance is good because the battery pack serves as a counterweight to the motor and gearbox. Recip saws can be very power hungry when used hard but the battery packs (either 2 or 4Ah) have a red/amber/green system for telling users the state of charge.

With all recip-type saws the choice of blades is key to getting a good cutting performance. The wrong blade will result in over-fast or slow cutting and a very quick drain on the battery. I was sent a choice of GP wood and metal cutting blades that performed well.

I really liked the fact that this saw is light – only 1.7kg without a battery pack – and yet has the capacity to cut wood up to 115mm thick or alloys up to 10mm thick.

This is enough capacity for most general jobs at home or on a small renovation site. Although it is usual these days to have plastic cases for all tools, I liked the big nylon wide-mouthed carry bag that Draper sent with the tools.

This was easily big enough to hold the grinder and the saw, several battery packs and the charger. With its hard base, it protected the tools from knocks and water and was easy to carry.

It also carried a lot of spare blades, cutting discs and all of the other extraneous stuff that gathers.


www.drapertools.com

Draper Tools’ 12V capacitor jump starter brings even dead batteries to life in minutes

THIS easy-to-use but highly innovative jump starter can be fully primed in approximately two minutes.

It is compact and lightweight yet delivers the same result as a traditional bulky charger.

It’s fitted with advanced capacitor technology that enables the starter to jump start vehicles up to 6L petrol and 3L diesel.

Unlike most on the market, this charger is fitted with an internal battery that energises the inbuilt capacitors, enabling it to start vehicles even when the vehicle’s battery is completely flat.

The unit can be recharged by 12V DC and USB charging cables (supplied).

The LED digital display indicates battery voltage, capacitor charge, lithium battery charge, reverse polarity and function selection.

The unit is fitted with a convenient inbuilt torch with three lighting functions and wrapped in a non-slip protective rubber case.

The stock number for the Draper Tools 12V capacitor jump starter is 82957.


For more information, stockist details and trade enquiries visit:

www.drapertools.com

Draper 20V Storm Force - one battery system and three tools

SOME readers might already be familiar with the Draper 10.8v Storm Force Range reviewed in these pages a while back, writes PETER BRETT.

The launch of three 20v tools to add to these will be welcomed by those users who need a bit more power and capability – think enthusiastic amateurs and light trades.

There are lots of features to note in the range, but dealers and end users alike will appreciate the keen pricing and multiple battery options that are flexible enough to satisfy most users, and also allow options to upgrade and change as conditions change.

The tools reviewed below are a combi drill, an impact driver, and an SDS drill/hammer. Other tools available in the range are a palm sander, angle grinder, oscillating multi tool, jigsaw, circular saw and reciprocating saw.

All have the now familiar and unmistakeable Dark Blue and Black Draper livery with the up-to-date features that most users need these days. Time to look at these tools in more detail.

Combi Drill

This is the only tool in the range that comes in a custom-fitted plastic case, and it comes with everything you need to get started – drill, two 2Ah battery packs, a charger, auxiliary handle, belt hook and driver bit.

The tool is well made and has an abundance of grippy rubber around the handle and trigger area to allow for easy handling, as well as rubber protection ‘bumpers’ on the back of the casing and behind the chuck.

The 20 torque settings, along with hammer and drilling modes are selected via the usual collar behind the 13mm capacity keyless chuck. These are easy to select with a positive click stop on each.

The auxiliary handle screws are under the chuck collar in either left or righthanded positions, and the handle itself has grippy rubber too. A steel belt hook can also be mounted on left or right to suit user preferences, and the LED light on the handle base is aimed straight at the work area.

The 2Ah Li-Ion batteries take an hour each to charge. Drills don’t usually use a lot of power in drilling and screwdriving modes, so a couple of 2Ah batteries will be enough for most users - there is always the option to purchase a 4Ah battery if needed (one of the advantages of the Storm Force 20v system).

In use, the drill performs well on a range of basic drilling tasks. It has 50Nm of torque available and has a drilling capacity of 35mm diameter in wood, and 13mm in masonry or steel – enough to cover a range big enough for most users.

With two speeds selected via a sliding switch on top of the body, and a speed sensitive trigger, it is possible to control drilling speeds very accurately.

With a price point of £89.99 inc VAT, it is clear the Storm Force 20v combi is very well priced and designed to appeal – and it does.

