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.