Storm Force 20v SDS+ Rotary Hammer Drill

I rarely use hammer mode on any combi drills these days – not since SDS technology has become cheap enough to be widely available. SDS is just so much quicker and easier, that we are into no-brainer territory.

The Storm Force SDS+ rotary hammer drill is available as a kit with the combi drill and a capacious Draper Storage bag for £215.94, or as a bare tool for £59.95. In my view this represents very good value, as well as increasing the versatility of the Storm Force Kit.

The SDS+ drill follows a similar pattern to the combi above. It is light and easy to manage, as well as being comfortable to handle.

There is also ample grippy rubber to help handling and fend off the inevitable knocks that such a tool may sustain. Mounting a drill bit is as easy as sliding back the chuck collar and inserting the bit, and then seating it with a slight twist.

There is a forward/reverse switch above the trigger and a rotary switch to select hammer or drill mode. An LED light directed at the work really helps to illuminate the piece.

I used the SDS drill/hammer mostly on hard face bricks to mount window and door frames, and it performed well. It has a drilling capacity of 10mm, which is enough for most common household and light trade tasks.

Since drilling masonry is much more demanding than drilling wood, I would recommend that users get the 4Ah battery pack if possible.

Storm Force 20v Impact Driver

Like the SDS+ rotary hammer above, the impact driver is available as a bare tool for £46.14, or as part of a kit with the Impact Wrench (not reviewed) and storage case for £209.94. But for the best of all worlds the 3 Machine Fixing Kit (Combi drill, SDS+ and impact driver) is great value at £263.94

In my view, this is indeed the kit that an ambitious homebuilder or home improver would plump for, as it has the range of tools needed, as well as the possibility of adding battery packs for extra capacity.

The impact driver is no slouch – I had no trouble driving 120mm long concrete screws into hard face bricks through wooden frames. Compared to some impact drivers I have used, it is a lot quieter along with its 180Nm of torque.

It is as well-built as the other tools in the range, with a good ergonomic handle and ample rubberised protection on handle and body. An LED worklight on the base is helpful in darker areas and the 6mm chuck has a sprung, milled collar on it, making inserting and removing bits very easy.

Batteries and chargers

As with the tools there is some choice for users regarding batteries and chargers. For more demanding applications, like rotary hammer use, it makes sense to choose the 4Ah battery packs at £53.94 each rather than the cheaper 2Ah ones at £32.94.

For many users, an hour’s charging time is perfectly adequate, but more demanding work, you might want to choose the fast charger at £31.74 – not exactly bank breaking!

By the way, I particularly liked the battery status lights on the base of the battery packs – three striplights in red, orange and green give you all the info needed.

I think the Draper team have done a good job with this collection of tools.

Individually, they are sound basic tools and users will be able to put together many combinations and kits – all at very reasonable prices.

Storm Force is a really good way of getting exactly what you need, without a large price tag or unwanted tools.

Other tools available are palm sander, angle grinder, oscillating multi tool, jigsaw, circular saw reciprocating saw.

www.drapertools.com

New Range of Socketry from Draper

Why Buy?
 

  • Excellent Quality
  • Neatly Encased
  • Versatile
  • Well Organised

Draper Expert 75-piece socket set

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.

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.

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.

Finding the Level with Draper

 

Levels – is it a Choice between Good value or Accuracy?

Just about every tool supplier has a level or two on its stocksheets, and predictably they can be cheap and nasty or more expensive and good. In my experience buying as good a level as you can afford does pay off. The one I bought from a well-known builders’ superstore was so bad that, years on, it still raises my hackles despite the fact that it was dumped soon after purchase.  

 

The Conundrum

Having done masses of end user research for a major tool company on spirit levels a few years ago, I found out that end users generally want rugged, accurate, easy to read and easy to maintain tools. But making these tools to a demandingly high specification and at a market-beating price is pretty well impossible. Hence the dominance of the bright yellow German brand of levels, despite the high price tag attached. They have reached the level of trust in quality and accuracy where the brand reputation alone is enough to ensure sales. But as ever, there is always room for competition, and since end users are as various as fish in the sea, good quality, value and accuracy can always be judged in different ways for different needs.

 

Some of the Draper Line-up

Exclusive to Draper Tools and available in increments up to 2000mm, Draper’s Expert range of OPTIVISION™ spirit levels is not only well priced, but ticks all of the main consumer demands mentioned above.

 

Just a quick examination of the alloy extrusion and finish will tell you that they are well made and protected against the rigours of the worksite by a baked-on highly visible white finish. Opinions seemed to vary on the colour – the chippies liked it better than the brickies!

Unlike some levels, it has a wide levelling surface that is 35mm wide and milled to a fine, easily cleanable finish. On the magnetic version 600mm and 900mm levels, there are two sets of magnets set into the levelling surface so that it can be attached to metal scaffolding poles, RSJs etc or stored within a van. Some might argue that the magnet settings might be a cleaning problem, but again, users make their choice – which is handier for you?

The rounded top side of the level houses the shockproof OPTIVISION™ vial that comes with a lifetime warranty. The highly visible red vial is UV resistant and accurate to within 0.5mm per metre. Each vial also has a red surround that makes the bubble definition stand out and easy to read. Another interesting feature, and one that divided opinions when I showed it to various trades, was the multiple lines in the centre vial so that users can read the gradient of 1 and 2% depending on need. Again – you pays your money and you makes your choice. I personally thought that it would be a feature that I might use occasionally and would therefore want included.

 

The vertical vial is also shock resistant that can be read from the front and side of the level or indeed from the curved topside via the side view vial feature. I could see that there are some situations where this arrangement would be very useful, but most of the time the front view would be fine.

What I particularly like are the large ergonomic handles that are lined with ridged grippy rubber that makes this solidly made level easier to handle, and even to hang on the end of a handy batten or nail.

Finally, the end caps are thick, solidly made and very shock absorbing; they provide sound protection against accidental knocks and drops. The end caps also include four rubber bumpers that protrude through the body, ideal for gripping on smooth surfaces.
 

Draper Expert Optivision™ Boat Level

Boat levels have an even tougher life than site levels so need to be strongly built and this level is milled from a solid piece of cast alloy. It has three Optivision red vials that all have a lifetime guarantee. The middle dial has three lines on each side of the level indicators so users can gauge gradients. The right-side vial is a plain red with just two lines so that its main trade users, namely scaffolders, will find it easy to read and quick. Interestingly the left-side dial has an angle finder function on it. This is easy to use and very useful – think scaffolders determining the angles of angled cross poles that are necessary for the stability of a whole scaffolding set up.

Big rubber bumpers on each end protect against dropping, and two powerful magnets mounted in a groove on the levelling surface are used to hold the level in place as the poles are levelled. My end users all thought that the quality was self-evident and robustness built –in. This is definitely a level that will find a space in many toolboxes.

 

Prolaser 5-Dot Self Levelling Laser Pointer

This is a simple and compact piece of laser technology that we wonder how we did without - it makes layouts so much simpler, since all dimensions can be done at the same time relative to each other.

In the black nylon case there is the laser, a laser target, a magnetic auxiliary mount and two AA batteries so it is ready to go on unpacking. The device is quite compact at only 95mm long,80mm high and 50mm wide. It has only one switch with indicators for power and laser on and a locking switch on the front releases the self-levelling mechanism. Underneath there is the all-important screw thread for a tripod that would be needed for setting the dots at the correct level needed.

With a range of up to 30m, using the laser target and a self-levelling accuracy of+- 4mm in 10 metres this little device is accurate enough for most layout tasks, and at a price tag that will soon see it pay for itself.

 

The Draper Range

This review looked at only three of the many levelling and marking products in the Draper range just to give a taste of what is available. Draper Expert products are aimed at trade and professional users, but keen amateurs would be wise to aim at this higher price point. Occasional users could look to cheaper Draper ranges that match their demands and skills, but truly, we have a range of kit that will do a good job – any blame for sloping brickwork will only attach to the user!

 

Aimed at: Pros and demanding DIYers who can appreciate the extra accuracy and quality needed for a good job.

Pros: well priced but well made with some unique features and good dial visibility.

 

 

Draper 160L 230V Cement Mixer

For a long while I think it was assumed that a certain orange-coloured cement mixer had cornered the market. But as you know, I am very much in favour of competition, since it most often leads to lower consumer prices and better tools.

This new mixer from Draper was the result of many requests from Draper dealers about adding a Draper-branded product to the competition. As experts on sourcing, Draper went about finding a suitable machine, and the 160-litre mixer is the result – also an orange colour, I might add.

There is a special logic to this mixer that sets it apart from others – the 160 litre capacity means that it can use one 25kg bag of cement per mix – making it much easier for users to get a consistent mix, as there is no need to split a bag of cement and then have to estimate how much has been used for the next 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 for adequate mixing without spilling out or overloading it. By being able to use a full bag this saves time in mixing, whereas many of the similar sized competitors' machines are unable to take the full bag.  

I must admit when I saw the cardboard box that it arrived in I thought that there was no way that a whole cement mixer was inside. However, I was wrong – it contained all the bits for a very satisfyingly well-built machine – all I needed was to put them all together. Self-assembly is the price we pay for value for money items, whether in IKEA or in a tool shop.

I know that some people just ignore instruction booklets, and I have been guilty of this myself, but in this case it would be very good advice to familiarise yourself with the parts and the sequence of assembly – ten minutes on that will save a lot of pointless mistakes later on. Not least because there are certain lengths of bolts that can only be used in certain places.

The other thing is, that 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 in some of the awkward places.

 The drum – a key part of the mixer, is strongly made from pressed steel and comes in two parts that have to be bolted together. This is actually easier than it first looks because the rubber gasket has small rubber “pins” on it to help locate it on the drum. These are then sacrificed when the bolts are pushed through and tightened up.

Assembling the tubular steel tall stand is also a case of putting the right bolts in the right place, but it results in a sturdy stand that 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 it has wheels that are big enough to cope with rough ground on sites. Finally, the tilt bracket is a solidly welded construction that is used to tilt the whole machine when used on the tall stand. On my machine it took a tiny bit of customising with a hammer to fit the slots, but the pin hinges and safety pin fitted perfectly.

I liked the idea of keeping the motor completely enshrouded in its own plastic and, I guess, largely 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. When running, the motor is amazingly quiet and there wasn’t much noise from the drive gear on the drum either. I guess that might change when the inevitable dust gets onto it, but there is a protective shield over it and it can be cleaned easily.

As I have mentioned before, the wheels are a full 230mm in diameter and 50mm wide, and make the mixer easy to move. With solid rubber tyres there is no danger of a puncture.

Getting the mixer onto the tall stand can be done by one person if it is empty and also if 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 we see on sites nowadays.

The freezing weather has not been conducive to mixing and laying concrete so I had to choose my time carefully. I am in what seems to be an interminable process of building myself a shed, so I decided to dig and fill a few of the inevitable foundation piles I am going to need for it. When the warmer weather comes, I will finish the rest, since my clay soil is either sodden or frozen at the moment. However, whatever I learn from doing these few piles can be applied at a later date.

The instructions say that you should put half the required water into the drum first, followed by the aggregate, the cement, the remaining water and then the sand. Since I only needed small quantities, 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. Really, not difficult as the fulcrum seems to have been well calculated for relatively easy tipping.

My biggest bugbear with mixers is cleaning them afterwards. Try as you might, there always seems to be a small amount of cement mixture trapped behind the paddles that gets bigger after each use - hence the rather battered drums that you see on some mixing machines – the lump hammer solution to drum cleaning. Therefore I prefer plastic drums – they stick less and don’t respond so badly to lump hammer-cleaning methods.

However, the Draper with its relatively new paintwork and smooth drum interior was fairly easy to clean with a jet nozzle on an ordinary hose – but it does use a lot of water to do a thorough clean, as any jobbing builder will confirm, whatever machine you use.

I am hoping that I can hold onto this mixer until early spring because it made the job of mixing concrete VERY easy. I found that it handled well and was very quiet in use. The drum is big enough to do a solid lot of concrete so that even a concrete base for a decent-sized shed could be done in a day. Certainly a useful addition to the Draper catalogue. 

 

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 

 

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

Draper STORMFORCE INTERCHANGE 10.8v Choose What You Like

It seems like there is an inexhaustible appetite from tool users for more power tools.  And more to the point, there is a huge range on the market to choose from, to suit everyone from occasional users to heavy duty professionals.

One of the newest ranges to be launched is the Draper STORMFORCE range – a set of tools that is so flexible that it offers users lots of choice. There are five Interchange tools in the overall STORMFORCE range of 48 products– a Drill/driver, a Combi hammer drill, an impact driver, a reciprocating saw and a cordless ratchet.  

All the interchange tools I tested  are powered by a neat little 10.8v Lithium Ion battery pack and can be bought as a complete kit with charger and spare battery, or “bare” – just the tool itself. In this way users can acquire a decent range of tools without having to buy any “unwanted extras”.

I was sent an eclectic range of tools to try out, so here goes….. Starting with the cordless combi hammer.

This arrived as a complete kit packed neatly into a black plastic Draper case, custom fitted with a place for tool, spare battery and charger. The quality of the tool inside looked, felt and behaved like an able bit of kit. I looked it over closely for any signs of corner cutting, but I found none. It has a good quality 10mm keyless chuck, there are well designed rubberised protection “bumpers” on the body of the machine and a very comfortable handle that provides good rubber grips and a perfect position for the forefinger on the trigger. The 1.5Ah battery pack slots into the bottom of the handle easily and is also easy to remove with no sticking on the catches. It is full of nice little touches like the big LED light above the trigger that comes on automatically when the trigger is pulled and stays on for a few seconds when the motor stops.

Battery charge is indicated by a three light indicator on the top of the handle and there is also a reversible belt hook, two speeds, a twenty-one position torque setting collar with drill, drive and hammer position marked too. The collar works positively in click stops and is easy to turn to select positions.

To test this combi I took it on a job with me and I was pleased with the way it performed in drilling and driving modes. I managed to drive enough screws to require the use of the second battery and it was great not to have to carry a big 18v drill upstairs to the loft in which I was working.

I tried it in hammer mode in a standard face brick, and while it did drill well enough to put in a plastic plug, I have been so spoilt by using SDS drills that It was too slow for me. 

There is no doubt that Lithium Ion technology has made smart little tools like this one real performers. The charger from flat takes only an hour to charge a battery but can be charged at any time. The tool will drill 25mm diameter holes in timber, 10mm in masonry and 10mm in metal.

Having tried the full kit I turned my attention to the “bare” versions of the drill and impact driver. Packaged into compact boxes, they look very much the same as the combi above and share the features like LED worklight, battery charge indicator and reversible belt hook. Again, the quality and “feel” of the tools in the hand is very good – helped by the generous grippy rubber on the body and handles.

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. Two speeds at least are a must these days, and the sliding switch on top of the casing is easy to slip forward or back, and with a specified 25Nm of torque on tap, driving quite large screws is possible. It will also drill 25mm holes in wood and 10mm holes in metal – the same as the combi above.

Impact drivers are also ubiquitous nowadays and they are useful, especially for removing screws that have been driven in too far. I wouldn’t be without one. The Draper STORMFORCE impact driver has an aluminium nose to house the impact mechanism and again, it is well put together. It has a spring collar collet chuck and will deliver up to 80Nm of impact torque, so it is no slouch. 80mm screws into thick softwood was no trouble at all for this little machine.

I would not be surprised if purchasers chose to buy all three compact machines for their toolbox or workshop – they complement each other very well and switching between them is easy. I began to wonder if Draper would make a combination case for all three machines with three batteries and a charger………????

Next out of the box was the “bare” cordless ratchet. With its 3/8” square drive it will fit standard sockets. Forward/reverse functions are chosen by simply rotating the little lever on the ratchet head and a large lever on the underside of the body is used to operate the rotation of the ratchet. A small switch can be used to lock the operating trigger in case of manual usage. There is a handy LED light, battery charge indicator and a useful 45Nm of torque on tap. This is definitely a useful tool for working on small mechanical projects.

I am a complete convert to small recip saws because they have a great performance packed into a small body and they are much lighter than the bigger 18v ones. This STORMFORCE saw is well specced. It has a quick release blade fitting, a decent worklight, battery charge indicator and trigger lock function. I used it to remove the 60mm thick old wooden frame of a window that I was replacing, and it proved to be incredibly useful. With its 130mm long blades (standard fitting and other sizes are available) 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.

Self indulgent users, I am sure, will find excuses to buy all the pieces of the kit and store them in the handy kit bag that Draper supplies. Remember too, that spare batteries which are very reasonably priced and chargers are also available separately should they be needed.  

To sum up, individually they are all very useful tools, but together they probably amount to more than the sum of their parts. Definitely worth a look. 

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